When she was a toddler in Florida, Nancy Everett looked forward to spending time with her babysitter Lucy Railey, who looked after the child for 14 years.
One day in 1983, Lucy did not show up. In fact, she never showed up again. Nancy did not understand. In fact, she cried many times because she did not know what had happened to her dear friend and babysitter.
The sudden withdrawal left a void in Nancy. It was a void that could not be filled by anyone else.
Amazingly, after more than 30 years apart, the two women were surprised to suddenly find each other again. Without the use of Facebook or the Internet, Nancy and Lucy found themselves in the same room at the same time in a place neither had ever imagined — a nursing facility in the cozy town of Cleveland.
Nancy, who is now 49, still remembers the day she saw Lucy for the first time after more than three decades.
“I thought I had lost Lucy,” Nancy admits. “She was my babysitter when I was 3 or 4 -years old until I was 17 or 18. She would take care of me because I had seizures. I still have seizures to this day. But she would know what to do. Later my mom, dad and I moved to Georgia. Then I got with LifeBridges in 2010.”
According to Nancy, a staff member recently brought her to Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center to do crafts with the residents.
As she walked through the double doors, Nancy took a look around the large activity room and noticed a familiar face. A woman was sitting alone in a corner, looking out of a large window. The image was one she could never forget — Nancy instantly knew it was Lucy.
“I knew it immediately,” Nancy said. “I looked at my staff member and said, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I told my staff member I needed a chair. I felt dizzy. My staff member asked me, ‘Are you all right?’ I said, ‘That lady over there — she used to take care of me! About that time, Lucy was talking to one of her friends and I could hear her say, ‘I think I know her!’ It was like God had put us back together.”
Lucy who is now 81, admits, “I thought I was seeing things! I thought I was going to faint dead away. I thought of her quite often over the years. I didn’t think I would ever see her again.”
“I thought I would never see her again either,” Nancy said. “I would cry about it sometimes. She had been a very special part of me. We would get into things and have fun! She’s a very special person and she holds a very special place in my heart.”
Lucy had a term of endearment that she called Nancy — “Little Brat.” It was a phrase she used when they saw each other for the first time in over three decades.
Both said they easily recognized the other. Like everyone else, they were surprised to meet in a different state, a new city and the same center at the same time the other happened to be passing through.
“It’s like God brought us back together again,” Nancy reiterated.
“I’ve lived in just about all 50 states over the years,” Lucy said. “My husband did strange things. If he wanted a job in another state, he went to that state to get it. If he wanted a job in another state, he’d go to that state and get it. So I’d have to pack up quickly and get out. He just liked to see God’s country.”
According to Lucy, she was living in New York and suffered a heart attack when she was moved by her family to Cleveland and later placed in Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.
“My son and daughter-in-law had moved to Cleveland,” Lucy explained.
Unfortunately, Lucy said her son has since passed away. Nancy’s mother has also died.
Now the two women have been reunited, there is a strange comfort they enjoy with each other. Nancy and Lucy are together at least three days a week. The two admit their lives are enriched.
“She helps me in a lot of ways,” Nancy said. “I remembered what she told me at different times. That I had to keep moving on. That her ‘Little Brat’ didn’t need to cry. My mom passed away in 2005. My dad and I live with my sister and brother-in-law. I go to LifeBridges during the week.”
Their reunion was a surprise to everyone. It was a touching moment for two women who had bonded over many years, lost contact but never lost the love.
“I will always cherish Lucy,” Nancy said. “We would get into mischief every now and then. We would have fun. This is a blessing.”
“She’s still a little brat,” Lucy said affectionately.
They both laughed. Then Nancy gave her a hug.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 32.7 million children were in a regular child care arrangement while their parents worked or pursued other activities outside the home in 2011.