Editor’s Query: Tell us about a time when you jumped to the wrong conclusion

August 9, 2012

The patients in the Alzheimer’s ward were seated in a circle, staring into space. I had come to engage them in their weekly singalong, which I assumed had more effect on the health-care aides than on the patients.

We sang old patriotic songs, which sometimes brought smiles to their faces. I ended with their favorite, the rousing “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” As I was packing to leave, an aide announced, “Everyone, please be quiet. Miss Betty would like to say something.”

A woman who had never said a word, stood up, straightened her shoulders and began: “I want to thank all of my fellow graduates for coming here today. We have had four wonderful years together, but now must go out into the world. ...”

The music had prompted her to give her graduation address.

The aides were teary-eyed, and I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had jumped to the wrong conclusion. Although Miss Betty had never exhibited any signs of recognition, our singalongs had taken her back to a wonderful place.

I never again thought that I was leading singing sessions for people who didn’t care. I couldn’t tell from their behavior that these songs were affecting them. But now I knew that this music could take them back to happier times.

Beverly Morrone Haller,

Rockville

NEW QUERY: Tell us about a time when you felt at home in an unexpected place.

The Washington Post is partnering with the Public Insight Network (PIN) to hear more of your 100 percent true stories taken from your own experience. Submit your answer to the query above online at wapo.st/ed­query. By sharing your story, you become part of PIN — a network of more than 130,000 people who contribute to high-quality journalism. Editors will choose an entry to run in the Magazine, but we will also share more of your stories online. You can also submit to The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.

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