One 92-year-old Massachusetts man loves to spread holiday cheer through music. And he plans to keep doing so for as long as God gives him. Thomas Ruggles has been spreading festive joy to patients at a local hospital for 15 years by picking on his ukulele.
Ruggles serenades both the hardworking staff and the sick patients with some Christmas classics such as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Those at Emerson Hospital clearly appreciate the gesture from “Tom,” who sports a waistcoat and Santa hat.
“Beautiful. Love it,” one applauding patient told Ruggles,” as reported by ABC News. “Thank you so much, Tom. I appreciate it.” He is a big hit with both patients and staff.
“A lot of them love it,” Ruggles told WCVB. “A lot of them say, ‘You just made my day.'” Some even sing along with him! “The patients could be having an awful day, and he walks in the room, and he sings them a song, and it just brightens them up,” one nurse told WCVB. “They smile. Even the staff. It’s great.”
Emerson Hospital’s public relations manager Leah Lesser says that Tom’s entertainment is just part of an ethos of care, compassion, and fun that the hospital aims to provide. “Tom definitely has a certain magic when it comes to singing and really uplifting the spirits of our patients,” Lesser said. “He’s one great example of our volunteers.”
It was all the way back in 1999 when Tom first set foot in the hospital for an interview with the director of a volunteer program. He brought his ukelele with him. “I said, ‘I want to do something to give back,'” Ruggles recalled. The rest was history, and Tom embarked on a journey to becoming an indispensable part of the volunteer force that helps run the medical facility.
“Emerson volunteer Tom Ruggles never fails to bring a smile to the faces of our patients, visitors, and staff through singing and playing the ukulele!” Emerson Hospital wrote on Facebook. “This holiday season he has been playing and singing festive songs to the delight of patients and staff.”
Lesser described how patients’ “eyes light up” when Tom begins to sing to them.
“For a couple of moments, they can forget about their pain,” she said.
Ruggles explained how he finds it “nourishing” to play for the sick.
“Music is medicine, and it really is,” Ruggles told WCVB. “You know, you can’t be unhappy with people when you’re playing a song.”
And he has no plans to retire anytime soon.
“I love doing it,” he said. “I’ve been doing it 14, 15 years, and I’ll do it 14, 15 more, if God permits.”
God bless this dear man!
Check out more on Tom’s amazing work below: