I was visiting someone in the hospital, and the woman she shared the room with was deaf and mute and had been her whole life. She was around 80 years old and had just had a stroke.
Her son was there for a while waiting for her to wake up, but not 30 seconds after he left, she opened her eyes. Of course, she had no idea he had been there. There was no-one on staff at the hospital in the small town who knew sign language. Her husband had passed away, her daughter didn’t live in the state, so it was only her son nearby to talk to her.
It absolutely broke my heart to think of her waking up and feeling alone and unable to communicate. I was so nervous, but took a deep breath and went over to her and just started signing. I told her that her son had been there and I learned all about their family. Her face totally lit up. She smiled and my heart about burst!
The nurses came in and had me ask her a bunch of things. I remember just asking her if she needed a bedpan and a huge relief that came over her. She couldn’t even ask for a bedpan! No-one understood her!
Anyway, for the next maybe hour and a half, I just told her whatever stories I could think of, stuff about traveling, classes, etc. I came back to visit her the next day too, but then I had to go home (this was out of state). When I left, I kissed her head and she slowly (from the stroke) managed to get her hand into an I-love-you sign. I walked out into the hallway and just fell on my knees and cried.
I have never felt so useful in my whole life. This was 20 years ago and it still makes me cry to recall. – Anon