It can be difficult growing old and seeing your memory begin to fade. When Edward Hardy began to suffer from dementia, he was admitted to the Melifont Abbey assisted living facility in Somerset, England, along with his wife, Betty.
Facing the debilitating disease, Edward soon became depressed and withdrawn from as his condition worsened. No one was able to get through to him, and hope seemed lost.
Little did they know, Edward still had an amazing skill within him.
After Edward arrived in the home, a young man named Sam Kinsella became the activities coordinator. He became concerned with Edward’s condition—he would hear the man shouting in the night, only to discover that Edward had no recollection of doing so.
He began trying to connect with Edward, hoping he’d be able to help him. Kinsella finally made a breakthrough when he revealed something about himself: He was a musician in a local band.
This revelation stirred something in Edward.
“Ed’s face lit up,” Kinsella recalled in a video.
“And he told me he used to play piano for years.”
Not only did he used to play, but he had been a professional jazz musician.
No one at the home had any idea about his musical background, even though Edward had been a pianist his whole life. According to SWNS, he served in The Musical Corp in Malaysia and India during World War II, and when he returned from overseas he started his own jazz group, the Sam Hardy trio.
The group toured around the world, but eventually Edward saved enough money to settle down and buy a home with his wife Betty, and his days as a professional musician came to an end.
Music became less and less a priority, and by the time he began living in the assisted living facility, it had been 25 years since he had played the piano.
Kinsella was stunned by this discovery and felt it brought him closer to Edward.
“It seemed like the realization that we were both musicians immediately sparked a friendship between us,” he said.
He decided to reintroduce Edward to music to see if it helped with his mental state. He had Edward’s nephew supply a keyboard to the home.
After decades apart, Edward was finally reunited with the piano—and what happened next left everyone stunned.
Despite his deteriorating mental state, he still remembered the notes perfectly.
“He hesitated for about 30 seconds,” Kinsella recalled to SWNS. “And then started playing some amazing tracks to a ridiculous standard.”
“It’s really amazing because even though he’s got dementia, you can name a tune and he can just play it.”
Betty was especially affected by hearing her husband playing again. It brought back a flood of memories for her, too—of those years of touring the country with her husband.
“We saw the whole country, from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico,” she recalled to SWNS.
“When we played concerts Ed and I would start the dancing off to get the other couples on the floor.”
As Edward began to play routinely again, Kinsella decided to take it even further. He put out an ad for local musicians to play jazz with him.
The ad went viral, and they received dozens of replies from people wanting to come play with Edward.
And most amazingly, Edward’s former bandmates saw the ad and showed up to reunite the old trio.
Then, the band put on a concert at the nursing home:
Having music back in his life after all this time changed Edward’s life—and it was a life-affirming moment for Kinsella, who decided to continue encouraging music in dementia patients as a form of therapy.
“The look in his eyes when he was reunited with his old bandmates was indescribable, and the happiness it brought to him and his wife when the band started playing again made the whole experience emotional for us.”