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Handmaker Resident Shares her Musical Gift

by Nanci Levy | Dec 07, 2016

Thelma and Monica“My mom had not played the piano since my Dad passed away 15 years ago, but since she has been at Handmaker, she plays regularly. It is part of her therapy.” So says Monica Weiss, whose mother, Thelma Weiss has been playing piano by ear since the age of 6, and is one of our residents at Handmaker. Thelma wrote a song that was recorded in Spanish & English called “Thinking of You” which was inspired by a visit to Verona, Italy.  She wrote this beautiful song years later, and she still plays it by ear occasionally at Handmaker.

Thelma was born in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants.  She came from a very talented, musical, artistic family. They moved to New Jersey when she was still young, and according to Thelma, she had a “very busy social life” in New Jersey. When Thelma came to Tucson to visit her younger sister, she met her husband Frank. He was in the Air Force, and after they married, they traveled all over Europe together while he was based in Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Frank went to Optometry school and become an Optometrist in the Air Force until he went into private practice in Tucson in 1957. Thelma was always there for her husband as a homemaker and mother to their daughter, Monica, and they were both active at Congregation Anshei Israel. When Thelma’s husband passed away 15 years ago, Monica was a little worried about how her mom would respond. While her mom did need some occasional help from a caregiver since she did not drive, Monica was impressed by her mother’s fortitude. Her mom was stronger than she thought. But, she had stopped playing the piano.

Nearly two years ago, Thelma had to have hip surgery. When she had to choose a place to do rehab after the surgery, Handmaker was the place that she wanted to be. It was a place that she had heard good things about, and she felt that she would be most comfortable there, being around other Jewish people. Thelma has been at Handmaker ever since.

While Thelma’s preference was to go home after she was healed from her hip surgery, she just could not get the care at home that she needed, and so the decision was made for Thelma to stay at Handmaker. According to her daughter Monica, Thelma has been more active in the last two years that she has been at Handmaker than she had been in the 20 years living when living at home. Between bingo, exercise class, Torah study, Shabbat services and the many other programs, Thelma is rarely in her room. Monica says that “Mom is well taken care of here. She is safe, she keeps busy, she does not just sit in her room, and that is thanks to the staff here at Handmaker.”

We are happy to have Thelma at Handmaker, whose beautiful piano playing often fills our halls.