Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chattering Irma and the Ghost of Mr. H.

0610 hrs -- Irma forgot to call the hospice when her husband died, but she did think to call just about everyone else in town that drives around with flashing lights and sirens. That's okay, it happens. It always gets itself sorted out when I get to the home.

After all the emergency personnel had left the house, one visitor remained... a volunteer, that had been called in by the paramedics to help with the distraught widow. Susan, the young, sweet-faced, nursing student was one of our city's volunteers that sit with victims and families after a traumatic event. It's a wonderful program with nothing less than saints who sign up to take the training and then go forth into horrible, gut-wrenching situations.

Although Mrs. H. was no longer overtly distraught, Susan decided to stay for the duration. Something for which I was exceedingly grateful, because it didn't take but a moment for me to realize that something was a bit "off" about Mrs. H. The poor woman wouldn't, or more likely couldn't, stop talking.The chattering was ceaseless and exhausting. Thankfully, Susan's presence added an extra pair of sympathetic eyes and ears to keep focused on the grieving widow.

Irma's conversation was largely centered on friends, neighbors and her husband. Her rambling was often hard to follow and frankly, tested one's patience. However, when she began to describe events leading up to finding her dead husband, my ears pricked up considerably:

"I was sleeping in the other bedroom and I swear, I heard Gordon say 'Goodbye!', real loud. I mean, it actually woke me up! I ran into his room and found him dead."

Well, that got my attention... Mr. H. had been deeply comatose for several days!

Irma then quickly switched her subject to the various character flaws and idiosyncrasies of her husband. As the three of us sat at the kitchen table, Mrs. H. went through the lengthy list of Gordon's faults, including anecdotal evidence to back up her conclusions. Suddenly, the patio blinds to my right, gave a "snap", swung wildly and then settled.

Susan and I looked at each other in amazement and immediately returned our attention to the closed, patio door and blinds. The blinds took one more big swing and then became quiet. Irma, with her back to the door, just kept on chattering... until she noticed that neither Susan nor I were paying attention to her:

"Well, what on earth would make that happen?", she asked.

"I don't think Gordon likes you talking about him, Irma", I answer. Susan nodded her head in agreement. Without so much as a tiny acknowledgment of the freakiness of what just happened, Mrs. H. began talking about the family friend with the low IQ.

I'd never before experienced "the unexplained" while attending the death of a patient. I must say... it was very cool.


Gail Rae said...

Neither have I, including at my Mom's death. In non-"extinction" mode, here, I have always wanted to, always wish I had, and wished something unexplained had happened at my Mom's death. I appreciate that something unexplained happened a few weeks later, but, you know, that's weeks later and, by that time, I was in a state where ANYTHING could have happened and I might have been obliged to attribute it to the fantastic.
I remember, one of the first thoughts I had after Mom died was that I wished she and I had made some sort of prior agreement about signs, etc. I thought about that before her death, too, but could never bring myself to ask her because of Mr. & Mrs. Houdini's experience, and I didn't want to do any prepping beforehand.
This one is cool, though, especially since I consider this trustworthy heresay.
Thanks for writing about it!
Plus, you know, I can't help but wonder if Irma was a chatterer before Mr. H's death and Mr. H wasn't so much concerned about her chattering about him, but saying, "Irma, Jesus, is there NOTHING that can keep you from yakking?!?"

dethmama said...

@ Gail... Ha! Yeah, maybe he was trying to just get her to shut up. Didn't work, though.

Peter said...

Poor Mr. H. He couldn't get out of there quick enough, could he? Now, as for the blinds, it takes me back to Ward 14 when someone was about to kick the bucket. The ceiling lights would swing too and fro to warn us of the impending doom, only stopping when the unfortunate one passed on.

Take Care,

Jessica Knapp said...

Isn't is weird when something happens like that that you just can't explain away.

Great story. My favorite part is that, without your reaction, Irma wouldn't have even noticed.

deafeningchameleon said...

Talk about going out with a bang, er thump.