The song bird in the nest

In a recent post I pictured the rehab facility where I stayed for 10 days as my “nest”.  Well, there was a very special “little birdie” who I got to know in that nest, and I would like to tell you about her.

Bertie was a wonderful purveyor of kindness and smiles as an aide at the rehab center.  A caring, loving soul who always moved quickly about her business, doing whatever needed to be done.  One time when she walked past the therapy room while I was there, I said something out loud about what a wonderful, kind person she was.  One of the therapists responded that the atmosphere of the whole facility was noticeably lighter and happier when Bertie was in the building.  What a wonderful thing to be able to say about anyone.

The very first day I was there, Bertie came into my room to introduce herself.  And she told me she loves to sing and offered to sing a song for me.  What a nice offer, so of course I said “yes”, but I didn’t have much of an expectation of what  she would sing.  She asked if I liked country music, which I do, so she said she would sing Hank William’s “Cheatin Heart”.

Whatever I expected, I couldn’t have possibly anticipated the beautiful, clear, even sophisticated  alto voice that came out of sweet Bertie (think Patsy Cline without the twang). I am always impressed by a singer whose every word is clear and understandable, and that was her.  But also, she has that talent to add interesting intonation and extra notes to a song, as professional singers do.  But at the same time, her singing was simple and straight forward.  No theatrics, no gesturing, just a beautiful voice.  She also sang a little ditty for me that she had written about herself.  What a treat!  And then she hustled on her way, spreading her good cheer to other patients, while doing her job.

I hope Bertie didn’t think she was done with me when she just sang for me once!  Because from then on, if I had a visitor in my room and saw Bertie going by in the hall, I would ask her if she had a minute to sing “Cheatin Heart”, and she always complied.

An added bonus was a hug from Bertie.  She always smelled so fresh and clean and just enveloped you in a warm, loving hug.  I never had a grandma who gave me those kind of hugs, but in my dreams they would have been just like Bertie’s.

As any of you know who have read here long, I am an early riser, and it was the same in the rehab center.  So one early morning when I was drinking a 5 o’clock cup of coffee that my great night nurses would snag for me, I decided to write a song about Bertie that I would sing to HER.  (Wouldn’t SHE be surprised! Especially after she heard ME sing.)

So, I wrote the following song about Bertie,which I sang to her the next time I saw her.  As you can tell, I’m not great at this, but it was fun to give something back to Bertie who gave her beautiful voice and loving spirit so lovingly to all.

I wrote this to the tune of one of the songs I remember from my childhood:  “Reuben, Reuben, I been thinkin’ … what a funny world this would be … if all the men had been transported … far across the Northern Sea.”

Ode to Bertie


Bertie, Bertie, I been thinkin’ what a great world this would be,

if singing caregivers just like you,

would always sing for patients like me!

Thank you, thank you, Bertie, Bertie,

for all the joy to others you give.

All the songs you gladly sing.

What a life of love you live.

Thank you, thank you, God for Bertie.

Thank you for her friendly ways,

how she lights up each place she enters.

Please bless her with long, happy days.

Okay, so songwriting isn’t my forte, but Bertie seemed to appreciate my song when I sang it to her (in a slightly less melodious voice than the one she has!)  And it was fun to give her a small repayment for the wonderful voice she uses so willingly to uplift her patients.

Thank you, God, for people like Bertie who light up whatever corner of the world they are in, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to know her.

10 Responses to The song bird in the nest

  1. Linda says:

    I wish I’d met her. But I’m kind of glad I wasn’t there when you sang your song to her. What I mean is…ahem…I would have missed the pleasure of seeing it first on your blog. 🙂

  2. Cathy says:

    well, I think your song sounds good! I sang it to myself and it flows good. Good job! Wow, as a non-singer myself (in a family of singers)I’d be so intimidated to sing a solo to someone! I remember having a short solo in a musical “Good New” that our church youth group did and sometimes when it came my turn, my voice would freeze up and it was impossible to sing! They never gave me another solo!

  3. Hilary says:

    She sure does sound like a gem but I suspect she feels exactly the same about you. I like your song and think you should record it for us. I especially think that Linda would love it! 😉

    The Berties of the world are true gifts.

  4. Sandra says:

    Hmmm, Linda. So you weren’t sitting there when I sang it to her? I know SOMEONE was, so whoever it was, they haven’t mentioned it to me since. Maybe they were embarrassed for me. 🙂 Singing definitely “ain’t” my talent!

    When I saw the video you posted about the walker, it occurred to me that my camera has a movie option. If I’d thought about it, I should have recorded Bertie singing. I hate miss opportunities like that.

    Cathy — That’s the nice thing about not being at all shy. I don’t have to have any talent for something AT ALL to still be willing to give it a try. 🙂

    Hilary — I’ll start practicing now and let you (and Linda) know when I’m ready for my “debut”. Hold your breath, okay?

    Bertie truly is someone special to have met. 🙂

  5. C. Beth says:

    This is SO touching! I love that Bertie sings, and I love that you wrote a song and sang it for her. (I bet that’s the first time that’s happened, and now not only will you always remember her; she’ll always remember you too!)

  6. Sandra says:

    What a sweet thought, Beth. That hadn’t occurred to me. I just wanted to do something for the person who was doing so much to brighten the lives of all of us who were her “guests”. Thank you.

  7. Dee from Tennessee says:

    Well, it’s getting close to 3:00, and I ‘m sittin’ here thinking and pondering. Just wanted to check in with you — haven’t forgotten about you I promise. What a blessing Bertie is — would that all patients have a “Bertie” in their recovery. I know you all are going to have a blessed and Merry Christmas — and I’ll throw in a wish for a little bit of a “tender Tennessee Christmas” for good measure!

  8. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much, Dee. May your Christmas be blessed too, friend.

  9. What a great story–how lucky that facility is to have such a dedicated person working there!
    “Reuben, Reuben” sparked a special memory for me, Sandra! My late father said that is what he remembers most about his maternal grandmother who died when he was nine (he was born into his grandparents home)–that she sang this song to him though he did not remember her ever giving him a hug or affection.
    V

  10. Sandra says:

    V — That is interesting about your dad. When I said that was the tune I heard in my head when I wrote Bertie’s song, I wondered if anyone who read this would remember what the tune of that song was! So, maybe at least you do?

    You know, I’m not sure that your dad’s experience wasn’t the more common one in previous generations. I don’t think kisses, hugs and words of endearment were nearly as common then. You were just supposed to “know” you were loved. Even though I know my parents loved me, they didn’t say “I love you” easily, until I was an adult and started saying it to them!

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