He hated doing it, but the nursing home smelled clean, and the noises in the background spoke of friendliness and care. Blind except for shadows and a sense of dark and light, he relied on hearing and intuition.
She asked him to stay, and he did. From 8:00 in the morning the two shared memories, walked the halls, and drank coffee on the patio until the taxi arrived at 8:00 in the evening to take him home. As years passed, the staff seemed to forget to call for his cab and it came later each evening.
One morning, the cab driver carried a large suitcase with him as the two walked inside. No cab would be called to take him home.
The couple had rooms next to each other, but often woke up together. When his wife became ill and demanded care around the clock, he slept in the big cushioned chair next to her bed. He stayed by her side when the time came. He held her hand in his, talked to her about things others didn’t understand. His arms were wrapped around her when she drew her last breath.
Word traveled through the home, and one afternoon the nurse approached him. “The lady in room 6-B has no one and won’t last through the night. She asked for you. She will understand if you don’t go. We all will.”
It was difficult, but he saw no choice.
From then on, folks called him the cross-over man. He was called often, and it never got easier. Whether they had no one near, or no one to care, it was left for him. He was near, and he cared. He knew them by their first names. He greeted new residents the day they entered. He spent his days going in and out of each room carrying his smile and a funny story.
He knew more about them than they thought. No, he didn’t know the color of their hair or eyes. Being blind, he was compelled to look further. Deep inside, where the real person lived, where beauty and love existed.
How important is it to have someone present during the final minutes of death? Would you do this for a person who wasn’t a close friend or family member? Your comments are appreciated.