An 89-year-old great-grandmother, who suffers from dementia, is going viral for somehow remembering a lullaby as she sings to her 1-day-old great-grandchild. It’s the same lullaby Elinor Hanson has sung for decades – not just to her five children, but to her 18 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
The lullaby – ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ – has become somewhat of a tradition for the family, but there was doubt as to whether or not they would hear her sing it again because of her worsening dementia. That’s why the family was so surprised when she started singing it word-for-word while holding the newborn.
The video was uploaded to Instagram by Connie Hanson Coleman, one of Elinor’s five children, on January 17th. The story was picked up by TODAY – who interviewed Coleman – and the video went viral shortly after as others started to share their own personal experience with dementia in their own families.
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“Great grandma meeting and holding her newest great grandson and singing a song she sung to all the grandkids. A song my kids know very well,” Coleman wrote in the video’s caption. “It’s amazing how the brain can lose so much but music somehow stays. Music really is amazing for healing and memory.”
The great-grandmother sings the tune perfectly, but starts to choke up about 30 seconds in. “I’m gonna cry,” she says before humming the song the rest of the way. The lullaby was originally written by Frank Loesser in 1950 and originally appeared in the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls later that year.
In her interview with TODAY, Coleman described her mother as a ‘musical lady,’ but said she was also the ‘cookie-baking kind of grandma’ – something I’m sure most of us can relate to. “It’s when she says, ‘o.k. it goes like this, now you’re listening?’ that’s my mom that I remember,” explained Coleman.
She went on to explain how her mother has had dementia for years, but it started to progress very quickly once Elinor’s husband passed away in 2020. To ensure her mother was receiving the proper care, Coleman moved from Georgia to Utah to be her caretaker – resulting in precious moments like these.
Dementia Has a Way of Showing Glimpses of One’s True Self
Dementia is characterized by a loss of cognitive functioning that affects an individual’s ability to think, reason, remember, and make decisions. As the condition progresses, dementia patients start acting less like themselves as they grow more out-of-tune with their environment and those closest to them.
With that said, moments like the one captured by Connie Hanson Coleman give loved ones a glimpse of who that person used to be. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Coleman decided to become her caretaker – that way, her mother didn’t have to move from the house she had lived in for 48 years.
“I didn’t want her to move, it’s what she knows,” said Coleman. A week after she uploaded that first video, she uploaded a second one featuring her mother, Elinor. This time, she was singing another popular lullaby – ‘You Are My Sunshine’ – at the request of an Instagram user who commented on the last video.
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Also in her interview with TODAY, Coleman revealed that Elinor has one more great-grandchild on the way and she’s confident that her mother will have an opportunity to sing to that grand-child as well. And since her great-grandchildren will have no memory of Elinor singing to them, they’ll at least have videos.
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