JOLIET – A look of recognition crossed Bernadette Greenfield’s face as the drone of a bagpipe in the hallway reminded her of her native land.
With her son, Patrick Greenfield, and his wife, Ann, flanking her bed, the 80-year-old Sunny Hill Nursing Home resident listened as Shorewood bagpiper Kevin Bennett played 42nd Highlanders and God Bless America just for her.
Mrs. Greenfield came to the United States from Ireland when she was 19, living in New York for four years before moving to Illinois at 23. Most recently she lived in Chicago Ridge before moving to the county-owned nursing home in November 2012.
Sunny Hill Activity Director Danette Krieger said when she asked Bennett to play for the residents as an early St. Patrick’s Day treat, staff members remembered that Greenfield came from Ireland. Krieger asked her family if they thought their mother would enjoy it if he came to her room.
A hospice patient, she would be unable to go to the cafeteria to enjoy the performance there.
Her family was excited at the prospect. “So we whispered in her ear that a bagpiper was coming,” Krieger said.
On Friday, as her son fed her Dean’s Mint Meltaway ice cream (green, of course), she was ready for her musical treat.
“We always used to take her to hear the bagpipes and see the Irish dancers,” said her daughter, Kathy McFarland of Chicago Ridge.
After introducing himself to Mrs. Greenfield, Bennett went back into the hallway to play, with his wife, Nita Lueking, holding his music. He has been playing the bagpipes for a little more than two years and takes lessons in Naperville.
Krieger met the couple at a St. Patrick’s Day event in 2013. Prior to agreeing to perform on Friday, Bennett didn’t know anything about Sunny Hill. It was the first time he had ever played his bagpipes in a nursing home.
“But it won’t be the last,” Krieger added.
In addition to her children, Patrick Greenfield of Homer Glen and Kathy McFarland of Chicago Ridge, Mrs. Greenfield also has a son, Richard Greenfield of Orland Park, and nine grandchildren.
Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, 421 Doris Ave., is led by Administrator Karen Sorbero and is under Will County Executive Larry Walsh’s office.