How Had She Known?


105182105411111CDPby Neva Bodin

She was destined to remain a vivid memory for many reasons, but one memory was etched on my mind with indelible ink.

Each line on her face exemplified a challenge met and dealt with during her 86 years, like rivulets in a dry stream bed, the substance creating them gone now, their mark still there none-the-less. Obviously, there had been many challenges.

winter window jpeg.Confined to her wheelchair throne, she now watched seasons roll by, framed by a four-foot by four-foot window, from the safety of her room in the nursing home. She spent much time looking out that window and humming old spirituals to herself. From this throne, she ruled the shrinking boundaries of her world with finesse.Senior woman with nurse

This finesse sometimes made nursing aides cry. She sometimes grumbled at the nurses. Yet, the gentleness of her soul shone through. The overcompensation for losing control of her physical capabilities was understandable.

Warned I’d get a yell after giving her a regular morning injection, I quickly gave her a kiss before a yell could erupt. It became our routine, a shot and a kiss each morning I worked. We grew close.

One morning I came to work to learn this wizened lady had made a request of staff the afternoon before.

“Call my son,” she’d said. “I want him to come see me. I’m going to die tomorrow.”

A simple request with an impact. But who could believe her? Nothing about her had changed, neither physically or mentally as far as staff could see.

The staff had called, but the message had to be routed through the son’s neighbor. And had an urgency been implied? Or the reason?

The afternoon following the request, shortly after the noon meal, this lady I’d grown fond of put her call light on. I walked into the room to find her in her usual place, looking out her window.

“He didn’t come, I wonder why he didn’t come,” she mused. “I want to lie down.”

An after dinner nap wasn’t unusual. But I had a disquieting feeling as I assisted her to lie down. After I returned to my nursing station, I remarked to a co-worker, “I think we better keep an eye on her. I think I’ll go take her blood pressure.” I grabbed the equipment and headed back to the lady’s room.

As I walked into her room, I heard a long, deep breath, a sound between a gasp and a sigh. Her last.

Twenty minutes later, her son arrived.

How had she known?


14 thoughts on “How Had She Known?

  1. How ofter that happens, more than most people realize. Still what a wonderful memory, saddened by loss. Thank you for sharing Doris


  2. Neva, this post brought tears to my eyes. I honestly don’t know how they know, but I’ve seen it happen before. In a strange way, this brings me a sense of comfort, because I know it’s not the end but a new beginning. No more wheelchair, her soul is free. Thank you for this post. It made my day.


  3. Thanks Sherry. I really appreciate your comments. She was an interesting lady and so many things stuck in my memory about her. That happened more than 30 years ago but it’s still fresh for me. And yes, she is singing her hymns with renewed vigor I’m sure.


  4. You made me become get the sniffles. Got to be a cold, right? Yes, definitely a cold. Couldn’t be anything else. Yes, a cold. You brought memories crashing into consciousness. Back in 1987, my mom called to tell me my Grandpa Frog was dying. I immediately bought a plane ticket and flew out the next day to the Akron-Canton Airport. They’d told grandpa that I was on the way. When I slowly made my way through the plane’s center aisle and down the tunnel to the concourse gate, I was met by my mom and Uncle Denny. They said they had just gotten a call that grandpa had died, probably no more than 10 minutes earlier as I exited the plane. Here’s something that’s weird but true: Later on when I was back in my Central Florida home, I had an eerie dream … I was walking up the stairs of my grandparents home on Fourth Street in Rittman, Ohio, to the second-floor bedrooms and looked up to see my grandpa waiting for me at the end of the stairs. When I reached him, he hugged me — and grandpa was never a hugger. Yet that hug was so real I swore I felt it … and it woke me up. I’ve always felt that God allowed him to say goodbye to me.


    1. I would believe you. Thanks for sharing that story, and letting me know about your “cold.” The story always moves me when I think about it. And I have heard so many stories about ways people may be comforted by souls already gone, I think your story is very plausible. I believe there is a spiritual world as well as our physical world and I think perhaps the curtain separating the two sometimes parts or becomes translucent. So many mysteries…


  5. Neva, this is so lovely and sad, it does happen more than you think. Today was my brother and sister-in-law’s anniversary. So of course he is on my mind. He died in my house surrounded by relatives. I held his hand as he breathed in and never out again. But I’m glad we had a cookout two days before his death where 70 people showed up. It was a good day for him. We had church at our house that morning while people were arriving and he sang as loud as he could and said Amen to the sermon.

    Also as Mike was talking my Grandma visited me one time. After I had both of my children, I so wished my Grandma was there to see them. She appeared to me, over the mirror in my bedroom, smiling and shaking her head yes, as if to say, I see them. Cher’ley


  6. Very poignant story, Neva. As you may remember, Greg was able to be with his father when he died in April; he said it was an amazing, blessed experience. Thank you for sharing this story and reminding us all that life is temporary.


  7. What a beautiful post Neva. It was very touching and a little sad. I think people have a sixth sense when they know their time is near. How sweet that you took the time to love this woman and give her last days the joy she needed. I feel sorry for the son. He may spend the rest of his life feeling guilty and grieving for a mother he was never able to say good-bye to.


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