After returning to work from spell of illness and injuries I noticed my friend Erma wasn’t sitting in the common area like she has every day for the last 5 years. Her name wasn’t really Erma, I just called her that by accident one day after mixing her name up with Herman. She was hard to get to know. She was like myself, not talkative but aware. Occasionally I would sit in the chair next to her and watch the world go by. She knew everyone’s routine, when they left, when they came back on what days they had appointments, who’s cab was who’s, etc. I even found myself asking her if she’d seen someone I was looking for. That was the extent of our conversations for a few years. Her facial expression never changed I noticed. Slowly we began to talk and she started opening up to me. Not a lot just basic things like her daughter and sister. One day I said something about myself, I did something foolish and she laughed. That was the funniest laugh I ever heard and one I felt I worked too hard to get. From then on I tried to make her laugh every day. It didn’t always work but it was worth the effort. The chairs we sat in were sliders, I didn’t like them because my phone would go under the wooden armrest and I’d get stuck in the chair. She got a kick out of that. Erma would slightly go back and forth and I would grab the back of the chair to stop it, her body moved forward but the chair didn’t. Once in a while she’d laugh at that, or I would bump her chair with a cart. Other times I would walk at her and hold something like I was about to hand it to her then pull it away and say, “SIKE”. This earned me the name “Joker”. Not “The Joker” or “A Joker”, just Joker like in Batman. And that was my name to her from then on. Then around last Christmas she was dressed in her winter coat. She sat there for several hours and when I finally had a chance I asked if she was cold and if I should turn the heat up. She said she missed her cab because she couldn’t stand up. I noticed she only had one arm in her coat also. Every morning I made it a point to see if she had her coat. I would linger around the common area and if a cab pulled up I’d ask if it was for her. I started helping her up and putting her coat on then walking her out the security doors where the cab drivers usually took over.
My last illness was pneumonia, which I thought was a cold (and it was too late to mention in my other post). When I returned to work Erma wasn’t sitting in her spot. Twice the first week I was back I saw her going into her room and the door shutting. After I thought about it, it wasn’t really her but the colors of her, like her white tennis shoes, blue pants and maroon walker. It wasn’t like her to stay in her room so I asked the busy bodies, who do nothing but squawk BS all day every day, if they said something to her. They said she had died the week before from pneumonia in the hospital. After working with the family to remove her belongings we started get her unit ready to put on the market. The painters came in, the maintenance was done and the cleaners did their job. I did a final walk through just to check on things. I found this card in the back of the kitchen drawer. R.I.P Erma.
I thought I had posted this before but couldn’t find it in my history. I’ve always had this vision of a man, helpless or dying in a field. He can hear the traffic going by and voices from the buildings across the street. He might have been beaten and dump there. No one can hear him yelling for help. I picture him in a white wool suit. This was around the late 1940’s maybe early 50’s. While I was on Facebook I joined the Columbus, Ohio history group. A photo they posted is exactly the vision I’ve seen with this man. The color of the sky, the cars, everything is exact. The red X is where this man laid only he’s hidden by tall grass and weeds as seen on the other side of the road.
As I mentioned before I work with the elderly. It’s hard not to get close to them no matter how thick of a wall you’ve built. You get close enough you can tell who they are just by their sounds and odors. I can tell who’s close by without ever seeing them. That’s until they yell my name. This never stops, it’s like the “All-Mike Choir” and it’s nonstop. By the time I’m ready to go home I hate my name. Depending on their healthcare coverage some get aides and assistants to help them with their daily needs. Some get or want very little so they come to me.
The manager says I’ll get use to them passing away, but I haven’t yet. Since the first of the year two of my friends are gone. One day they’re perfectly healthy and happy then they’re gone. I’m cold to it but I’ll never get use to it. I’m typically alone through out the day taking care of running the building and making 50 people happy. Happy as in being quiet for a few days so I can get other things done. Early morning and mid-afternoon are the times when the building comes alive. While the living residents are still asleep, or resting or what ever they do, my friends come out. The building gets so quiet you hear yourself breathing, but that’s when Mr. Brown will clear his throat. Or Ms. Piper comes down the hall pushing her walker with the worn out skids on the carpet. Nellie will sing off in the distance. Then there’s the smell of incense Nicki used to cover the odor of the cigarettes they’re not allowed to be smoking. These are just a few of my friends who’ve died several years ago but never really left.
