My candidate for being a miraculous event which I document here might be just a fortunate coincidence. However, there is a point at which it amazes me every time I think of it. To me it was a fantastic number of coincidences. Too many to be a common experience.
To set the stage, I was living at Teacher’s Residence which was an assisted-living residence on Park Avenue, Minneapolis (now an Ebenezer facility). I was also employed by Teacher’s as their 11 PM-to-7 AM watch person. It was during the years from 1995 to 1998 when I was unemployed at Unisys, going to school, and working at Premier and Stratasys. At Teacher’s my job was simply being ready so that If anyone had issues during the night and pulled their emergency cord, I was the first responder. Occasionally, but not often, I had to call 911 for help.
The other residents of Teacher’s were of all ages from 55 (myself) up to 104 or so. Mostly above 65 or 70. The couple who was involved in my incident was a couple in their 90s. The husband was a retired minister named Tony. His wife was Mary. She was suffering from some sort of dementia. During their residence at Teacher’s, I had spoken to Tony. But I can’t remember ever talking to Mary. She was usually with Tony and I believe I would say, “Hi” as they walked by.
It should also be known that my role at Teacher’s was not a big deal as I recall. I don’t recall ever being “introduced” to the residents. Residents were probably informed that “Bill Bailey” was the night watch person, but they might not have known who I was, and it was even more unlikely that they knew where my room was located.
Between 11 PM and 7 AM, my phone would ring if I had an emergency. Lifeline, a commercial service, had my number and I also had some connection to a local call board in the old nursing area. If someone pulled their alarm cord in their room, the call board would tell me the room where the cord had been pulled. I would rush to the room to see what help was needed.
To give you a notion of locale, I lived in a small room on the 3rd of six floors at Teacher’s. My door opened on an east-west corridor. To the west of my room was a lounge area with a card table for working jigsaw puzzles, a couch, and an easy chair. Except for Bill, the former dam-building engineer, who worked on those jigsaw puzzles, there was hardly ever anyone in the lounge. Just beyond the lounge was the elevator and finally the long north-south corridor.
So, we get to the night of interest. It was probably between 1 and 3 AM. As usual, all was quiet. My hallway was dark, but it received a trickle of light from the north-south corridor that was usually lit. I had gone to sleep. But I must have been sleeping lightly. I woke with the sense that someone was opening the door of my room. When I raised up to look, I could see that the door was closing slowly.
Hum. Strange. No one had ever opened that door – least of all at night. No one roamed the halls after 11 PM except for me.
Quickly getting on my pants and shirt, I went to the door and opened it. I stepped out into the hall. Just across from me sitting on the lounge couch was Mary. I could barely see her in the dim light coming from the main north-south hallway.
“Hello, Mary,” I said, “What are you doing out here?” She responded that she was looking for her room. I know I asked where Tony was, and I don’t recall that she answered. So puzzling. I suggested that we go, and I could find her room for her. I knew where her room was on the main corridor. So, we slowly walked to her room. Stopping at the door, I asked her if this was the room she shared with Tony. I didn’t know how confused she was, and I didn’t want to ask her to go into a room that was not familiar to her. She seemed to know that this was her front door, so I took my master key and opened it.
This was a two-room apartment. The front door opened into the living area. To the right at the end of the living area was the doorway to the bedroom. A light lit up the entry way. Other then that the living area was dark. I called for Tony and got no answer. I could see that the bedroom light was lit. So, we walked to the bedroom. For a brief moment, I was really concerned for there was no sign of Tony. Did I have to find him? Where would he have gone?
However, moving around the bed, I found Tony on his back right next to the bed. There he lay surrounded by broken pieces of porcelain. He was talking now. He knew Mary was there also. Maybe he could see her standing at the foot of the bed.
As I got down to see how Tony was, the two lovely old folks shared a few words. It was an impromptu sentimental exchange which probably summed up their relationship. Tony in his raspy and pleading voice says, “Mary, Mary, I broke your porcelain!” He had apparently hit the display case as he fell. Mary responded comfortingly, “Tony, they are only things!”
It was so wonderful to hear that exchange. In a second, Mary was able to acknowledge that she could empty herself and acknowledge that Tony was the most important in her life – no thing. I believe those porcelain figurines were precious memories of their younger life -- full of things. They were here as Mary’s last attempt at “downsizing.” She was now ready to let them go.
I know that I helped Tony up. Miraculously he was not cut by any of the sharp pieces of porcelain that were around him. Had he fallen first and pulled down the display case as he fell? If so, why was he not covered with the curios? I don’t recall that any of the items that were strewn on the floor were still intact.
Interestingly as I slid my left arm around Tony, I cut myself on one of the pieces lying beside him.
As I recall, I just put Tony and Mary to bed and cleaned up the floor. I don’t really recall too much else. I must have reported the incident in the AM to the nurse who returned to duty at 7 AM. Whatever transpired later that morning, Tony and Mary were whisked across the street to a large Ebenezer Residence and more constant care. I never saw them again and never was able to piece together what had transpired that night. Tony never indicated that Mary had been sent out for help. If, in fact, she was looking for help. She never indicated why she was out in the hall. As she sat on the couch, she had only mentioned that she was looking for her room. I will never know what possessed her – in her level of cognition – to choose to open my door. I am betting that nearly every other door in the building was locked securely by their residents.
It was sort of a miracle in which I was allowed to participate.
7/20/2019 8:23:31 AM