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Norman Regional’s ‘Piano Man

Norman Regional’s ‘Piano Man

NORMAN—Norman Regional Hospital frequently sees a visitor who comes just to receive and share the gift of music.

James Washington, 59, has been coming to the south lobby of Norman Regional Hospital, 901 N. Porter Ave., for the last two years to play the piano.

Washington usually comes early in the mornings as he’s able to just play “whatever is on his mind” without interfering with most people’s normal work day.

He taught himself how to play on Norman Regional’s piano because he said he always had the desire to play the piano. He said he couldn’t believe such a nice piano had a sign letting visitors know they were welcome to play it. Washington still doesn’t know how to read music or even know what notes he’s playing.

“I don’t know A from B. I just play what I feel, play what I enjoy, and play whatever God has me play,” he said. “It’s a blessing to have a nice piano like this to play on. It brings out the music.”

Washington lives in Noble, but his daughter, Jada, attends Wilson Elementary School in Norman. After he drops her off at school for her music lessons, he comes to Norman Regional to play if he’s not working early that morning.

“She’s my motivation,” Washington said of Jada, who plays violin and sings in the fifth grade choir.

The piano was donated to the hospital by the Norman Regional Auxiliary. Washington said being able to play the piano at Norman Regional has been a gift to him.

“The piano gives me peace of mind. Everyone is struggling to make it,” he said.

Washing added that playing the piano has also been a gift to some of the patients and families that come through the hospital. He said that God uses the music to give those patients and families peace of mind and helps them heal.

“It makes me feel good to be uplifting for other people who are in pain,” he said. “You’ll have hurt, you’ll have pain, but God has a next level he wants us to be at.”

Washington grew up in Germany and never learned how to read in English, he hasn’t seen his family for most of his life, and he lived through Hurricane Katrina. He said he’s lived through some pain, but the pain he’s gone through made him the man he is today and he’s thankful for that pain.

He said he has worked hard to live the best life possible through it all. Washington has been a self-employed carpenter since 1992 and prides himself in his work. He has been married to his wife, Jackie, who works at Norman Regional, for 27 years. He has his children from his first marriage, and has his daughter Jada, who is he and Jackie’s miracle baby. She was born after Hurricane Katrina.

“I thank God for my life. People are always looking for bigger, greater things, but you have to appreciate the little things and thank God for the blessings you have,” Washington said. “That piano—the music—it puts me in the mentality the Lord needs me in. It’s creating His love in me. I’m thankful for Norman Regional to have this piano for me to play.”