I have the privilege often of being with people during the last days of their lives. In fact, I am often with them in their last moments. I could write a BOOK on those stories alone…… And although each story is uniquely different from the next, all of them seem to have a few things in common. Whether someone is a highly educated engineer, school teacher, or scientist – Waitress, garbage man, or stay-at-home mom, no one ever asks to see a copy of their latest bank statement. No one wants to glance once more at a photo of their home, or have one more ride in their expensive car…. They want the people they love to know they are loved. They want to know their children are going to be okay without them, or their wives or their husbands to know they love them. They often want to reconcile with those they have wronged, or to forgive those who have hurt them.
The nursing field is a newer career for me – Only 11 years now. And, I’m still not really 100% convinced it’s my life’s calling, but I do so much enjoy the glimpses of who God is, and how He feels about people, through each of my encounters and relationships at work. I will stay there, until He tells me to leave.
Recently, I had a very small glimpse into the life of a very special lady. She is a nurse – A retired nurse. I can’t tell you her name. But I CAN tell you that she is 103 years old. I think for the sake of this story I will call her “Thelma.”
Thelma is ……. Well, she has sort of become my “pen pal” through this blog. Her very, very sweet nurse’s aide, (Let’s call HER “Louise”), who has known her for many years, recently sent me an email, and that was just the beginning of what I am sure will be a lasting friendship. Louise has been reading my blog aloud to Thelma for 3 years now, and Thelma loves to hear my nursing stories, and stories about my family. And now I get to hear all about Thelma’s nursing stories and family through emails!
But THIS one, I wanted to write not ONLY to Thelma & Louise, but to all retired nurses and their sweet aids. So if that’s you – Just INSERT your name, because THIS is for you!
Dear sweet retired nurse (“Thelma”),
I am tickled that you have been enjoying my blog for 3 years. I am amazed that I now know someone who is 103 years old!. I am laughing my butt off over the stories I hear of your silliness – But I know very well that silliness is just part of the DNA of anyone who comes from Nova Scotia. We just have a special kind of “badness” in us… I love that you are 103 years old and are not afraid to ask a man for a kiss, or to every now and then pinch a bum! Go for it!
But more importantly than that, my new sweet friend, I want to tell you thank you. Thank you for each and every patient you ever cared for. Thank you for every hug you gave to a mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparent, or friend. Thank you for every sweet word of comfort you shared when one of your patients was feeling frightened and hopeless. Thank you for every cheerful hug you gave, and for every tear you wiped. Thank you for going to work and putting your life’s chaos on hold so that you could manage what felt like, every one else’s, for putting everyone’s needs before yours. Thank you for the younger nurses you mentored and helped to shape into the caring and nurturing nurses they are today. Thank you for your work ethic that kept you from calling in sick, allowing you to be just the right person, for just the right patient, at just the right time. Thank you for all of those years you looked after everyone else.
And to your nurse aid, (“Louise”),
Thank YOU for doing such hard work, not only physically, but emotionally. Thank you for going the extra mile and doing what really matters when the nurse is too busy. People like YOU not only make our work easier, but you make patient’s stays in the hospital, and often the last days on this earth, more bearable. Thank you for your shoulder, your ear, your hugs, your smiles, your gentle touch, your friendship, and most of all for making patients confident that they are loved and safe. You often go unrecognized, and for that I apologize. You are the secret ingredient to a good patient-nurse relationship…. We could not survive without you. Neither could the world!
THANK YOU for reading my blog to Thelma. THANK YOU, for sharing Thelma with me! Thank you for loving her and making her feel as special as I know she is!
I have been so tickled all week long about my new friend. Thelma & Louise, there are 2 copies of my book on their way to you in Nova Scotia, sent by me with lots of love, a few hugs, and a little bit of Nova Scotia “badness.”
To every nurse and nurse’s aides who have retired – THANK YOU!!!!