When I was around eight my mom use to work in a care home, sometimes I had to ride the bus there after school to wait for her shift to end. Usually it was only an hour or so wait and my mom's boss didn't mind me being there as long as I stayed in the nurses break room and was quiet. Which was no problem for me, considering I was raised to be seen and not heard from a very young age. Though one night that was a very difficult rule to keep.
As I was reading one of my library books I kept hearing a woman crying. Which was odd because it was 7:30pm on a Wednesday night, meaning most residents were in the activity hall playing bingo or quilting, depending on the week or visiting with family in their rooms. This cry sounded too close, like it was coming from the sunroom.
Normally a tearful patient didn't bother me, I was used to hearing random break downs and occasional outburst from the residents and a nurse would normally check it out. But for some reason nobody was responding to this woman's obvious sobs. I tried to ignore it, but it was really pulling at my heart strings.
Knowing the closest thing to the sunroom was a restroom and I wasn't allowed to use the Staff's, I lied to the head nurse at the station and told her I had to go in case my mom came to check on me. I quickly went into the lobby and followed the cry into the sitting room to see a well known resident Mrs. Dolly holding her head in her hands weeping. She was always such a sweet lady and spoke to me every time she saw me come in from the bus.
As I slowly approached her I remembered that she wasn't in the sitting room when I came in that day but just shrugged it off, sitting down next to her so I could see if she needed a nurse. When I asked her, she looked up at me with her striking blue eyes tears streaming down her face and said "They can't help me child, I got to go home." Not knowing what to do because I knew she wasn't allowed to leave I looked around, hoping to see a nurse without having to leave her.
I looked over at her again and she wouldn't stop crying. I asked her what I could do to help, she smiled for a second and said "Sing me a hymn." Considering I was raised in church I knew a lot of them but for some reason my mind went blank. So I asked her which one? "Down by the river, it calms me so." I only knew the main chorus so I began singing it to her softly desperate to calm her down until I saw a nurse, everything in me said don't leave her.
I had only gotten out the first line "As I go down by the river to pray, studying about that good ole way if you shall wear a starry crown good lord show me the way..." And she stood up and started to walk down the hall. I followed her down the hall quietly and where it turned into a bend she was gone. I looked everywhere possible and she was nowhere in sight. There is no way she could move that quickly.
I ran back to the nurses station and went to tell one of the nurses, only for her to tell me to go back in the break room there was an alarm going off, she ran to the room it was coming from. When she came back a little teary eyed my mom wasn't far behind her and asked me what happened. I told her about Mrs. Dolly and how she was crying and asked me to sing to her. Both of their jaws all but hit the floor, apparently as I was in the sitting room Mrs. Dolly had died and my mother and another nurse were the only ones with her.
I never will forget that night and every time I hear that hymn I feel her with me.