• 61°

Nothing stands in his way

When Marvin Mills, 73, was lying in the hospital after a 13-hour emergency heart surgery at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, his mind was on one thing.

“People told me, when I woke up, the only thing I was worried about was who was going to play on Tuesday,” Mills said.

For the past 20 years, Mills has faithfully performed with his band every Tuesday night for the residents at the Bon Secours Maryview Nursing Care Center. He recently was recognized by the center as its volunteer of the year.

“I’m just there to be there with those people,” Mills said. “I started with a friend of mine, but once we got started he ventured off, but I stayed. It has become more like a ministry for me. It has been hard through the years. But when I get up in the morning, I can breathe and walk. I’m thankful to the Lord I’ve got another day, and I feel like you ought to give back.”

Neither heart attack nor money could keep Mills away on a Tuesday night.

He has been offered good-paying gigs on Tuesday evenings, but he never took them.

“It’s not about any money,” Mills said. “It makes no difference. I don’t care. I just want to be there with those people. People are always wondering what someone can do for them, but it doesn’t do anything for the Man upstairs.”

During more than 20 years playing, Mills has seen people come and go and others who stay.

“A lot of people whose family members have been at Maryview and passed on still come in every Tuesday night,” Mills said. “One evening someone came to me and told me someone had passed away the night before, but that his wife was in the crowd. Afterwards, I went to talk to her. She said, ‘Marvin, you know my husband died last night.’ I said, ‘I know it.’ She’s been there every night since.”

Although there have been changes throughout the years, Mills said the fact he plays every week will never change.

“I’ll be playing until the Lord calls me home,” Mills said. “There’s a lot of people whose families put them in there and then forget about them,” Mills said. “It’s upsetting to me. I’ve lost a father and a sister. It’s upsetting to me that people forget. So, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll stay right there.”