Are you still within the sound of my voice?

by Bill Hamelau, HPCCR pet therapy volunteer

Glenn Campbell and Jimmy WebbThis morning my dog, Rowdy, and I were making a pet therapy visit to a new patient in the memory unit of  one of the local care communities.  Mary* was sitting in a chair with her eyes closed and hands clasped.  I got down on one knee and started to ask questions to see if I might get a reaction.  “I heard you liked dogs Mary.  Rowdy’s right here to visit with you.  Would you like to pet him?…  I heard you were in the Navy?…  I heard that you grew up in Hilton Head ?”  She continued to keep her eyes closed but I thought I saw a faint flicker of recognition and a slight tilt of her head in response to one of the questions.  And, then again, maybe I just wanted to.

On the way home I thought about our visit and wondered if I made a connection and what was going on inside Mary’s mind.  Right at that moment, an old Glen Campbell love song, “Still Within The Sound of My Voice,” started playing in my head.  It perfectly captured the feelings and thoughts of the situation I had just experienced with Mary and other memory loss patients.  More importantly, I thought, the words in this song poignantly, painfully, and lovingly captured what the families of memory loss patients must experience.  Here are the complete lyrics to this song, written by Jimmy Webb:

 

Still Within The Sound Of My Voice

Where have you gone
My darling one
Are you on your own
Are you having fun
Is there someone to hold
When you need it bad
Is it uncontrolled
Like the love we had
Does a day go by
Like a memory
Do you ever try
To remember me
In an automobile
Or a crowded bar
Well I hope you’re alright
Wherever you are

And if you’re still within the sound of my voice
Over some radio
I just want you to know
You were always my only choice
And wherever you go
That I still love you so
If you’re still within the sound of my voice

In the dead of night
Do you hear me call
Something’s quite not right
No one’s there at all
Did you make a mistake
Was it in your head
Or was it merely me talking
To your heart instead

And if you’re still within the sound of my voice
Over some radio
I just want you to know
That it always made me rejoice
Just to have you so near
There’s a place for you here
If you’re still within the sound of my voice

I am calling like the echo
Of a passing train that cries
One last time before it fades into
The distant hills and dies
I am sending out a message
Like a ship out on the sea in distress
But only you can send a lifeline out to me

Are you still within the sound of my voice
Why don’t you let me know
I just can’t let you go
If it’s wrong then I have no choice
But to love you until
I no longer have the will
If you’re still within the sound of my voice

I am calling like the echo
Of a passing train that cries
One last time before it fades into
The distant hills and dies            

It may be entirely coincidental that so many of the lyrics of this song apply to what families, volunteers, and hospice staff experience with memory loss patients.  Actually, the lyrics can apply to the passing of all patients in hospice care as well.  When read slowly as a poem, it allows you to reflect on your own personal situation and you can select those phrases which speak to you.   I also recommend that you go to YouTube where you can listen to the actual song by Glen Campbell.  It is haunting and moving and will go straight to your heart but, for me, it offers solace and defines what I am dealing with. 

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the patient.

Explore posts in the same categories: advocacy, dementia, hospice, long-term care, pet therapy, volunteering

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4 Comments on “Are you still within the sound of my voice?”

  1. Cindy Tilley Says:

    Beatufully said!

  2. Carlton Kothenbeutel Says:

    Perfect reflection! You nailed it! Carlton

  3. lgf3 Says:

    So beautiful.

    • Donna Says:

      This could only be stated this well, by YOU!!! Just so, so touching & is perfect! Thank you for this – from many hearts….
      Donna K.O.


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