Mu­sic man brings tunes to Bay­crest

Af­ter the death of his wife, vol­un­teer finds joy and heal­ing

Bayview Post - - NEWS | NEIGHBORHOOD -

In the Fire­side Lounge in the Wag­man Cen­tre of Bay­crest Health Sciences com­plex, around 25 peo­ple gath­ered to lis­ten to the sounds of win­ter. Many of them had not been out­side that day, but the icy pizzi­cato of Vi­valdi’s

was send­ing shiv­ers through the au­di­ence. Howard Med­nick was at the front of the room, guid­ing them through the piece.

Med­nick be­gan de­vel­op­ing these pre­sen­ta­tions when his wife, Fern, was a res­i­dent at Bay­crest. The for­mer com­puter sys­tems con­sul­tant now puts to­gether pre­sen­ta­tions on clas­si­cal mu­sic for the res­i­dents at Bay­crest and other re­tire­ment homes, as well as the Life In­sti­tute at Ry­er­son.

“The first time I did a pre­sen­ta­tion at the Apo­tex Cen­tre [Bay­crest’s Jewish Home for the Aged], a gentle­man came up to me af­ter­wards and said, ‘For the last few years of my life, all I want to do is lis­ten to mu­sic like you just pre­sented us,’ ” said Med­nick. “And I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve re­ally hit the mark with this.’ ”

For the three years that Fern lived at Bay­crest, Med­nick vis­ited her ev­ery day. Dur­ing these vis­its, Med­nick would open his com­puter, play her clips from YouTube and get her opin­ions on his selections. Putting to­gether these pro­grams be­came the only thing he en­joyed do­ing.

“Her con­di­tion was not good and get­ting worse,” he said. “It was re­ally tough, but this was part of my ther­apy.”

Af­ter Fern passed away in Oc­to­ber, Med­nick kept com­ing to Bay­crest. He met new friends and re­con­nected with old ones and has spent some time con­tem­plat­ing what it means to en­ter into old age.

“For the peo­ple in this room, they’re look­ing to fill time. That’s why they’re here in the first place,” he said. “So far, I’ve been for­tu­nate. I can still keep do­ing things, start this whole project the way I have. This is what old age is all about. No­body knows what to do when you get thrust into it.”

Med­nick does two weekly per­for­mances at Bay­crest. Oc­ca­sion­ally, he will lis­ten to a piece that re­minds him of his wife. He’s learn­ing about mu­sic all the time, which helps heal and keep him fo­cused.

“When I look at ev­ery­thing that I’ve gone through with my wife, and ev­ery­thing else, it’s taught me a lot of pa­tience,” he said. “It can be re­ally frus­trat­ing when you can’t do the things that you used to do. I’ve got a few friends who aren’t far­ing too well, but they’re mak­ing the best of it. And that’s what you gotta learn, to try to do it this way for as long as you can.”

Clas­si­cal mu­sic en­thu­si­ast and Bay­crest vol­un­teer Howard Med­nick

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