Funny how you see things, smell things, live things every day, but they don’t always directly affect you.
I don’t know my patients. They are who they are when they present to me, they are not who they were before they did.
Yet, today was different. She was not who she presented to be, she was the shell of the woman I have always known. The old woman who always had a smile and a twinkle in her eye, a twinkle that seemed to become more mischievous the older she became.
“She smells today.” My mother noted.
I know that smell. I smell it every day. But not here. I do not know it here.
She had trouble opening her eyes. When she did she couldn’t see clearly. Couldn’t hear. Couldn’t understand what she saw, what she somewhat heard.
She kept asking who I was, she thought I was Chara, the one with the boy. I didn’t correct her.
Her hospice aid, Gigi, came and bathed her and gave her excellent care. She knew her. She said she was her pal.
Funny. I take care of perfect strangers all the time and here was my own, lying in her bed, on hospice, and I was watching her pal, Gigi.
I went to the kitchen and listened as the hospice nurse explained to my great aunt about the medications in the hospice kit. This is for this, this is for that, this helps with this.
Funny. I was hearing a lecture about medications I give regularly.
It was time to leave.
I went and sat on her bed.
“I’m ready to go, but I guess the Lord isn’t through with me yet”, she said. I smiled.
“Are you Phil’s?”
“Yes,” I said, “I’m Tara”.
“Oh, you have a boy”.
“No, that’s Chara, I’m Tara”.
“Oh”. She smiled. “That’s right, that’s Chara”.
And there was that twinkle. And for a moment she knew who I was. For a moment I was Tara.
I rubbed and patted her back.
“Oh, that feels good. I may go back to sleep,” she said.
I kissed her head and rubbed her back and looked at the body of my 104 year old great-grandmother.
Funny when the patient is yours. When the patient isn’t a patient. Funny to know who she was and not who she is.
“I’ll see you later” I whispered.
And left her for probably the last time.