By Betty Killebrew
Sarah Anne often went to the nursing home with her mother. They went to visit Sarah Anne’s grandmother, but Sarah Anne was a favorite of the other residents. Sometimes the sickest, most despondent residents would raise their heads to smile at Sarah Anne when she came tripping down the hall.
When Sarah Anne’s mother wheeled her grandmother to the lounge to visit, the other residents in the lounge all watched Sarah Anne from the time she entered until she waved and called out, “Bye” as she left.
One day Sarah Anne pulled away from her mother as they went down the hall. She entered a room where an old woman lay very still on her bed. She stopped a few inches from the bed. The old woman blinked her eyes open and smiled. She slowly raised one hand with 4 fingers extended, and tapped on that hand with the other. Sarah Anne’s mother understood and said, “Yes, she is four years old.” Sarah Anne just stood there beside the woman. Just before she left, she reached out to pat the old woman’s hand.
Over the next week, Sarah Anne wanted to go to the nursing home every day. Most days her mother took her. Every day, Sarah Anne stopped at the bedside of the old woman. After the first couple of days, the old lady would barely open her eyes when Sarah Anne stopped by her bedside; but Sarah Anne always patted her hand before she turned around and left. One day, as she turned to leave, her mother saw tears in Sarah Anne’s eyes.
The next day Sarah Anne’s mother heard that the old lady her daughter usually visited had passed away in the night. She wondered how she would explain it to Sarah Anne. As it turned out, there was no need to explain. When they went down the hall the following day, Sarah Anne did not even pause at the door; she just kept walking toward her grandmother’s room.
Over the next year, Sarah Anne’s pilgrimage to the bedside of one old soul or another was repeated time and time again. The nurses soon realized that Sarah Anne somehow knew, perhaps only at the level of her soul, when a person was nearing the time to pass. Of course her mother also realized this; but she was reluctant to ask her daughter how she knew, fearing that Sarah Anne would somehow feel responsible.
Then one day Sarah Anne was skipping down the hall toward her grandmother’s room when she stopped short. Then she continued slowly to her grandmother and began to stroke her hand.
Sarah Anne’s mother noticed Grandma was noticeably weaker than she had been only a few days before. She shivered as she watched her daughter’s careful attention to the old woman.
That night she asked Sarah if she thought Grandma would still be in her room the next day, “Yes, Mommy,” the girl replied. “She’ll be there a little while more.”
Knowing her daughter as she did, Sarah Anne’s mother called all the relatives to come and bid the old woman goodbye. Most of them thought Grandma looked pretty good and was not in any danger; but early the next day when Sarah Ann and her mother returned to the nursing home as early in the morning as possible, Sarah Ann stopped halfway down the hall.
“The angel’s gone, Mommy,” Sarah Ann said. “She took Grandma with her.” Then although her mother went into the room to see if what Sarah Anne had said was true, Sarah Anne went on to the lounge and visited with other residents.
Disclaimer: This story is not true, but it does reflect the compassion I have seen in several small children who have gone with me to nursing homes to visit the elderly. Also, it is true that there is a cat that knows when people are about to die; and this gift could as easily belong to a young child as to a cat.
Read more stories, articles and poems by Betty Killebrew and other popular authors at: www.trovemgazine.com.