It’s not unusual on any given day for one of our elders here at Riverview to go out to see the doctor. When they have an appointment we make arrangements, make sure the facility van is available at that time, and someone will drive them to the doctor’s appointment. On Saturday night September 6th, one of our elders, Fred, had an appointment to see a doctor and Josh Calhoun, AIT, and I had the privilege of taking him. This was no ordinary appointment and it certainly wasn’t the kind of doctor you may be thinking about.
Since 1946, Ralph Stanley has been travelling all over the United States and a few foreign countries playing his mountain style of bluegrass music. In 1992 he was inducted into “The International Bluegrass Hall of Honor.” He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2006, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence. He even won a Grammy Award in 2002 for the “Best Male Country Vocal Performance.” Mr. Stanley is most commonly known in the world of bluegrass music as “Dr. Ralph Stanley” after being awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.
On this particular Saturday night, Ralph Stanley would be appearing in Prestonsburg as part of his farewell tour and Fred had an appointment to see “the Doctor.” This was an appointment that was unknown to Fred however. If you come by the Mugg-Z Café located inside our home, you will most likely find Fred sitting inside with headphones on watching Ralph Stanley videos on YouTube. Without a doubt, Fred’s hero is definitely Dr. Ralph Stanley. His admiration of “the Doctor” is so strong that Patty Huffman, who works in our café, felt the need to get involved. To make a long story short, one day Patty handed me some tickets and told me Fred would be going to see his hero and would even be going backstage to meet him. We decided that day that we must do our best to keep it a secret to Fred.
As the days and weeks passed, our excitement grew, especially in the week leading up to the show when Fred shared with me that he had seen Ralph Stanley in concert “years ago” and intended to have his picture taken with him, but he got so excited he forgot to get the picture. “I don’t guess I’ll ever have that chance again,” Fred said with a disappointment on his face.
After waiting for weeks and biting my tongue not to share the surprise, the night finally arrived. When I told Fred where I was taking him, he burst into tears of overwhelming joy. So overcome with excitement, the nine minute drive to the Mountain Arts Center must have seemed like hours to Fred. “What a surprise,” Fred kept saying over and over again. Just moments after arriving, the surprise got even better. The same man who just days earlier spoke with regret about never getting a picture with his hero was now sitting backstage with his arms around him engaged in conversation.
This was certainly a wonderful night and a touching experience. These types of occurrences are not that rare in our home, as we strive to help make our elders’ dreams come true. When we left the concert that night, Fred looked at Josh and I and said, “If I live to be 110 years old, I will never forget September 6, 2014!” Glad to be available to help take one of our elders on a trip to see “The Doctor.”
Director of Spirituality, Riverview HealthCARE