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Wish Stories

Patrick Jams with Johnny Sansone

There’s a music venue in New Orleans that’s so iconic it even has its own shade of yellow.

That would be “Tipitina’s yellow,” the bright banana-yellow exterior of the local cultural landmark loved by regulars and tourists alike. Tipitina’s has hosted all sorts of performers and artists, from the R&B soul sounds of the Neville Brothers to Professor Longhair playing the New Orleans Blues.

And recently, another local musician graced the Tipitina’s stage: Patrick, age 66, from Pierre Part, Louisiana.

Music has been a part of Patrick’s life for as long as he can remember. When he was young, his first guitar was how he navigated his emotions—a way to celebrate the good times and an escape from the hard times. Whenever he needed a moment to himself, he could sneak off into the mountains and get lost in the music.

Music was Patrick’s gift. As he grew older, Patrick would play gigs for locals between his shifts working on an oil rig.

Patrick is a generous soul, known for continually giving to those in need and thinking of others before himself. His wife Debra could tell you so many stories—like when he was tipped a whopping $100 at a performance and instantly split it up among his band. She’ll let you know how he’d stop to help anyone on the side of the road. Or how he played the blues to soothe his family’s spirits and sorrows when they’ve lost a loved one.

Debra can attest that Patrick always has a harmonica in his pocket, ready to play a tune at a moment’s notice. His musical repertoire has grown to include the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, and not to be overlooked, his own beautiful singing voice.

You can imagine how for Patrick and Debra, family gatherings would quickly turn into multi-generational jam sessions with their children and grandchildren joining in the fun. Music was part of the fabric of their life.


It still is today, but Patrick’s relationship with music has changed since he was diagnosed with dementia four years ago. While he cannot play like he used to, his face still lights up when a melody reaches his ears. That’s why Wish of a Lifetime was honored to help grant Patrick’s wish: To celebrate his passion and rekindle his love of live music at a New Orleans venue.

Is there anything better than dinner and a show? First, Patrick, Debra, and their two daughters enjoyed a great meal from local seafood favorites Frankie & Johnnies. Then they headed down Tchoupitoulas Street to Tipitina’s for a private concert.

But this was more than just a show. With his harmonica and guitar at the ready, Patrick joined harmonica legend Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone on stage! He tapped his feet and played along with the blues band, even serenading the small audience with a harmonica solo of his own.

It was the kind of night you wish would never end. So much so that when they got home, Patrick told Debra that they needed to “wake up early in the morning to go do it all again!”

Debra told us that she felt the same way, remarking on how big Patrick’s smile was and how good it felt to see him playing his instruments and connecting to the music.

“I need to fast forward to today,” Debra said. “Because I’m still in the wish!”

For their family, it was a moment they’ll always treasure… and a melody they’ll never forget.

Wish of a Lifetime from AARP is changing how we age, one inspirational wish at a time.

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