I work as a In Home Companion for a reputable retirement community. Our main goal is to allow our clients the opportunity to live within their own homes, or the home of a family member and not be forced into the "system" and ultimately into nursing homes. We go into the homes and either clean, cook, visit or just read our clients mail to them, anything that they can no longer do on their own. In keeping with our confidentiality practice, I will name my client Sophie.
I had not met Sophie before the night that I was hired to sit with her until her daughter and son-in-law came home from a concert. This was the first time in years that the daughter had taken time out for herself, so it was a bit difficult herding her out the door in the first place. It is often difficult for the primary caregiver to think that it is alright to leave their loved one in the hands of someone else, even if they are two steps away from a nervous breakdown. The responsibility gene kicks in and they feel, in general, that their own sanity is a small price to pay for the comfort of their ward.
We had an uneventful evening. I made Sophie a small meal and we just talked, and at her request, I read to her out of the Holy Bible. Shortly afterward we began a discussion that should make it on this site, but I can not bring myself to do that. Sophie was ninety-seven and the history that she lived was a magnet to me. I could not stop asking questions in between rest periods. She was amazing and her mind was as sharp as any I have had the fortune of testing.
Sophie told me that when the family brought her the list of candidates for the babysitting of that night, she set the list on her stomach as she lay in bed, placed her hand over the names, closed her eyes and just blanked out her thoughts until a name came to her. What she came up with was a last name. But it was not my last name.
The family called my manager and asked for a caregiver with the name that Sophie chose. They apologized to my manager and explained that Sophie would not let anyone but the person who had that name stay in her house alone with her. My manager and the family were understandably upset as there was no one of that name on the payroll. The daughter really needed a time out, so they tried to come up with a different solution, and thought to deceive Sophie into thinking one of the caregivers had that name.
The next day, my manager told me that I would not be going to Sophie's house and explained why. She mentioned the name and I just stared at her. My application only shows my married name. The name that Sophie had in her mind was none other than my maiden name.
Near the end of the evening together, I went to make her a light snack and get a drink ready for her bedside table. I was out of her sight for approximately twenty minutes, just peeking in to make sure everything was still good. As I stood in Sophie's doorway to ask if she would like anything else before bed, she asked me why I walked out on her earlier. I knew I had been in the kitchen and so I asked her what she meant.
Minutes before I was to walk back into her bedroom a light colored clothed individual was visiting with her in the room. In my job I wear a very light green scrub suit, so I thought perhaps her mind had wandered back a few more minutes than usual and thought to tell her that I did not walk out, and I was sorry if I had in the middle of a conversation.
I prepared her night clothes and took her in for the nightly bathroom process and returned her to her room. I then took the dog out for a short walk. When I got back in the home I checked in on Sophie and she again asked why I left in the middle of a conversation. I was at a loss. I had no idea what was going on and tried to calm Sophie down by telling her that a lot was on my mind and I thought the conversation was over and apologized. As I was outside the home, I knew it was not me that she saw, but could come up with no explanation.
I thought perhaps she was stressed as this was the first time in a while someone else was caring for her instead of her daughter. I stood in her doorway and asked if I should perhaps turn on the overhead lights instead of leaving just the Christmas lights on. She loved the glow that the lights gave off and only wanted those lights all over the home on.
Sophie then shuddered so violently I thought she was having a seizure. She whipped her head to the left so that she was no longer looking at me, but towards the outside window. I ran to her side and grabbed her hand. She refused to look at me, or even turn her head my way. I asked her what was wrong, what could I do to help? All she did was lift up her right arm, point her finger out the room into the hall and said "What do you see out there?".
I chilled. Shivers went up and down the entire length of my body and I struggled with myself to actually turn around. I closed my eyes, looked down at Sophie and all of my Motherly instincts kicked in. I was going to protect this little lady if it was the last thing I was able to do. I wanted to call my family to tell them I loved them all, I wanted to right all the wrongs of the day, but I did NOT want to look out that door and see that someone had come in while I was out walking Sophie's dog.
Hanging above her "down" stairs was an Autumn wreath with dried flowers and grasses, beautiful really, but that was all I saw. She told me to look in the wreath. I did, nothing. I handed her glasses to her and asked if it was still there, and yes it was. I asked for a description. Her hand tightened in mine and she said "He looks lovely. More like a country sunset makes you feel than anything else wondrous..." I thought, Well, crud, what is it?
She fell asleep shortly thereafter with me holding her hand and staying by her side while glancing out in the hall repeatedly. As her breathing became heavier I said out loud: "If you are here to scare Sophie, I have to ask you to leave. We do not want you here. If you are here to take Sophie, I am afraid I can not stop you, but please do it in peace..."
The next morning my manager called and let me know that Sophie had passed on several hours after I left her home. She had died in her sleep with a smile on her lips and a content sigh. I have often wondered, since then, what drew her to me and how did she know my name having never met me? Most importantly I wonder if I was what she needed that night, and not only who she wanted.