Throughout a lifetime, there are many events that seem to have no explanation, or at least an explanation from out current knowledge . These events and happenings occur in a variety of circumstances from personal or professional experiences . Such was the case many years ago when I worked in a psychiatric hospital.
In this particular hospital, and at this time in the treatment of mentally challenged individuals, there were several wards that worked with those who could not look after themselves in anyway at all. The doors to the ward were locked and patients were not able to leave unless escorted by at least one hospital staff more for their safety than the fact that they were dangerous.
I learned a lot about mental illness through my time there, but I also observed some unique happenings that could not be explained to me in any rational way except to say that they might be outside of our normal understanding of life events.
I had been assigned for several months to one of these wards where patients were helpless without the attentive care of staff. In one case, I spent a great deal of time with a gentleman who had been in this hospital for many years. He never had any visitors at all – no family or friends to visit him. He never spoke, or seemed to understand anything that was said to him, nor would he respond in anyway to a question asked. In this person’s history, it appeared that he had a very prominent career where his intelligence made him a very successful man. Unfortunately, his career was cut short and he ended up needing complete care.
One morning, I was attending to his needs all the while talking to him about what was happening in the local community. You see, I believe that conversation that is real is more important than no conversation – that it is important to treat everyone with respect – without conveying prejudice, or judgment. I was busy dressing him after his bath, putting his clothes on, and then helping him to a chair. Suddenly, totally unexpectedly, he turned directly to me and engaged in a spirited, knowledgeable and focused discussion on a specific local event that I had been talking to him about a few seconds before. This lively discussion lasted for no more than thirty seconds and then he abruptly stopped, gazed straight ahead no longer involved at any level. Despite my efforts to re-engage him in any response, he sat and looked straight ahead.
It Was Amazing
When he started to speak to me, I thought that I had made a break through – a break through that would turn the corner for him and eventually allow him to leave the hospital for good. I guess I was naïve to think this way, but I always hoped for the best for those I cared for.
In reflection, maybe it was a little miracle – maybe it was just something else explained through the vastness of the brain and how it works. I suppose his speech may have just been neurons connecting again for a short moment – I really think, though, that it was a miracle.
Acts of Kindness
Each of us has much to learn in life. A lot of life is unexplainable, but I hope that kindness to others is acknowledged even in some minor way – maybe his speaking was just a little thank you. Well, for me, I don’t care what it was; I was just very happy that I was there to witness his conversation. Maybe life is supposed to be like that – a little giving that means a lot to others. I have never forgotten this unusual event, and, to this day, I believe that giving of one’s humanity is better than the mere observation of life.