The Brooch by Victoria L. Hall
As a young child I was always eager to help others. While in grade school at St. Paul's on Dixie Highway a group of my friends and I formed a little after school-club. We would make little trinkets and cookies for the sick and shut-in.One fall day we had made arrangements to visit the Old Waverly Hills Sanatorium. During the early 60's the TB hospital had been turned into one of Louisville's first nursing homes.
As we entered the massive building we all huddled together. At first it was startling.
The air in the building was musky and bursting of stale urine. As we moved along the shadowy and dungeon like corridors crying and ear-piercing moans filled our ears.
Unprepared with what we had heard and smelled a couple of the girls ran from the building. Guardedly the last two of us took hands and began to peer over half doors into ominous and dingy rooms. Even at the young age of 11 or so our hearts were touched. To this day I can still conjure up the sounds, sights, and odors of years long ago that I encountered in that building.
Some of the people were lying on beds. Others huddled in corners. Suddenly turning around the other girl had run and I found myself all alone in the shadowy and fear-provoking corridors.
As I turned the corner I peered over the half door at a teeny frame of a lady huddled in a corner. She was naked, but quickly moved toward me. Frantically I backed away from the half door.
Without any forewarning she reached over the half door grabbing my sweater. The room and halls were cold with a draft that swirled around my legs. I pulled away from her, but not before she grabbed my sweater again. I soon realized that she wanted my sweater and without hesitation I quickly pulled it off handing to the skeleton like figure.
Like a flash she moved across the room grabbing a cardboard box. Opening the box she frantically dug through it searching for something. She stood up and tossed something shiny over the door. Clicking down the hall I couldn't imagine what it might be. Scouring the floor I found a beautiful pearl brooch. I quickly picked it up and laid it back on the half door. Through the whole event the lady never spoke a word, but her piercing green eyes spoke a thousand words to my heart. Several times I placed it back on the half door and repeatedly she tossed it over the door towards me.
I soon understood that it was her gift to me for giving her my sweater. I certainly wanted nothing in exchange for my gift. She would not accept the broach back no matter how many times I put it back on the half door. She simply continued to pick it up and throw it towards me. I remember kissing the brooch in front of her and walking away. My heart had been touched by an act of love and appreciation that to this day some 40 years I have never forgotten. I can still see the microscopic lady huddled in the corner wrapped in my sweater. Over the years I wondered about her. Who she was, did she have family?
I know that from that day forward I was propelled into a destiny of compassion and caring for others in a way that only God could refine over the years as I journeyed through life.
When I saw the Waverly website and talked with Ron I knew that through that experience others would be touched by this story.
Are you wondering whether I have the brooch today? I don't know how over the many years of moving and growing and life itself, but I do!
It's as beautiful today as it was to a young girl of 11years old with wide sparkling eyes as she left such a sorrowful place with her treasure.
I wear it often and have had many people comment on it and so it opens a conversation whereby I can share such a cherished experience.
The journey of that day started me on a wonderful nursing career of many years allowing me to cherish and love the suffering and dying in ways I don't think I would have ever been able to do.
Please feel free to email me and share with me your story or questions.
Victoria L. Hall
Courtesy of The Brooch by Victoria L. Hall