How a Hospital Harpist and Volunteer Are Giving Each Other Hope During the Pandemic

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Currents News Staff

Even if we’re still healthy and able bodied, we’ve all lost something: a routine, a sense of purpose.

Everyday routines have changed since the coronavirus pandemic, and trying to get back to a sense of normal will take time.

But one Boston man has figured out how to keep his routine going and found a friend in the process.

For many years, Bill Brennan, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in two weeks, has cheered up patients at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital with stickers and a smile.

Nancy Kleiman is the harpist at the Brigham, where she encountered Bill almost daily.

“Everybody loves her, everybody loves her,” Bill said of Nancy.

“He’s just pure love,” added Nancy, “we’re like buddies.”

And then suddenly, along with the music, those encounters stopped.

Now, “part of my life is gone,” explained Bill. 

“Oh my goodness, it’s life,” Nancy agreed. “That’s why you can imagine how I feel being at home right now.”

“I was feeling so sad, and then I got an email,” she explained. 

It read, “‘You don’t know me but my father loves your harp.’ And then it just happened, ‘Would you FaceTime him?’” the note asked. 

One call became two, and then became an everyday occurrence.

“There’s this feeling of somebody’s going to call you at five, and somebody cares about you, somebody loves you,” said Nancy. 

“She brings me back as soon as she starts to talk,” said Bill. “I come right back. That whole day of sitting around doing nothing, it’s all gone.”

What was lost has been found, and is once again in perfect harmony.

“That’s what Bill and I give each other every day, that little shot in the arm” said Nancy. 

The friends say they will keep calling each other every day until the COVID-19 state of emergency is over in Massachusetts.