Perfecting Her Tune–The Maples of Towson

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Most things are better shared. Margaret Laing, a resident of The Maples, an assisted living community in Towson, Md., learned that firsthand when she began playing the organ for her fellow residents. A self-taught organist, she had been playing for years, but at The Maples she found an enthusiastic and dedicated audience and quickly began to appreciate the joy of performing.

Living at The Maples has allowed Margaret to continue her active lifestyle.

Margaret moved to The Maples following chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma. “I got very ill after the treatments, and the doctor said I would only live two-and-a-half months,” she recalled. Her family and her medical team arranged for her to move to The Maples, so she could receive the care she needed. “Three weeks later, I was in a wheelchair sitting up, and a week later I was walking down the steps,” Margaret exclaimed.

A native of Pennsylvania, Margaret moved to Baltimore, Md., as a young woman with her new husband, Lloyd, and fell in love with the city. The young couple quickly settled in and started a family. In addition to raising their two children, Margaret worked part-time at a local department store.

During her time at the department store, she had the opportunity to work in the record department, selling 45s. “I loved it because I had always been musical,” she said.

Margaret’s love of music started early but really blossomed after an impulse purchase. “I always sang in school,” she said. “Then one day my husband told me that he’d love to learn to play the organ, so I got him one for Christmas.”

While Lloyd was taking professionals lessons, Margaret was reading his books and teaching herself to play the organ. Years later, the couple sold that original organ and upgraded to a new one. It was then that Margaret decided to invest in some lessons of her own. The couple both continued to take periodic lessons and purchased five more organs over the years, including the one that is in her room at The Maples.

Margaret bought her first organ for her husband, but while he was taking lessons, she taught herself to play using his books.

As Margaret’s recovery has progressed, she has been able to participate in more community activities and has even become an unofficial part of the community’s diverse entertainment options. “They would have me play the organ every day, I think,” Margaret said of her fellow residents.

Margaret’s weekly performances are always well attended. Whenever her organ is rolled out of her room, her fans begin to line their chairs up. “I’m not the greatest organist in the world, but they don’t mind,” Margaret said. “If I make mistakes, they don’t care; I just start all over and do it again.” Margaret paused before smiling and adding, “That’s the way life is. You can’t always be perfect, and I’m not, but you have to enjoy life, and I do here.”

In fact, in the more than five years that she has been a resident at The Maples, Margaret has made the most of all the community has to offer. The Maples provides restaurant-style dining, an emergency call system, and daily social and entertainment opportunities. For the convenience of all residents, many medical services are available on site, including a physician, podiatrist, audiologist, physical/occupational/speech therapies, vision/eye care, counseling/psychiatric services, and diagnostic services including x-rays and routine lab work. In addition to all the amenities, Margaret also appreciated the support of the staff and her fellow residents after Lloyd passed away earlier this year.

“I’m just not a watcher,” Margaret concluded. “I can’t sit on the sidelines. I like to be active.” At The Maples, Margaret has gotten the care she needed to return to her active lifestyle — and acquired more than a few active listeners, who thoroughly enjoy watching as she perfects her tune.

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