65: Voices of Angels

65: Voices of Angels

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Voices of Angels

Music is well said to be the speech of angels.

~Thomas Carlyle

“Thanks,” Dad said, as he took the chocolate milkshake I bought for him on my way to the hospital. He smiled. “I’m really glad you’re here.”

I was visiting him at St. Mary’s Hospital in Florida after his hip surgery. The operation was successful but he looked frail and his strength seemed to be waning.

“I have a complaint,” he said. “Would you mind finding out where that music is coming from and ask the person to turn the radio down?”

“I don’t hear any music, Dad.”

“Well, I do. Someone in another room must be hard of hearing and has the volume up too high. Tell him to turn it down. It’s too loud.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll check it out.”

I walked down the corridor and listened outside all the patients’ rooms. There was no music coming from any of them and the hallway was silent, too.

“No one has a radio on anywhere in this area,” I reported, when I returned to his room.

I sat on his bed and put my head next to his to see if I could hear the music from his vantage point.

“I don’t hear a thing, Dad.”

Excited now, he said, “Listen! It’s playing right now! Don’t you hear it?” Pointing toward the window near his bed, he said, “It’s coming from there.”

I heard nothing. When he saw the blank look on my face, he became agitated. “I’m not making this up.”

“What’s the music like, Dad?”

“It’s a chorus humming the same tunes over and over again. Peaceful, calm tunes. Only it’s softer now than it was a few minutes ago.”

Still, I heard nothing.

I called the nurse on duty and she checked every room on the floor.

“No one is playing a radio or a TV,” she reported back to us. “I’d better call your father’s doctor.”

“Could he be hearing things as a result of the anesthesia?” I asked the doctor.

“That’s unlikely,” he answered.

“Well then, do you think the pin inserted in his hip is picking up a radio station?”

The doctor didn’t think that was likely either. He said that in either case Dad would hear different songs, an assortment of melodies, not just the same music over and over again. If it weren’t for the fact that my father was lucid and articulate in every other respect, the doctor said he’d think Dad was hallucinating. He told me Dad’s body had undergone trauma and he seemed weaker than he should at this point in his recovery. However, if he was hallucinating, that wasn’t good and they would keep a close eye on him.

“I told them the music stopped,” Dad told me the next day, his voice weaker than before. “I don’t want everyone hovering over me and thinking I’m out of my mind. I heard them talking and I don’t need a psychiatrist or sedatives, which they’d give me if they thought I was still hearing the music. So, I assured them the music stopped.”

“Has it really?”

Hesitating, he answered me. “No, but you won’t tell, will you?”

I looked at my father, a normally energetic eighty-eight-year-old who loved life and only wanted to get better. It was obvious, though, he was losing strength daily.

I took his hand. “It’ll be our secret. So, what exactly does the music sound like, Dad?”

He grinned. “Well, like I said, there’s no variety. Just the same music repeating itself. I’ll try to hum what it sounds like.”

He set his face in concentration.

“Hmmm…. hmmm…” he hummed. “I can’t seem to grasp the melodies. They’re just beyond my reach. And I really enjoy listening to them.”

“You do?”

“Oh, yes. They’re very peaceful, like unformed words murmured by a chorus of angels—such beautiful chanting.”

Each day when I came to visit, I asked, “Any new songs today, Dad?” And even though he seemed to get weaker, he’d laugh and we’d joke about what we’d come to call “our angel voices.”

I knew that Dad heard them and he understood that I knew. It was our secret.

Several days later when I walked into Dad’s room, I stared in disbelief. He was animated and sitting up in bed. He gave me a strong hug.

“The music is gone,” he said. “It stopped, with no warning. It didn’t gradually fade away. It just stopped.”

“I’m sorry, Dad.”

“That’s okay. It wasn’t so good hearing things that no one else could hear. But it was nice while it lasted.”

The nurses told me everyone was surprised by my father’s sudden improvement. They would watch him carefully for another day or two and then he could go to rehab.

Many weeks later, the surgery and subsequent rehab had drained Dad of his sudden spurt of energy. His health was failing and I brought him to my home in Massachusetts with round-the-clock nursing care.

One evening he motioned to me to sit near him on his bed.

“Open the window for me.”

“Open it? You’re always so cold and it’s freezing out.”

“That doesn’t matter. I feel hot. And besides, I think I’ll hear the music better with the window open.”

My heart flipped. “Music? Is it what I think it is?”

“Uh huh. Remember those angel voices I heard in the hospital? I hear them again. You know, our secret.”

My heart was heavy as I opened the window.

Dad’s spirit and health deteriorated quickly and he died two days later, the cold air streaming into his room along with the soothing voices of angels sent to chant a melodic welcome to heaven.

~Linda J. Cooper

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