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Kevin Wallevand, Forum Communications, Published September 21 2012

98-year-old Moorhead woman with Alzheimer's still has a song in her heart

Moorhead - Selma Weatherford is 98 and has Alzheimer's disease. But in all the confusion this brings to her life, it is the piano, that still has a place in her world.

It is not uncommon to find Selma Weatherford comforting a red-haired, plastic doll in her room at Moorhead's Golden Living.

And sometimes this is what soothes and calms them. For Selma, it is no doll. It's her baby.

For Selma's daughter Lois, it is comforting, yet hard to sit and watch.

This is her mother. Who grew up one of 12 on a farm near Glyndon. She raised her own family. But now Alzheimer's has robbed those memories.

Lois Arneson/Selma's Daughter: "It is, it is heartbreaking. It is."

Yet, nearly every day, Selma throws Alzherimers on its head, and amazes everyone at the piano.

For more than 20 years, Selma volunteered her time playing the piano at area nursing homes. Despite the cruel jokes Alzheimer's plays on the mind, Selma has been able to hold on to her piano playing.

Lois: "I am so grateful she can still do this."

No one is sure how she can do it. Her feet even keep time. Her daughter simply hums a measure or two, and Selma is off tickling the ivories. Songs of her yesterday.

Lois: "That is what I enjoy the old tunes, World War II."

Sounds and remembrances that will not leave her.

These days, it is sometimes hard for family to communicate with Selma. Alzheimer's just doesn't stop to consider how hard it is on those who watch the decline. But to stand back and watch Selma, we are reminded of that pioneer spirit.

Perseverance by a 98-year-old piano player whose gifts echo in the halls of a nursing home.

Selma, as she acknowledges the crowd: "Thank You"

And Selma will turn 99 in April.