Local man brings music to Lakewood
DENVER – Harold Cadmus has a routine to get his week off to a positive start.
Cadmus, 79, spends each Monday morning playing his old baby grand piano for friends.
The instrument sits in the activity room of the Lakewood Care Center on Optimist Club Road. Cadmus’ friends are the residents there.
Cadmus doesn’t often miss a Monday.
“He’s more dependable than the post office,” Lakewood resident Patrice Weber said. “Rain or shine, he’s always here.”
Cadmus started playing at Lakewood in October 2003. He acquired a grand piano of his own and tried to donate the baby grand to two different churches. Both denied him.
Then he found Lakewood and agreed to play there once a week. He also hand-tunes the instrument once a year and sings along with his music.
Now, it’s the perfect way to start his week.
“If you’re ever complaining about the week ahead, just come down here,” Cadmus said. “It just puts you in a different perspective that so many of us tend to not have today. If I’m feeling sorry for myself, it’s over for me when I leave there on Monday morning.”
Some residents stay for the entire hour he’s there. Others only listen for 30 seconds.
Most will sing right along with him.
“I enjoy it, I’ve gotten used to it,” World War II Navy veteran Mary Peeler said. “It’s something I depend on and look forward to each week.”
Cadmus started playing the piano at age 10 because his parents wanted him to. He kept playing, pretty much every day, during his years at the University of Pennsylvania and in the U.S. Air Force.
But even with almost 60 years of playing experience under his belt when he first visited Lakewood, it took Cadmus a while to discern the real reason he played.
“The hardest thing is to realize is that this is not a performance,” Cadmus said. “You’re not going in there to show how gifted you are. It took me about six months to realize that.”
Cadmus plays the 88-key instrument from 9 to 10 a.m. each Monday, offering renditions ranging from the gospel favorite “Amazing Grace” all the way to songs performed by country legend Kris Kristofferson.
He handpicks pieces of his own but also takes audience requests.
“I really like ‘This Little Light of Mine,’” Charlie James said. “I’m not sure why, I just love it.”
Cadmus will turn 80 next April, but doesn’t see an end to his playing days in sight.
His friends at Lakewood are his motivation.
“I want to give them the type of experience they would have if they weren’t in a nursing home,” Cadmus said. “As if they were going to some church or a program to listen to. A lot of people do this because it makes them feel good, but I just do it for them.”