“Anthony sing me a song.” “OK,” I said. “What do you want me to sing?” Esther responded: “Sing ‘Because He Lives.’” “But Esther,” I protested, “I don’t know that song.” “Well that’s the song I want,” she said. “But…………….

Let me tell about my friend Esther. I am a performer who is on a mission to bring joy to older adults. I perform at nursing and assisted living facilities throughout the country. When I moved to North Carolina in 2001, one of the first places I performed was Spring Arbor of Hickory. One of the first “characters” I met was Esther. Esther became my designated heckler at Spring Arbor. Any story I would tell, she would give me that look, shake her head, roll her eyes, in short telling me that I was full of it. Well of course I gave it right back to her. And that is how we became friends.

Fast forward to 2005 when I received a call from Sherri, the activity director at Spring Arbor. Esther was in the hospital and insisted I go visit her before or after my next performance at Spring Arbor. I agreed. You see a funny thing happens to you when you entertain at these facilities. You make some wonderful friends. And you grow close to them, check in on them from time to time and take an interest in their life. Esther was one of these people.

Well I entertained at the facility that day and then Sherri and I went to visit Esther. Of course up until now Sherri only gave me selected information. Now on the way to the hospital I found out that Esther actually had died and was revived the week before and was now in the intensive care unit. “Oh,” I thought, “and she wants to see me?!”

I entered the room and her eyes lit up, totally ignoring Sherri and just about paying attention to her daughter. Esther starts flirting with me to the amusement of her daughter. “Mother,” she said, “he’s a married man!” Oh well. Our banter continues and of course she insists I sing her that song that I don’t know. I sort of dodged that and sang her Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” an appropriate song for Esther I thought. We visited a while longer and I kissed her goodbye. Her daughter took me aside and told me that I would never know how much my visit meant to her and her mom. I didn’t think a whole lot about it.

That is until I got to the parking lot and it hit me that something profound had taken place. That I truly was crossing the line from just being someone who brightened up the days of seniors to someone who was somehow purposefully linked to their lives.

I told Esther I would learn that song for her and I did. And then I made a recording of it in my studio. I sent it to Esther who was safely back at Spring Arbor and it was a huge hit with her and the residents. As soon as Sherri put the CD on, and without Esther knowing what was on it, Esther immediately knew it was me singing to her. They tell me she played it over and over again. I was happy that she was happy and healthy.

At least that is what I thought. I next heard from Sherri just a few weeks later that Esther was in hospice care and that my CD went along with her. Then Esther died.

I went to the funeral. I walked in and as soon as her daughter saw me she started crying. She had not broken down, people told me, until she saw me walk in the door. She asked me if I knew about Esther’s last day of life. I didn’t. She told me.

You see the whole last day of her life, my CD was playing. Over and over, Esther’s favorite song, “Because He Lives” played again and again with me singing. Esther’s daughter started singing the song with me into her mother’s ear and telling her to let go.

Esther died a short time later.

Of course I started crying as well as she told me the story.

I have accomplished a lot in my performance and singing career. Yes, I never hit the big time, well not yet. But I have won some songwriting awards from Billboard, been featured in songwriter’s showcases in New York, entertained at resorts and casinos and even was once considered for a recording contract with Capital Records.

But the biggest musical accomplishment in my life so far, maybe my biggest accomplishment period, was helping Esther pass from this life to her eternal reward. I doubt I’ll ever top it.

                   — Anthony

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