I was working the 11-7 shift as a charge nurse in a nursing home. There was a patient named “Sam“. Sam had come to the home after a mugger had attacked him with a tire iron. The doctors had saved his life by removing the left side of his skull and part of his brain. Sam’s head looked like a basketball that was deflated on one side. Despite not really being able to take care of himself, he could read, watch TV, and engage in his favorite pastime, watching the young female nurses and aides. He wouldn’t do anything but put his arm around a girl’s shoulder to say ‘Thank You‘ when she picked up his dinner tray. That was it. So Sam became something of the nursing home mascot. But as it happens in this business, Sam died of a blood infection six months after I started there.
The night of his death, we were gathered around the desk for the report from Sandy, the 3-11 nurse, as she gave her report to me and three nurse’s aides. When Sandy came to Sam’s name, she said “Sam died at about 3:30 this after…”. Suddenly a call light came on. Everyone stared at the light board. The call was coming from Room 30. That room had been locked ever since the relatives had taken his belongings away. The call was coming from Sam’s empty, locked room.
We all went down the hall to see what this was about. We thought that another patient had probably gotten into the room and put on the call bell. Sam’s room was open, lights were on, call bell was pushed in ( old fashioned call light. Shape like a bell, you had to push the button in the center to call and turn it off by twisting the edge of the bell). Only one problem, no patient was up, the door was not forced, it was unlocked, all the staff were at the desk, the only one that had the key was the charge nurse and the door was locked when I made rounds not more then ten minutes before.
I mumbled something about loose wire. I twisted the call bell off, turned the room lights off, locked the door and went with the rest of the staff back to the Nurse’s Station. Sandy started the report again. She didn’t get more than 3 minutes into the report, when Sam’s call light came on again. We went down to find the room opened, lights on and call bell on, all patients in bed. I turned the call bell off, the lights off, and locked the room up again. Back to the desk. Report started again. The light came on again. By this time it was more nuisance than scary. So we decided to leave it on, continue report so that the other shift could leave.
After report, I went down to the room, turned off the call bell, replaced the old cord with a new call bell cord, turned off the room lights, and locked the door again. The bell stayed off but the signal on the board stayed on. We went down the longest hall- Sam’s hall- to start our work. As we passed Sam’s room the door was open but the lights were off. The Nurses aides felt a cold breeze up their skirts( remember Sam liked the ladies.) At that I went into the room to check if someone had opened a window. No window was open and no air conditioner was on in the room. I closed the door and locked the door again. And we continued. After we finished down that hall, we went past Sam’s room again. The door was still closed and locked. By the time we finished the 1st round it was 2 AM. Back at the desk, the call light in Sam’s room was off. We forgot about Sam.
We drank our, by now, cold coffee. I did my paper work and the aides exchanged small talk. At 3 AM, we started the second round down the long hall again. This time Sam’s door was open and the females felt an even colder breeze. I went into the room. It was like a vacuum as if the air had been sucked out. I opened the windows but no air could dispel the vacuum. I had had enough. I yelled, “Sam you’re dead! You spent enough time in this place. Get out of here!” I closed the windows, locked the door again, and joined the aides for rounds. I didn’t go in that room until around 6:00 AM. All four of us went for one last look. No vacuum, no breeze, sun shining through the window. Nothing to prove anything happened that morning. We didn’t want to tell the 7-3 shift and risk the whole day looking at ink blots, so we kept the occurrences to ourselves but this was only the beginning. We were not prepared for what was going to happen next.
The following night, I get a call at home from Sandy. She asked me if anything happened on 11-7 shift. I said “why?” Sandy stated this tale.
“Well when we were picking up the dinner trays we were one tray over. We passed out 26 trays and we picked up 27 trays.”
“Somebody miscounted.” I said.
“That may have happened. Only the 27th tray was outside Sam’s Room just as he had left it when he was alive…exactly as he left it.”
“Somebody is pulling a prank on you, Sandy”, I said.
“I don’t think so because when I stood up from taking the tray, I felt an arm around my shoulder just like Sam had put it. I was the only one down that hall.”
I then told her what had happened the previous morning. She said, “Well, it looks like we have ghost to add to the census.”
That wasn’t the end of the story. A week later another patient was admitted to Room 30. A retired university professor. One night her light came on. She had seen a man staring at her from outside her window. When I asked her what the man looked like, she said that he was not normal looking. The left side of his head was deflated like an old volleyball (she used to play volleyball a lot in her younger days). I told her that I would go around the building and see if I could see him. The police were called to look for a potential prowler. They found no one and no footprints outside the window; no grass disturbed. But I knew who it was. When I told the Nurse’s Aides, they knew who it was. Sam was back! Over the years every female patient that was in that room saw Sam staring at them through the window. No male patient would ever see him. For you see, Sam liked the girls.
I left the nursing home some years later so don’t know how long Sam stuck around. But these events were experienced and/or confirmed by various employees and patients. In my career working in nursing homes, reports like this are relatively common. I don’t know what to make of this, except that we just don’t know what happens after death and maybe some people just want to linger where they felt most comfortable. Sam did.
- Posted by Merlyn; Allnurses