An Unexpected Connection

by PJ Rose
Wyoming, USA

It was a lovely Passover Seder at our little temple in Wyoming, with centerpieces on each table sporting seasonal flowers in glass vases. After dinner, as we were helping to clean up, my friend Brian scooped up a few of the floral arrangements, and motioned for me to do likewise.

Brian told me to follow him and we walked through a mild spring night to a nearby nursing home. It was quiet and dimly lit inside, with the residents apparently all snug in their beds.

We carried the flowers to the nursing station, where my friend asked the nurses to distribute them as they saw fit. Never ones to pass up on a ready opportunity, we were chatting up the pretty nurses when we heard a squeaking sound behind us.

Turning around, we saw — complete with lace handkerchief in her sleeve and seemingly straight out of central casting — a little old lady slowly wheeling herself our way. She was thin, wearing a blue dress, with stiff white hair, and tortoise-shell glasses with a beaded neck chain.

Finally reaching the nurses’ station, with an obvious effort she pushed down on the arms of her wheelchair until she raised herself high enough to place her face right up to one of the vases on the counter.

After a deep breath, followed by a contented sigh, she slowly lowered herself back into her chair and said, “Ah, lilies. My favorite.”

We watched her wheel herself down the hall toward her room for a moment before turning back to the nurses. To our stunned surprise, both of the young ladies were slack jawed and bug eyed, with astonished looks on their faces.

When they had regained their composure, one of them said that the woman in the wheelchair had not spoken aloud for more than a year, and was thought to have lost the ability to communicate!

Who could have guessed that such a random act of kindness instigated by my friend would result in a breakthrough for someone? Indeed, a person who had been assumed by the medical staff at the nursing home to have been “shut in” for a long time?

What had started as a small, kind thought by my friend made a huge difference in the life of someone who was thought to be beyond reach, as well as the lives of the other four people who witnessed a small miracle that April night.

Originally published as HeroicStories #835

5 thoughts on “An Unexpected Connection”

  1. While visiting an Elder Care Home with our Keeshond puppy who was certified as a Therapy Dog, he approached a lady sitting slumped in her wheelchair and laid his head on her knee. She slowly lifted her head and then her hand. She gently stroked his head and in a faint, rusty voice said “Pretty.” As we moved on, the Nurse attending whispered: “She hasn’t spoken or made an intentional movement for over a year.” That completely justified the weeks of training and practice, in one visit.

  2. I had no idea that lilies had a strong fragrance. But if this lady could smsell them from a distance, it may be what woke her up. Aromas and fragrances, as well as less attractive smells, are some of our earliest contacts with the world, and their associations preserve lifelong memories. I, too, hope the lilies were taken to herh room.


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