While in Mexico I received an email from the director of volunteers and bereavement services, Kaiser Permanente. It was a request that I perform for a group of hospice volunteers during one of their social gatherings.

My heart was touched that someone would think to include me. I felt honored. There was “no-way” that I was going to miss participating in that gathering, even if it meant that I had to move a few mountains to be there.

So much of my work, over the years, has consisted of being at the bed-side of the ill or those in transition and playing my Kora. It may seem like a terribly heart wrenching experience to voluntarily subject oneself to an environment where another human being has passed or is dying but, there is an indescribable beauty that is born in those moments.

My most cherished memories are not the performances where I’ve had a few thousand people in the audience, but the rare  opportunities I’ve been invited to play my Kora in a room of family members helping their loved one ascend onto the next levels of life.

So… like I said before, there was no way that I was going to miss sharing space and time with men and women who give of themselves so completely as do hospice volunteers.

Patty, the director and I, completed coordination my participation while I was still performing on tour in Mexico. We were all scheduled and set before I returned back to the States.

December 3rd was the day of my performance for the group. I couldn’t wait to be there! Hospice volunteers possess a rare and special soul. My admiration for their work extends far beyond simple respect into adoration.

Not too long after I arrived, I was on stage playing my Kora, singing and sharing a few tales. For me, it was magical. The gathering was small intimate gathering of about 30 or 40 people, all hospice volunteers. They were a lively, energetic crowd. Active participating wasn’t an issue as they were more than ready, willing and totally able.

When I requested they sing with me, they sang with such enthusiasm that I felt like I was sitting at home among friends and family. When they unearthed little tidbits of my tales, they laughed and spoke out unapologetically. I was in performer’s heaven.

By the close of my performance I felt like I had made a lot of new friends. I even found one woman who loves sewing and volunteered to help me out if I needed any tailoring (what a find!). I may have also been talked into doing a “Cure for Cancer Walk.”

I can honestly say that I loved being a part of this gathering. It was one of those small, intimate performances that feels most gratifying. There is something about being in the presence of people who are not only giving but equally demonstrative as well that feeds the spirit.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Kaiser Permanente Hospice Volunteers. I think I walked away with more from than I was able to give.

It was truly a blessing to have been permitted to be of service to such selfless souls.


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