Five degrees, several inches of dry snow, wind, and sun. That’s today. I like cold winter days. Sunny ones especially. I didn’t dress warm to go to work today, but while I stared out the windows all I wanted to do was be outside. To me the building is warm but to the elderly its never hot enough. This keeps them in their rooms and keeps my sanity in check. The quiet afternoon in the building was a perfect time to watch outside. Maybe catch the deer or a coyote while I spent a moment staring out the long row of paneled glass. While checking my email a few swirls of dry snow caught my attention long enough to lose my place I had read. I check Facebook then over to Reddit. Once again a larger swirl of snow caught my attention. It seemed it was whirling around a figure. I pulled my glasses up to see farther and to focus. It was a figure. It resembled an inverted shadow person. The glistening outline was obviously facing me. It was a female shape but no real detail. I went back and got my coat. Now I have to go out. The back door was closer so I exited through the back making my way around to the front to greet my new visitor. This is a long cold walk. The sun was in front of the building and the sharp wind was coming at me quick through the forest. Still struggling to get both my coats on and the hoodies pocketed inside each other, there walking beside me was the iridescent figure. Seemingly cold herself, she wouldn’t look up while I tried to grasp who or what I was looking at walking beside me. I got my hoodie’s situated, my gloves on and coats zipped. The apparition wasn’t talkative but seemed to just enjoy the company as I did. My little slip on the ice jolted my body. The words, spoken as soft as the sharp cold breeze filling the air, “be careful”, came from beside me. My first thought was to wonder what would happen if I had slipped and fell. Would she help me up? Laugh? Even though the swirling figure was beside me I kept walking towards the front of the building where I first saw the her. The closer we got to the spot she originated the quieter it got. The wind slowed to a few dying gusts. The 3:45 pm winter sun shining hard into my eyes, there is where she said “good-bye”…
Twice in the last 24 hours my mom has communicated to me to visit my dad for Christmas this year. There’s two things stopping that; I don’t celebrate Christmas and he made it clear for me not to contact him.
Just as I sat down to write this there was movement across the upstairs hall and stopped at the top of the steps. The air is heavy in here now and I’m unsure who’s visiting. Sometimes you can feel when something’s about to happen.
Around 4:00 am I woke up with the feeling someone was in the room with me. The TV still on, it lit up the room as I cautiously rolled over to see if any one was there. No one. I was awake and turned the TV off thinking I was going to get up for the day. Slowly I fell back to sleep. It seemed like only a few minutes had passed when a loud ominous scream tore through the silence. I shot up in bed, the scream is still in the air, almost in my face I could feel the vibrations from the sound. As I sat up a shadowing figure of a smoke-like cloud, almost like cigarette smoke, moved out into the hall and dissipated. The hall, lit up from the light on my drawing table, seemed unfazed by what just happened. Sitting up, I listened. I listened so hard I could hear my heart beating. Nothing but the fan downstairs. It took a few moments to gather myself. I got up and walked through the house. Nothing was out of place.
I think this started last night when I was ignoring the energy around me like I’ve done the last few months. Luckily I was drawing in pencil. I could hear the background sounding off. They were getting unusually loud when the table was bumped hard enough to jerk my pencil across the paper. “GAWDAMMIT!” I said and the activity went quiet.
My manager has taken a leave of absence from work, FMLA. It’s been a few weeks and I thought I would text her to see how she was doing. It’s normal for her to not answer me, most of my texts are just statements that don’t need answered or just an emoji. This was about 3:00pm Friday afternoon. At 5:30pm her ringtone I have set just for her on my phone goes off. When I answered it was silent. A strange silence like the phone was being covered but I heard a faint undecipherable whisper. I hung up and called her right back but I got the recording saying “the number you have dialed is either turned off or out of the service area”.
Just a few minutes ago her husband called me. He told me she had been in surgery and is in ICU this morning for blood clots in her lungs. He was able to get her belongings out the hospital lock up where they had been stored since Thursday evening and saw I had called her number. We talked for a few minutes to get caught up. But who called my number?