Wednesday, 4 September 2019

"Fingers Running Through your Hair"



She was one of four patients I was responsible for.
A tiny bird of a woman in her nineties.
Her room was dimmed and very peaceful and she allowed me to feed her a minuscule portion of soup with a teaspoon.
Inbetween tastes, we spoke briefly.
She taught me to pronounce her name which was very Welsh and very difficult to say.
I told her it was only my second shift at the hospice.
I made her comfortable and asked if I could brush her thick grey hair which had feathered out against her pillow.
She nodded weakly her consent.
The soft plastic teeth of her pink hairbrush glided gently against her scalp and at every brush she half closed her eyes in brief bursts of pleasure.
" I too love having my hair brushed, I always have from when I was a little boy " I admitted and she nodded again
She fell asleep within a minute or two.

I sat quietly for a while, the hairbrush still in my hand.
I was remembering a secret, shared a long time ago.
A conversation between my husband and I.
One of those private talks, you have with your next of kin
At quiet times, like that moment in that hospice side room

" If you were ever dying on intensive care" he told me " I will sit by your bed and run my fingers through your hair"

I felt I was going to weep, but I didn't.
The old lady sighed in her sleep.
And I silently put her hairbrush away and slipped away from the room


94 comments:

  1. I hope a loved one is with you to do just that if/when the time comes, John. And that you still have hair!

    That was a lovely thing to do for the patient. You must be the perfect hospice nurse. xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. You did well. Having hair brushed is bliss....you gave a priceless gift.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The post was all about me and not really about my nursing xx

      Delete
    2. Wrong, John! It was about you being a caring, gentle nurse tending to an old soul who is waiting to transition!
      You wrote it so beautifully it caused my eyes to water! ❤😊

      Delete
  3. This is the most beautiful piece of writing I have read in such a long, long time. You are very suited to your chosen career. Would that there were many more such sensitive people in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Broken promises cut deeply. Time helps.

    ReplyDelete
  5. i just about did weep when I read your last few lines. He must have loved you at some point in time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sending a hug and a ruffle of your wig x

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hope you find someone who loves and cherishes you again John x

    ReplyDelete
  8. Replies
    1. I'm not sad today...off to Chester shortly to meet blog reader Mark and his husband for lunch

      Delete
  9. You're a good, gentle man, and your words and actions speak volumes.

    ReplyDelete
  10. beaming you massive hugs John.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Lovely, just lovely ♥️

    ReplyDelete
  12. Aww John thats lovely. X

    ReplyDelete
  13. John - you have made me weep. I still miss my farmer every single day - and what I miss is having his arms round me. They were good, strong farmer's arms and a gentle hug cured almost anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you do pat.... he was lucky to have you too

      Delete
  14. Beautifully written, have a great day,

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have moments like that and then move on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. I am off to Chester for lunch with a friend and his hubby

      Delete
    2. I've got the builder here. X

      Delete
    3. A tall, dark and handsome one

      Delete
  16. This was beautiful. I am misty eyed after reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This hospice job feels like such a good fit for you. I'm glad you can have these memories now without feeling upended by them. How far you've come!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous11:39 am

    What a special moment for you
    Emma

    ReplyDelete
  19. It seems you are in the perfect job.
    I find it super relaxing if someone plays with my hair. I like touching men’s hair. Especially when we’re cuddling. It feels super intimate.
    And you really loved him, huh? One day it won’t hurt anymore, dearheart.

    XoXo

    ReplyDelete
  20. And that is a story of healing. I'm happy for you

    ReplyDelete
  21. Marilyn Westphal1:07 pm

    I can read the feelings in your words. Personally I can hardly stand anyone handling my hair, let along brushing it. Odd peoples different reactions.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think you have found the job you were meant to do, John.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You have touched my heart today.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You are a lovely man, John Grey. Home...sorted. Job...sorted. Past...reconciled...or almost there.Your ideal partner around the corner - all the bloggers are willing it for you.

    ReplyDelete
  25. When my beloved aunt was dying in hospital I visited for several days and spent time with her after caring for my dogs.One day I got lost in the hospital and took the wrong lifts.This was meant to be,as my cousins,her 2 sons were able to get to her before me and just before she passed on.I sat with her and brushed her hair,she had only just died and warm and facing the window with the sun shining through.When I returned home there was a butterfly in my sitting room window and it was November x

    ReplyDelete
  26. For heaven's sake John; you'll have us all in tears!

    ReplyDelete
  27. John, thank you for sharing this very personal memory. May someone be there with you when you need it the most.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I love your posts because they remind us so often of the importance of kindness and humour in ordinary life.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Barbara Anne3:14 pm

    How sweet in every way and what a gift to that little woman.

    When my mother had gone a long way down the slippery slope of Alzheimer's and had stopped speaking, once when I gently rubbed lotion on her hands and arms, she smiled and said "That feels good." A precious moment.

    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Yes, playing with/brushing/combing a loved one's hair is such a uniquely beautiful way to make a 'consoling connection' with the person. You can almost feel the contentment it brings to them.

    A regret I have regarding my mother was that when she was starting on the downward slide (dying in 2005) I promised myself that I must do it for her as a kind of parting gift - several times if I could. Don't know exactly why but I never did it even once, and that particular neglect has been a sharp regret ever since.

