I had several incidents happen while working at Winyah Nursing Center and admittedly, some were borderline upsetting. I worked with a few people who had been employees there for about 20 years at the time. On one particular night, I turned to them three times for answers to the ghostly hauntings that were taking place around me.
My two assistants, Anne and Geralene, called me to the Thompson/Myer room. “She’s upset and we’re hoping you can calm her down,” Anne explained of Mrs. Thompson as I came in.
“She says some woman was sitting here for a while and then got up and took her walker and went into the bathroom. I checked, but I don’t see anyone in there.”
Geralene added, “I see the walker, but nobody’s there.”
Mrs. Myers, who was usually way out in left field, pulled back the curtain and said, “She sat here in this here chair for a long time. I talked to her but she was rude!”
“How was she rude, Flo?” I asked, calling her by her name.
“She wouldn’t talk to me at all! I tried to be polite, offered her some water and she just took Miss Lady’s walker over there and shuffled off to the bathroom like she owns it!”
“What did she look like?” I asked both ladies.
Mrs. Myers answered first, “She had white hair with a ball on top of her head. And she was not a nice lady; she took Miss Lady‘s walker!”
Mrs. Thompson was somewhat more oriented than her roommate, and a little more hesitant. “She had on a blue nightgown and she walked stooped over.”
“Michelle, can I see you out in the hall, please?” It was Anne, one of the 20 year employees.
I stepped out into the hallway. Obviously, it was privacy Anne wanted. “What is it?” I asked as I closed the door behind me.
“I think it was a ghost. That description is so very familiar but I just cannot remember the woman’s name. Go ask Glenda, I bet she’ll know.”
Glenda had also been there working for about 20 years. She was the nurse on Station 1. Anne came along with me as curiosity got the best of her about who it was taking Mrs. Thompson‘s walker and going into the bathroom with it before vanishing.
When we got to the desk we explained to Glenda what had happened. “I can’t put my finger on who it is,” Anne confessed again.
Glenda thought a minute and then said, “Jessie Hoffmyer? Remember how she’d sit in the chair waiting for y’all to come put her to bed and then she’d get up with her walker and make her way to the bathroom?”
“That’s it,” Anne declared slamming her hand on the desk. “She always wore a blue nightgown. They all had to be blue, her favorite color, or she would not change out of her street clothes.”
“And she had the ball on top of her head, even when she went to bed,” Glenda added.
I brushed off the new data and went back to my floor, Station 2.
A couple of hours later, I was walking down the hall checking the residences when a patient’s call light came on about three doors away from me. “I’ll get it,” I called out to Anne and Geralene who were down the long hallway.
I came into the room as Mrs. Lambert sat up in the bed. Mrs. Lambert was of sound mind. I can’t remember a time she was ever confused or disoriented. Her purpose for being in a nursing facility was because she was just old. She had no one who could stay at home with her to help with her daily routines.
“The nurse didn’t give me my insulin. She came in here with it. I saw the syringe in her hand and I pulled up my sleeve like this,” she said demonstrating her actions. “But she just smiled at me and walked away.”
“I’m the only nurse on the floor, Mrs. Lambert. Are you sure you weren’t dreaming or something?”
“No! I was wide awake,” she denied insistently.
Okay, I thought. To her, I asked, “Who was it then?”
She thought a second, shook her head and answered,” I don’t know. I never saw her before.”
“Were one of the CNA’s coming to check your blood sugar?” I asked, knowing in my heart the aids knew better than to do something like that.
Mrs. Lambert sat up a little straighter, “Now Michelle, I am not crazy. I saw that woman come in here with a syringe in her hand and when I pulled up my sleeve, she smiled and went back out the door. I saw the door open, her come in, and then I saw the door close as she left.”
“Just a minute ago! You had to have passed her coming in the room if not pass her in the hallway.”
“Mrs. Lambert, I was only a couple of doors away when I saw your light come on. I didn’t see anyone leaving here. I came straight to you.” After a minute of thought, I asked, “What did she look like?”
