A Gift of Music

There was a standing bargain in the Kasinger household in Moline. Rebecca got out of dishes and meal cleanup if she played her white baby grand piano while her parents, Thom and Cheryl, cleaned up.

The piano, and music in general, was important to the family. Thom is a retired music professor. Becky’s grandmother, Betty Buser Michaelkamp, also loved to hear her play. Becky and her grandmother had a very close relationship. Her grandmother took care of her for years during the day after Cheryl returned to work.

After Betty Buser Michaelkamp passed away over the summer at the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House, the family decided the piano should be shared with others.

Becky’s piano will be a feature of the warm, soothing environment of the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House for years to come. The piano has been donated to honor the memory of Betty Buser Michaelkamp.

“It was an easy decision that made so much sense for us,’’ explained Cheryl Kasinger. “My mother said that if there was any instrument she wished she could play, it was the piano. We wanted to do something for the hospice house in Mother’s name that would continue the wonderful environment that we experienced there.”

A Loving, Caring Environment

The Kasingers were impressed with the loving, caring environment of the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House in Bettendorf. The family also noticed music was available throughout the house. Music therapists come play for Genesis hospice patients in their homes, at nursing homes, hospitals and at the hospice house.

“We could never come close to giving back what we received from the staff here,’’ said Thom Kasinger, wiping away tears. Betty Buser Michaelkamp actually was at the hospice house twice. During her first stay, she improved enough that she was discharged with the assistance of home hospice. She returned to the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House at the end of life.

“We had Mom for a few more weeks, I think, because of the care she received here and from hospice at home,’’ Cheryl explained. “Mom was able to go home with us, and we enjoyed that extra time together.’’ Becky, who lives in Washington, D.C., was becoming a new mother about the time her beloved grandmother passed. She has her own piano there and loved the idea of giving the baby grand piano to the hospice house.

“We’re so honored to have the piano there. It is a very emotional experience for us,’’ Cheryl added. “We were so impressed with the care in the hospice house and when mom had hospice at home. Everyone who we had contact with was so concerned and loving. Everyone -- from the nurses and aides, to the cooks, to the cleaning staff -- was so caring. We could feel the love everyone had for patients and their families.’’

Gift of Music

Mona Terry, a musician and music teacher who works with Genesis hospice patients, played the piano once again for the Kassingers on an afternoon to recognize their gift. “It’s a beautiful instrument that many people are going to enjoy,’’ Terry said. “Does it have a name? I name my instruments.”

So did Becky Kasinger.

“She named it Winston. It was some connection with the Beatles I think,’’ her mother recalled.

John Lennon’s middle name was Winston.

“Music truly is a universal language,’’ said Pat Christy, former operations manager for Genesis Hospice. “We’re excited to be able to have this great gift from the family. Now we’re looking for accomplished players who will volunteer to share the gift of music.’’

Experienced pianists who would like to share their talent with hospice patients and their families can contact the hospice house at (563) 421-5400.

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