Discretely: True Story

I have always been amused by some people’s common use of the expression “true story” at the beginning or at the end of their recounting of an anecdote. I could not help but wonder if, absent this disclaimer, all the other stories they told were not true. With time, I figured that its use was intended to put emphasis to a particularly special or unusual occurrence. If I may, such is the case today.

At the end of each shift, our caregivers are required to fill a care log with information about the activities of daily living they assisted with that day, as well as notes on the condition of their client. On this particular occasion Miss B’s Care Notes, as this log is internally referred to, included a succinct, elegant, and respectfully precise account of her dear client’s passing right before sunrise on a recent summer day.

Dutifully listed on her last log, along with the regular activities completed by Miss B during the last hours with her client, were the names of songs she sang to her, with her, that fateful morning. Titles like I will Rise Up, I Was Born By the River, or I’m Coming Up Lord were recorded by Miss B with the same careful calligraphy that so purely expressed her own sorrow when she also wrote “she will be missed” on the same piece of paper.

Miss B is a big woman with the touch and the devotion of a little girl. And boy can she sing. For years she led the choir of the Greater Bibleway Church in Waco where she started singing when she was 5. She kept on singing throughout her life. She sang in Korea, in Germany, and in Russia while accompanying her husband on his Army duties in those countries and later she kept on singing in half a dozen States when stationed in the US.

Now, Miss B sings primarily to herself and mainly spirituals and gospel tunes. As a caregiver, she carries her beautiful voice and her big heart to all her assignments. Her clients are always glad to acknowledge both as the very instruments with which she invariably achieves a unique and comforting connection with those she cares for. I often try to imagine Miss B at work, bringing her imposing figure and resonance to engage with the fragile whisper of “her ladies” as if jointly crafting their own common language each time.

When Claudia and I went to Miss B’s house to see how she was getting by after the loss of a lady we knew was special to her, she gleamingly reported with the conviction of having had all her efforts more than sufficiently rewarded that “the day before, she did tell me that she loved me”. True story.

The Discretely column by Eduardo Berdegué is published monthly in newspapers throughout the Heart of Texas region.

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