The Water is Wide: A Bedside Singers Story

By: Judy Foster, Hospice Peterborough Volunteer and Bedside Singer

Today three of us sang on the [Peterborough Regional Health Centre Palliative Care] unit.

We were welcomed into a number of rooms and sang in one of the halls. There was a couple who were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary with friends scattered around the room. The patient’s husband shared with us that music has been a big part of their life – they used to go to all the Peterborough Pop Ensemble sings. Then we were asked to sing Christmas carols to a woman in the next room. Her son was standing in the hall across from her room – the door was closed with a sign saying “no visitors.” We were invited in and sang her favorite Go Tell it On the Mountain and then we sang Silent Night!

We sang to a man and his two visitors. As we were leaving he asked me if I knew his mother, he gave me her name, and said she had been very musical, played guitar, and had died a year ago at the hospital. Another man and his visitor kept thanking us; I noticed his feet were moving to the beat and he even joined in singing on a couple of the songs. We sang to two women in the same room, to whom we had sung to before; they said they enjoyed our singing very much.

For me the most touching moment was when we sang in a room to a husband and wife. While we were singing The Water is Wide the husband moved his chair closer to the bed so he could hold his wife’s hand. She was 97 and he was 90 – with teary eyes he thanked us for our songs.