Patient’s life inspires ‘A Song for Melba’

By Lin Sue Cooney
Director of Community Engagement, Hospice of the Valley


“We’ve traveled a long way together

The road that we both made is long

But all of our best days… no matter the weather

Together… singing our song”

Hospice of the Valley patient Melba Deal and her husband, Bob, were surrounded by family as they heard—for the first time—“A Song for Melba.” The soulful lyrics, written and recorded by New York City musician Emily Cavanagh, capture the love between two people who have shared 64 years together.

“I’m amazed at how she was able to capture so many real, genuine parts of our lives,” Bob says.

When Melba’s social worker, Lisa Maddock, learned Cavanagh had offered to write songs inspired by the life stories of Hospice of the Valley patients, she quickly reached out.

“I obviously adore Melba!” Maddock says as she and Melba’s nurse, Susan Young, played the melody in the Phoenix home the couple share with daughter Dawn. “Music is such a big part of their lives. It just seemed like a perfect fit. My heart explodes every time I listen to this song!”

Melba, 85, and Bob, 86, were surprised and touched—as were all four of their children.

“How does it work to love somebody a lifetime/

A house grows on dirt… that’s not what makes it a home/

64 years and darling, I love you/

You’ll be the best part of me… even after I’ve gone”

“It’s beautiful,” the family’s matriarch says softly, a bit shy about all the attention. Her daughter was a lot more effusive. “What a special honor! Hospice of the Valley has gone above and beyond with every little thing, taking great individual care of our mom and supporting our dad,” Dawn says.

Bob never dreamed of such a gift. “For people at this juncture of their lives to know there is an organization that is so sensitive to our needs, it’s very gratifying.”

Meanwhile, Cavanagh has been busy composing for other Hospice of the Valley families, one original song at a time. “I am the one who feels honored,” she gushes. “I’m so thankful to be a part of this!”