“She had brown hair to her shoulders, big eye glasses, and she was wearing an orange smock. You know, one of those things that you wear over your uniforms so you don’t get them dirty. Kind of old-fashiony like.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back.”
I left and went back to 1st Station to ask Glenda if she knew who this person was. I had already figured it was a ghost. I explained the events that had occurred. Glenda thought and thought and then called the orderly, Robert, to the desk. Robert had been there a year or two longer than she had been.
“Who is that nurse that used to wear the orange smock all the time?” she asked Robert. “I know you remember her. Kay used to get on her all the time about wearing orange.”
“Oh, I know who you’re talking about! Mary Harper was her name,” he answered. “Why?”
“She just tried to give Mrs. Lambert some insulin,” I said to Robert.
Robert rolled his eyes. “Then she did it from the grave. That woman’s been dead for about 10 years now.”
“That’s what I’m saying, Robert,” I added laughing.
He shrugged and said, “I wouldn’t be surprised. They fired her and she kept coming back to work for three nights in a row afterwards. She took it real hard: them firing her.”
Glenda explained, “She was an alcoholic and they had to let her go. It must have been a year or so later that she died.”
I went back to Mrs. Lambert and told her, “The woman’s name is Mary Harper. She doesn’t work here anymore so, if she comes back in here, tell her she shouldn‘t be here, okay?”
“Was it a nurse?”
“Yes, she was a nurse but, they had to let her go so make sure you tell her to leave if she comes back in here. Call the desk if you want me to come down here and tell her myself.”
“She’s dead, isn’t she?” I was trying so hard to be nonchalant about this and I didn’t know how to answer my patient without scaring the daylights out of her. “Michelle, I know it was a ghost I saw. I’m not crazy.”
I didn’t know how to respond to that, either. I could only offer reassurances as I left the room. On the way back to the desk, I stopped in the patient’s big bathroom. I had been employed with this facility a total of about 10 years and have used this particular bathroom so many times. That night would be the last time I would ever step foot in it again at least, alone. I only remember one other time in my life that I can recall, what I can only describe as being truly terrified of an entity. This night was the second time.
From the moment I entered the bathroom until about three minutes later when I exited, I sensed something was wrong. I brushed it off as; the place is totally haunted. No big deal. As I used the facilities, I became increasingly frightened. I
felt someone was in there with me and “he” was angry.
A sense of real fear began rising inside of me as I suddenly took on a feeling that I would be “barricaded” inside the bathroom if I didn’t leave. I remember that term explicitly; barricaded. In just a few seconds of entering the room and my feeling of fear beginning, I had grown into a panic.
“Anne,” I yelled hoping she could hear me down the long hallway. “Geralene! Anne!”
As I reached for the nurses emergency call light I reasoned with myself; I’m alone in here. There’s no one here but me. God will protect me. Just calm down and take a deep breath.
I kept repeating it to myself over and over again. The more I tried to calm myself, the angrier the entity became. He was completely pissed off as I sprinted toward the door to leave. I had the very distinct impression it would not open from the inside. I reached out and grabbed the handle and yanked. It opened. I stepped out from the bathroom and immediately, the feelings of anger, fear, and of being barricaded inside, dissipated. I have been scared before by ghosts but, as I said before, there was only one other time I was afraid to that degree.
As I went down the hall toward Station 1 again, Anne popped out of a room. “What’s wrong with you,” she asked. “You look like you seen a ghost and there’s plenty of them floating around here tonight, too.”
“The bathroom,” I stammered, still shaken, “The big bathroom.”
Anne looked thoughtfully in that direction before going back into the patient’s room she had been in. As she closed the patient’s door she said, “Oh yeah. I hate that bathroom too. You must have seen Mr. Rutledge in there.”
I stood at Glenda’s desk and asked, “Who is Mr. Rutledge?”
“Michelle, you remember Old Man Rutledge. He was always so mean to the staff. Whenever he got mad at us, which was all of the time, he’d roll his wheelchair into the big bathroom down there. I think he had died before you came back to work here. He died in the big bathroom, too. I remember they had to take the door off the hinges to get him out because when he died, his wheelchair fell over in front of the door and it had barricaded him inside.”