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The sound of music

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two African American women singing while they workLa’toya Longmire and Ernestine Davis worked a long and busy day but an hour remained in their shift at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center’s Season’s Restaurant. To pass the time and make their cleaning up more enjoyable, La’toya and Ernestine started singing gospel hymns. They didn’t realize, though, that a tiny audience had formed – a patient’s daughter who sat quietly and just listened.

On her way out of the restaurant, the patient’s daughter thanked them for brightening her night and mentioned that her father would also love to hear them sing. She passed along her dad’s name and room number, then she left.

Most people just want to go home and put their feet up after work. But La’toya and Ernestine felt compelled to visit this patient and his family. They found his room, knocked on the door and introduced themselves. The daughter couldn’t believe her eyes; she really didn’t expect them to show up. And her dad beamed when he discovered that they were there to sing. He was having open-heart surgery the next day. After a few hymns and a nice visit, they prayed together. Before La’toya and Ernestine left, the patient held their hands, thanked them and said, “I’m ready for surgery now.” The ladies said their goodbyes and promised to follow up with the family after surgery.

Unfortunately, the next day proved even busier than the previous one. There was simply no time to leave the restaurant and check on the patient. Not wanting to let their new friends down, La’toya and Ernestine paid for a small bouquet of flowers from the hospital’s gift shop and sent them to the patient. 

“It wasn’t much,” said La’toya, “but we wanted them to know that we were thinking about them.” The patient’s daughter came into the restaurant later that day with good news; her dad made it through his surgery and was well on his way to a successful recovery.

Singing brings La’toya and Ernestine personal joy and makes work fun.

But for one family, on the night before surgery, the sweet, soft gospel sounds helped calm a frightened patient and bring peace to him and his family.