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A Songbird Finds New Ways to Sing


From the time she was born, everyone loved to hear Maxine Kirk sing, and she, in turn, loved to sing for them. Maxine’s delightfully sweet soprano voice would carry through her childhood home in China Grove all day, every day.  Occasionally, Maxine’s father would yearn for a bit of silence, and she was happy to oblige – for a price.

Assisted living resident Maxine Kirk shares her story.

Maxine Kirk resides at Carillon of Salisbury

“Nobody ever paid me to sing, but Daddy did pay me a quarter now and then to shut up!” said Maxine, who now makes her home at Carillon Assisted Living of Salisbury.

She didn’t give any serious thought to a professional singing career, though she was told, on many occasions, that she possessed a rare talent. Instead, Maxine married, worked full-time for Duke Power, and was content for her singing to be a hobby that she indulged though her church choir and as a member of the Charlotte Choral Society.

She didn’t fully appreciate how much singing meant to her life until a heart operation robbed her of her singing voice several years ago.

“I went in for a routine check-up, ended up in the hospital for a serious heart operation, and have not been able to sing since,” said Maxine. “People would say, ‘Well, you should just be glad to be alive.’ They meant well, I know, but it made me so mad every time they said that. Singing meant the world to me.”


In time, Maxine’s world filled with song once again; music from far away places. She discovered a passion for travel, and for nearly 20 years, she indulged it every opportunity she got. She lost count of the stamps in her passport. “Where did I go?” she repeats. “A better question is: where didn’t I go? I went just about every place you can think of, and some places twice! I was part of this wonderful travel group; friends who just wanted to see the world. And we did see the world.”

Australia and New Zealand were her favorite trips, she says. The landscape, ecology and culture were so different from life here in the southern United States, yet Maxine felt a kinship with the hardworking, down-to-earth people she encountered there, too.  She remembers coming home from those trips with a deeper understanding of human nature, and an appreciation for being an American and a southerner.

Her days as a world traveler are over now, due in part to a severe stroke that nearly took her life. She recovered well, but Maxine says she is content now to plant her feet firmly on the same hometown soil that has nurtured her all these years.

“I am the least lonely person you will ever meet,” she says. “I moved here to Carillon with no expectations, really, but oh! How I have enjoyed it here. There is so much to do, so many people to be with. And everyone treats you like you’re family to them.”


Posted in Resident and Community Life, Resources, Sage Stories on August 22, 2013

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