Stan Rogers, of Trenton, visited Anchor Health & Rehab in Aiken on Thursday – singing for about a dozen residents, including Edith Hammon.
She doesn't hear well these days, and her son, John Church, connected a powerful speaker with headphones for her.
Hammon did hear the song, enough to tear up when Rogers performed such a charming selection in honor of her 105th birthday – “Remember When.”
Employees had given her a cake and applause a few minutes earlier – thanks to the efforts of staff member Darcy Hammonds. Church, 80, gently attended to his mother, feeding her a slice of cake.
Hammon's roommate, Doris Woodward, joined them in the lobby.
Woodward is legally blind, but tries to help her friend out a bit. She's 91. Myong Kang, a nurse who works with Hammon, stopped by to greet her warmly.
For Hammon, her life was much about perseverance after her birth in 1909. She grew up in an era of the horse and buggy – and no electricity.
She attended college for a year and then went to work as a secretary. Soon she married, and Church was born in 1934. Eighteen months later, Hammon's husband abandoned both of them.
Hammon got a job in Dayton, and her son attended boarding school for kindergarten and first grade. They lived in a residence for single mothers and others who had lost their husbands.
Then Church moved to Logan, Ohio, to live with his great-grandmother. Hammon would travel there on weekends, but it got to be too much for her. She had to take off some time and lived with her parents in the country.
After Hammon's father died, she moved in with her son and her grandmother, and then her mother followed.
“I was in Logan living with my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother,” Church said with a rueful smile. “All of them were tough, stern, independent control freaks.”
His grandmother and great-grandmother died a few years later; and Church eventually left for college. He went on to earn a master's degree and came to work at the Savannah River Site in 1963.
His mother remained at the old house in Logan for a total of 60 years and always had a cat for company. When Hammon was about 70, she married a grocer named Harry Hammon, Church said.
Church and his wife brought Hammon to Aiken in 2005 to an assisted living facility before moving her to what is now Anchor. Kang, an Aiken resident for 30 years, said she loves Hammon.
“She doesn't remember a lot of things,” Kang said. “But she recognizes me and will smile. I'll wear bright colors for my uniform, and she'll say, 'That looks good on you,' and that makes me feel so good.”
Throughout the small celebration, Church remained by his mother's side.
So has Hammon kept him feeling younger? He glanced up, surprised and then amused. “No, not really.”
Stan Rogers has been singing for 40 years, mostly gospel, as well as country, and some Elvis songs, although “I don't sound like that.”
He had heard “Remember When” before, but had never performed it until Thursday.
“I think God just set it up.”
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since 2001.