Thursday, May 14, 2015

5 Lessons I Learned from My Nurse Mom {A Tribute to Her in Retirement}

I don’t remember how old I was when we happened upon the accident. I remember a man in a field. And blood. Lots of blood. My mom called out to me for a blanket & I delivered an ugly brown one quickly soaked red. Mostly I remember my totally calm mom, huddled over the man, saying, “Keep talking to me.”

It was decades later that I was traveling with a family of my own when we happened upon an upturned vehicle in the ditch. What was intended to be a simple stop to make sure they had a cell to call 911 ended in my doing CPR in a snowy ditch and saying to the bleeding man next to me, “Keep talking to me.” 

I was my mom except the total opposite. Where she exuded serenity, I cried anxious tears over a chest as I counted out compressions.

Aside from mother, my mom wore the title “nurse.” Her training was her way of living and it colored everything she did, influencing me along the way.

Always observant she soaks in her surroundings like a sponge. Details that may seem little to some are magnified in her world because she knows the smallest change could be indicative of big consequence.  I was taught that there was more to life than meets the eye and that awareness will preserve people, relationships, and situations.

This combined with empathy made her attractive to talk to. I’m sure it did at the bedside but I saw it more in my home, when she would talk me through mean-girl issues and hold me through stressful cheerleading auditions and assure me that my thoughts mattered. With a listening ear and focused eyes, presence in any situation came natural to her and, because of that, she won the hearts of my friends too. She was “the one” to talk to and be with.

Her time, although busy, came without ever making you feel like you disrupted her life. I suppose her work taught her to partition needs with confidence that all would get done. And somehow it did.

But, underneath her patient, assessing exterior lied a constant fighter. No matter what situation came her way she took what may have felt stressful on the inside and transformed it into powerful decision making to keep working for the next moment. The next physical breath for that man on the road. The spiritual breath in ours. 

When my dad left our side for Glory my brother and I watched our grieving mother with question marks on a future. How do you go forward when the life you know changes in an instant? She answered. In the mess of the raw emotions she believed and gently expressed God still having plans for us. We cried with hope. She went back to work full time for the first time in years.  She opened her broken, fearful heart to love once more and, through her grace, showed us how to do the same. Fight in the form of impassioned quiet gave way to new pulse in this life.

Because ultimately this life is about more than just us.  We are one piece of an earthly God-created puzzle.

My mom has lived a life glowing of service. She went into nursing because she loved people and was intrigued by science.  She would hold the shaking mom through labor, rock the ill child, push pain meds for the weak, hold the hand of the loved one saying “goodbye” and even stop on the road because she knew doing unto others without reserve would create a radically blessed life in the midst of the ups and the downs.

My mom is an extension of God’s hand in more ways that I can put into words.  When we left that scene in my childhood I realized she was an everyday hero. Special not only to me but to a watching world. 

This month she hung up the stethoscope to take on a new title, “retiree.” I’m grateful for the added time this will give her and I.  The trips with her husband and girlfriend time gained.  The added babysitting she can now take on. :)

Most of all, though, I’m thankful for who her career helped me to become.  We don’t stand alone.  All of us are influenced by the tide. Nurse is a title I never claimed but the skill sets notable to her field have inspired me to care deeply, listen carefully, nurture hearts, and live for Christ as a blessing to the other in my own work and volunteerism.

Happy retirement, mom! You are a blessing.

xo Melissa

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