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The Touching Story Behind the Video of a Man with Dementia Remembering his Own Song

Best Life logo Best Life 26/06/2019 Diana Bruk
a man standing in front of a piano © Provided by Best Life

On Sunday, Nick Harvey, 47, of Crowborough, England, posted a video of his father, Paul Harvey, 79, that has touched the hearts of the millions of people who have watched it. The video shows him asking his father, who has dementia, to play a melody called “Where’s the Sunshine?” which the elder Harvey composed in 1981.

“He thought he wouldn’t be able to remember it,” Nick tweeted along with the video. But then, Paul placed his fingers on the keys and the beautiful piece poured out of him without pause.

When reached via email, Nick said that his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia a few months ago. Living with the illness has obviously been painful for the Harvey family.

“Often I can tell he is getting sucked into his own world,” Nick said. “[But] one thing we have noticed as family is that when he listens to music, especially when he plays the piano, he breaks out of that.”

On Sunday, Paul came over for lunch, as he usually does, and “gravitated to the piano like a magnet.” Nick decided to capture the moment, but he couldn’t have guessed how poignant the resulting footage would be.

a man holding a flower: elderly man playing piano viral video © Provided by Best Life elderly man playing piano viral video

“I filmed it because I didn’t know how many more moments I would have with him,” Nick said. “I asked him if he would play his own composition from 1981. As you can see from the video, he initially didn’t think he could remember it, and then something mentally clicked, and then off he goes.”

The video quickly went viral, gaining more than 2.7 million views on Twitter and 22,000 retweets in just two days.

“I never thought it would go viral,” Nick said. “I thought people would find it quite moving but not to the point of two million views already on Twitter and then obviously the other platforms as well. It is not only the story behind it, but it’s the music, it’s the power of dad’s music.”

a man smiling for the camera: elderly man playing piano viral video © Provided by Best Life elderly man playing piano viral video

Though Nick said he is “over the moon” that his father has “reached a wider audience,” it’s the memory that he’s really holding on to.

“It was a beautiful moment, and everything that has transpired since it is a keepsake for us and the family,” Nick said.

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