The Art of Listening
Ramona was our patient. She was in renal failure, a left leg amputee, had some dementia but, more importantly, she was a sister who had been separated from her sibling for quite some time. It was in an area nursing facility where Good Sam’s Hospice Aide, Mary Law, made a critical connection.
It was a typical morning with Ramona. Mary was talking with her in her bed, preparing her for her daily bath when Ramona bolted up, pointed toward the door, and with intensely asked, “Did you see her? Who was that?” She was almost climbing out of her bed. “Go get her,” Ramona vehemently requested. “My sister! I saw her go by!”
Mary settled Ramona and looked down the hall, but the lady was gone. Mary asked, “What is your sister’s name?” Her name was Barbara and Mary promised to check with the nurse’s station as Ramona prepared for her bath. As Mary explained the situation, the facility nurses said they were not aware of any sisters in the facility. However, they agreed to go get the “Barbara” they knew from Unit 1.
Obviously intrigued with the prospect, six facility staff walked “Barbara” toward Ramona’s room. As they approached, Mary moved out of the way, allowing Barbara to see Ramona. “Her expression was priceless,” explained Mary. “Her eyes got big as she exclaimed “Ramona!” Everyone there was thrilled and privileged to witness this reunion. “I would have chased her down the hall,” said Ramona, “but I couldn’t get out of bed quick enough!”
It was a sweet time as two sisters spent the next hour talking and catching up on the time lost. It had been years since they had last talked. Ramona told Mary that she thought she had seen her sister at the facility before, but no one would listen to her.
“That’s what it’s about. You have to listen,” explained Mary. “You may go down the wrong path a couple times, but sometimes you get it right.”
The following week would be Ramona’s last birthday. Needless to say, when Good Sam team arrived with cake, the celebration included Barbara — A very special birthday party that was made possible by someone who simply listened.
Mary Law has been a Hospice Aide at Good Sam for nine years.