I am a long time repressed hifi aficionado (I was stung by the Sylvania-Dual combo my mum-and-dad had at home when I was a little child) that has finally decided that it was about time to get out of the woods. In the last few months I have gone from having almost no hifi equipment at all to own a Pioneer (SX636) and a Sansui (771) receiver, several B&O receivers and some other strange European stuff, some Pioneer speakers and a pair of NOS Klipsch RB-81 II I bought locally.
This middleaged guy's buying spree has been caused, mainly, by the long months of confinement, by the fact that I have been made well aware that I am not that young any more (and so, buying some hifi stuff could do no damage to the family finances... ha, ha) and by the realisation that maybe tomorrow is no longer what it used to be, and that in some years’ time perhaps I will not be able to enjoy, or care, about what today could make me feel alive and well.
In a word, several months, almost a year ago now, I decided that I was going to spend some serious time and some not so serious money on my secret hobby, neglected since I was a teenager, and I bought the Pioneer. It arrived broken, so after a while, I sent it to be repaired and got it back last week. Meanwhile, for my birthday, I got myself the RB-81 II, and they have been waiting in the attic until yesterday, when I finally decided to give them and the old Pioneer a shot.
Something that needs to be known to understand what has moved me to write this post is that I have spent the last several years living with my parents-in-law, as they cannot see after themselves, due to old age dementia. My father-in-law, a man who loved music with a passion, is now just only a shell of his former self; Alzheimer’s disease has dimmed him to just a shadow of the man he used to be. He almost never relates with the world outside, he seems to be lost in his own inner circle, and rare is the day he manages to say anything.
As I am living now in their place, I was hesitant about setting my stuff; heck, I was hesitant about buying it in the first place, for lack of my own space and for fear of disturbing them; besides I felt somehow selfish for spending time in hifi, with all the world around me going down...
But yesterday, as I have said, I felt the urge to try the Pioneer and the RBs; two months ago I had cranked up the little Bang and Olufsen (with the Pioneer speakers) and, strangely, the old man ventured into the living room to see what was going on. He stayed there for a while, but that was all. Yesterday, after I had the RBs hooked up to the Pioneer, I turned it on, and all of a sudden, the house was filled up with music; the local FM station was broadcasting Walk on the Wild Side, and, oh, boy!! the RBs did the walk… and so did the old man. My wife was with him in the bathroom, helping him with his daily care, and, as she later told me, when she heard Lou Reed, she began dancing and clapping, as she often does, to try to cheer him up, usually to no avail.
Yesterday, however, the old man started to slowly and hesitantly dance with her. And later, when they appeared in the living room, my wife told me, with a shinning smile, that he had been dancing a bit with her, I decided to give it a try, and played some old Beatles songs from youtube, through the amp and the RB-81s, and the old man lit up like a Christmas tree. I was such a joy seeing him dancing with her daughter, and smiling, clearly having the time of his last year and a half, that both my wife and I were speechless. The vivid rendition of the music brought the old man back from the darkness for a little while. And when, after “She loves you”, “Twist’n’shout”, “I want to hold your hand” and “Obladi, Oblada”, my wife took him to the kitchen for lunch, telling him what a great time they had had with the music, the old man still had one more surprise for us: he told her in a coarse voice, as probably those were some of the first words uttered by him in the last months, “good music… good sounding music”…
And that is how the Klipsch RB-81 IIs brought some light into the darkness of Alzheimer and into my family. Their sheer liveliness brought back memories from the past for my father-in-law, and for a passing moment, he related to the world outside, and he had a genuinely good time.
I can only say “Thank you for the feelings, Klipsch”.