I have never seen a ghost. I lived in a house built in the 1870’s but there were no ghosts even though my mother was convinced that a woman was killed there and buried in the basement. The previous owner’s wife had disappeared and was never found. Since the back-cellar wall was of different brick than the rest of the cellar, Mom thought she was buried behind the wall. Supposedly, there is a ghost that wanders the eleventh floor of the VA Medical Center in Albany. The ghost, as seen by the elevator workers, is a nurse with an old- fashioned nurses’ cap. The eleventh floor was originally used as a Nurses’ Quarters. I was alone there many times late at night while preparing for a dialysis emergency or changing a peritoneal dialysis catheter that had disconnected, but I never saw her.
There is one incident that haunts me to this day. I was a head nurse on a chronic floor at the VA in the 1970s. There was a patient by the name of Everett Brody on the floor. Mr. Brody, a WW 2 veteran, and a former alcoholic. His family wanted nothing to do with him. He sort of adopted me. I would get the mugs and candy dishes that he made in ceramics class and he would often put the dessert off his tray on my desk; one of the reasons I was overweight. He was a good patient and I liked him. He was mild mannered, never complained and was thankful for anything he got. Unfortunately, he got throat cancer, a condition common in alcoholics. He required a tracheostomy and you could smell the cancerous flesh through it when he breathed. It was a very definite odor. At the time, the Albany VA did not have a radiation facility so Mr. Brody got sent to the Bronx VA for treatment.
One night around 2AM, I woke to the smell of Mr. Brody’s tracheostomy. I thought I was nuts especially since the smell passed quickly. Two days later I got a call from the VA registrar who told me the Bronx VA had called to let us know that Mr. Brody had died two nights before.
All veterans are superheroes. Mr. Brody never talked about what he did during the war. He may have stayed state side and never fought for all I know. I don’t care, he is still a hero. He did what he was assigned to do, what his country asked of him. As a nurse, I cared about him which made me a hero in his eyes.
I truly believe Mr. Brody came to me that night to say good-bye.
Please note: The patient’s name has been changed.