Tommy: My Special Friend

Driving to work one day I was thinking to myself, "oh well another day, another dollar, going to work with the old folks." Reporting to my place of employment for my usual 3-11 shift when I stepped off the elevator, I was greeted by a new resident who was sitting in a wheelchair by the door. Nurses General Nursing Article


Tommy: My Special Friend

He was darling with his white hair, big dimples, infectious smile, and a voice wispy and cheerful. Looking over at me he said, "Hi my sweetheart, my darling, my honey I love you."

Wow, what a great way to start my eight-hour shift.

Since he was totally irresistible we bonded instantly. My heart swelled with almost instantaneous affection for him. Grinning to my self all I could do was muse "all my boyfriends are over eighty."

Tommy suffered from Dementia so had one bad fault a "water fetish" which got him into trouble quite often. This required staff members to watch him closely when he was allowed to wander about on the ward.

He would slip away, turn on the water in the sink, place paper towels, and soon it was evident what he had been up to as the water poured out into the hallway. Sometimes it would be the toilet with the same problem it was stuffed to the very top with paper towels causing it to overflow leaving a water trail clear out to the nurses' station.

Many an afternoon, I would step off the elevator to find him sitting in a gerichair looking chagrinned from some scolding he had received for this behavior on the previous shift.

Often during report at the beginning of my shift, the other nurses would tease me "Your boyfriend Tommy was very bad today."

Upon completion of the report, I would release him into my custody telling him there was a job requiring his professional services to be my bodyguard for the evening. First, he would walk over to the mirror by the nurses' station to inspect his stature, sucking in his belly, adjusting his belt buckle, and puffing out his chest. Taking a minute to straighten his make-believe necktie, he would then give a salute to the imaginary person in the mirror.

Only after he felt that everything was in place would he turn around, walk over to me and take a hold of the back of my elbow. Making our walking rounds through the ward he would continuously carry himself with an air of professional confidence.

After returning to the nurses' station, he would be reassigned to guard the dining room so I could resume doing my nursing duties and complete my med pass. After the evening meal, he was convinced that he had put in a full eight hour day so would be agreeable to go back to his room to go to bed.

During his younger years, his career had involved being a Detective for the New York City Police Department Homicide Division for a time span of over forty years. Ironic even with his Dementia diagnosis he never forgot this portion of his lifelong experiences, and it gave him purpose each day doing what he loved.

One fateful day after a couple of years had passed of enjoying my daily interaction with Tommy, I was told upon entering my place of employment that the D.O.N. wanted to see me right away in her office. Doing a quick run down in my mind covering all the events that had transpired the night before, there was no indication that there was any kind of trouble.

My special friend had gone to be with the angels that day.

Everyone was aware of how much I loved him and so they were being compassionate by informing me in the privacy of the nursing office instead of letting me get off the elevator only to see the ominous empty gerichair.

This special friend will remain etched in my heart for all time.

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6 Posts

Specializes in Urology (at present)L&D, family practice.

Tommy was blessed to have a nurse like you care for him, and truly care.


4 Articles; 846 Posts

Specializes in Med surg, Critical Care, LTC.

God bless you for giving Tommy a purpose, and thinking outside the box! Bravo! Very touching story.


41 Posts

That was true chicken soup for the soul......what a lucky man.

Thank you for sharing this story. God Bless


17 Posts

Thanks. That was great. I also was a charge Nurse in a 5 floor Geriatric hospital when I was a young RN. I am now retired,and your story brought back many nice memories.. :nurse::redbeathe


161 Posts

Thank you for being so kind to Tommy! It is my passion to be involved with elderly patients after I become licensed. My mom worked in a nursing home when I was a child and I spent a lot of time there. Even as a child I remember being disgusted with the fact that most of the patients' families NEVER came to see them, and a lot of the staff didn't really respect them. Tommy was already with an angel when he was with you!

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