Hold my hand, lady!” Ed exclaimed as he extended his hand out toward me. “Hold my hand!”
Ed appeared anxious—and I sensed he seemed worried about me. I was walking by his side as he was wheeling down the nursing home hall. I offered him my hand, and he grasped it eagerly while propelling the wheelchair with his free hand, and his feet. We glided down the hall.
“Let’s go to the highway,” Ed commanded.
His words were clear. Unusually coherent. Ed normally spoke incoherently and non-sensical. His medical records revealed his diagnoses of Dementia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Ed continued moving forward, holding my hand.
I realized that Ed was experiencing a flashback of his service in the Vietnam War. Ed had been a prisoner of war, and was kept in captivity for several months. For Ed, the Vietnam War was not just a bad memory, it had become a living nightmare, a dreadful time that Ed relived in his mind over and over, a tormenting past that continued into his present—as if he was the captive of an evil time machine.
I felt Ed’s warm and firm hand. My gaze fixed upon him, trying to place meaning to his vivid gestures and expressions.
My heart pounded as I started to see beyond the patient with Dementia and PTSD. I started to see the courageous man Ed had been, and continued to be, facing obstacles and dangers.
I saw a gentleman—Ed didn’t call me “you” or “woman,” he called me “lady” even though I may have been a stranger to him. I saw a compassionate man, trying to “save me” by taking me to a safe place—the highway.
And most importantly, I saw Ed as a proud American soldier, serving our country with dignity and grit.
Today, as we celebrate the Fourth of July, our glorious Independence
Day, fond memories of Ed flood my mind. Ed was the first nursing home
resident who first inspired me to write stories of the Home Sweet
Nursing Home. After sharing those amazing minutes in Ed’s world, I
realized I should share with others these heartfelt experiences.
Ed, a dignified veteran of the Vietnam War, was my hero that day, and has been since then.
This blog is a tribute to Ed, for he extended his hand to me, and lifted