A nursing somewhat fictional story
As the alarm rings, she does her usual internal debate about going to work. Work was doing immense loads of laundry at an assisted living center. It was hard physical work and made her bones ache. Every day the same argument. What excuse can I come up with this time so I don't have to go. Then the alarm rings again. She knows she's going and gets up.
The saving grace, that makes her go are the residents. Some are comatose, most in wheelchairs, some who won't know who she is although she speaks to them every day. The smiles that always come on their faces when she speaks to them are so responsive. She tries to keep their connections open by smiling and talking to them.
Sunday is the big "let's go see poor Mom or Dad or Grandpa today. We won't have to stay long and they will be so grateful. " She sees these visitors stream in and out of the patient's rooms and wishes they would just stay out of her way.
Some residents are lucky enough to have family members visit every day. They sit and talk and touch and say I love you through body language. She loves these visitors. One in particular is a husband who comes in the morning and stays with his decreasing wife all day. At the end of the day, he goes home and comes back the next morning and does it all over again. He's never missed a day in the two months his wife has been a patient.
At the end of one of the hallways is a room she never fails to notice. It's empty now, hopefully the resident has gone to a better place and is not hurting any more. She remembers this ancient man because of the astounding thing that happened after he was gone.
She used to go in his room, delivering his clean clothes while he laid in his bed, not moving or responding to her smiles. She wasn't sure he even heard her. She'd heard doctors say people in comas or a motionless depression can hear you, they just don't respond. She always made it a point to linger and talk to him, telling him about her life and her problems. On her days off, she would take a Zane Gray novel into his room, sit beside his bed, and read to him.
One Sunday as she sat there reading, his family came into the room.
"HEY! DAD! HOW ARE YOU!" asks the man. Why he is shouting? The woman comes over to the bed and kisses the air above the old man. The two teenagers hang back. "He smells. He can't hear us anyway. Why bother?"
Thankfully, the visit is short. "Honey, let's go. I see no point in coming here, he doesn't even know us."
"But, Sweetie. It's our Christian duty. Besides he does have all that money and we're family. Who else is he going to leave it to. We have to pretend, right?"
She could have hit them, such a cruel family. After they leave, she murmurs in the old man's ear, "Don't think about them. I'm here and I'll be here forever." She strokes his hair and sits back down, continuing to read.
A few weeks later, she stops by the little closet library, picks up Zane and heads to the old man's room. One of the nurses pulls her aside and says, "Mr. Younger passed last night. I thought you would want to know because you cared so much about him."
Her reaction is bittersweet. She's glad he's out of the home and dancing in Heaven but she will miss the quiet times in his room. Besides reading to him, she had talked about her struggles, lessons she had learned through pain. Somehow, she knew he understood. And he never ever criticized her for her choices, a blessing to be sure.
The following week, she received a message from a man who said he was Mr. Younger's lawyer. What was that about?
She visited the lawyer's office the next morning and discovered that Mr. Younger had been a multi-millionaire. And he had left it all to her with a personal message.
"My very dear young lady. You were the one shining light in my long months of decline. I heard every word you spoke. By the way, I, also, heard every word my family said. That's why I'm leaving everything to you. You are my family. Don't worry about the sharks. I left them something with constrictions so they wouldn't come after you. You were an angel to me and now I'm watching over you."
Mr. Edward David Younger
She couldn't believe it. She could quit her job, buy a new house. Heck, she had enough money to move to the mountains, one of her dreams.
But, mindful of the lesson contained in Mr. Younger's message, she didn't quit her job. It wasn't the possibility of another inheritance that kept her going. It was the definite possibility that forgotten residents could hear.
Word Count 850