There’s a touching story in the Ottawa Citizen of an 89-year-old woman with well-advanced Alzheimer’s disease who, despite not knowing who or where she is, or those around her, is able to play the piano to classical perfection.
Her husband places her on a cushion on the piano bench in front of the old upright in the dining room of the nursing home. When he places sheet music in front of her, a miracle happens.
It starts in her shoulders. They start to move rhythmically. Then her hands raise over the keys in the style of a concert pianist. The hands come down fast and the fingers land on all the right keys.
Flawless classical music pours out of the piano, fills the empty dining room and drifts down the corridor of The Manoir St. Joseph nursing home in Orleans. Ambulatory patients start to gather in the doorway.
Most of Doris McCallum has disappeared into the disease, but the process by which the eyes translate written music into movement of the fingers is still working.