    ReplyDelete
  31. You're a lovely man John and I wish you well. I don't usually comment however I must admit it made me feel a little uncomfortable that you are broadcasting events about someone who is a present patient in your care. You didn't identify the patient and I assume didn't breach patient confidentially but even so there are lines which I believe should be adhered to.
    A hospice is a safe and somewhat sacred place and I don't think I would want my loved one spoken about out of the hospice by the staff, in whatever context. Just my opinion and not a criticism but perhaps others feel the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dont think i breached confidentiality. If you do i am happy to pull the blog entry in its entirety

      Delete
    2. I'm struggling to find the right words, but I don't think this post is inappropriate. It is a story of love and regret. Your blog is full of very intimate moments, both yours and your readers and friends. A hospice is certainly sacred and there will be many stories to tell, always with respect and perhaps sometimes with your inimitable humour. Jocelyn

      Delete
    3. Barbara Anne8:36 pm

      As a registered nurse, I say that John stayed well within the bounds of patient confidentiality in today's post. No personal identifying information is there at all.

      Delete
    4. It only takes 1 member of staff,you are working with to complain you are talking about patients on social media identified or not to report it to nmc , or 1 family member to read your blog and identify the individual. Be careful!.

      Delete
    5. I agree Jane. It's a beautiful story about a delicate moment, but I do think it should be kept private.

      Delete
    6. Even regarding Chris. It was something special between you two.

      Delete
    7. Why ? It's passed.... it will never happen

      Delete
  32. Beautiful. You're a good man in the right job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jan , but this entry was more about an old promise than about my nursing xx

      Delete
    2. I know, but I was too choked up about the old promise to comment.

      Delete
  33. My sister rubbed my mothers feet with lotion. She loved it and I thought it was a beautiful gift of the heart.

    ReplyDelete
  34. i think you will still find someone to run their fingers through your hair. i just hope it happens while you still have some left!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Better to have a good memory than a bad one even if it is bittersweet. I never had "someone to watch over me" re a previous post. No one ever loving brushed my hair but you bet I have sweet memories of brushing my daughter's fine blonde/ white hair. I would whisper "your hair is like spun gold". No idea if she remembers but I put it out there so she would have sweet memories.

    ReplyDelete
  36. What a lovely few moments. Thank you for sharing the magic with us.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thanks for sharing John
    You brought a tear to my eye. you write so beautifully xx

    ReplyDelete
  38. My spouse has promised to play me the last episode of MASH if and when I am on my deathbed... I have never watched it. He will also probably play his guitar for me. I will just gently stroke him lightly on any available skin and sit in a way that allows him a peek up my skirt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your selflessness towards your spouse is something to admire. Your fanny humour even more so.

      Sour old gits such as I are rarely moved, but you touched my withered heart.

      Delete
    2. That all sounds a lovely way to go. x

      Delete
  39. Memories are bitter sweet. I cry when I think of some. It's okay John to weep.

    ReplyDelete
  40. A promise forgotten, not made with intent.

    I am so sorry you are still so hurt, John.

    ReplyDelete
  41. An endearing human story - well told too.

    ReplyDelete
  42. This reads like a poem. Thanks, John. x0 N2

    ReplyDelete
  43. Janet7:18 pm

    You are such a nice man John.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Good evening John usually I read your blog on the bus on the way home from work, I had to put my head quite down not to show the tires , thank you you for sharing it with us 🌸

    ReplyDelete
  45. Ever the healer and full of compassion. I do not think confidentiality was breached in any way shape or form. Where do you think that scripts for plays etc. come from. From real experience in real life. No names have been mentioned no details shared apart from a beautiful moment between a nurse and his patient. Sharing the joy and the moment in a day is a very special thing and obviously soothed the old lady and helped her sleep and thus giving her pleasure and something in the day that was of value apart from waiting for this and for that. Part of the work in the Hospice is helping those patients to live a day at a time under difficult circumstances. The intent is pure. No lines have been crossed. Just regret at a promise that was made to the writer personally and which he feels sad about. Even the carers need someone to take care of them too. Beautiful John and there will be someone there for you x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope there will be someone there...we all wish for that don't we?

      Delete
  46. Giving comfort like that is something we sadly rarely hear about in nursing now. Sadly we only hear about bad carers. Never the good ones like us. Good old fashioned nurses who care. Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This blog entry wasn't about nursing
      It was about hair

      Delete
  47. I read this hours ago. It hit me and I couldn't comment. I still don't have any words to say except that I hear you. I read this. I felt it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I felt it , in that room,
      The memory of a promise.....that will, sadly not be carried out

      Delete
  48. I actually don't like people touching my head John...but you have made me rethink it. beautifully written as always x

    ReplyDelete
  49. A bittersweet memory, and as always, so well related.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I don't think I shall have any hair to brush when my time comes. It's a good thing I don't like people touching my head. I guess don't like people touching me at all. A decent handshake is alright! I have told my children to toss me and my wheelchair off a cliff if I get completely gaga. Right now they still refuse to do so, but we'll see when the time comes. Enjoy your time with your friends.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Your post went where I wasn't expecting. I audibly sighed when getting to the end.

    Thank you for sharing this bit of yourself. x

    ReplyDelete
  52. A wonderful memory, John, and a wonderful touch you gave to that lady.

    ReplyDelete
  53. What a poignant story John you tell it so well, a small gesture a moment shared yes memories can reappear at any given moment good on you for working your way through it, so much to look forward to.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I'm sure she really enjoyed your thoughtful gesture of brushing her hair. When I was young my father used to brush my hair very roughly, which may explain why I don't get any particular pleasure out of having my hair brushed.

    ReplyDelete
  55. John, you will always have someone (many someones) who will be glad to brush your hair. I was going to say “unlike that dirtbag”, but I controlled myself. Aren’t you grateful?

    ReplyDelete

I love all comments Except abusive ones from arseholes