One of the most prominent memories of my mother was her white dress hanging behind the downstairs hall door with the white shoes that were notably worn despite multiple polishings. In the pockets of her dress were bandage scissors, bandaids, crumpled Kleenex, and a pen. These items were part of her, the mother we did not know when she left our house and shape shifted into a Super Hero, in her white uniform, that told people she was an Angel, a Healer, a Humanitarian, that most times received very little recognition.
She was a nurse, a wife, a daughter, sister, aunt, friend but most of all she was our Mother. A woman who could and did do it all for her seven children, her family, and her community. A she lion, fierce and protective, loving and devoted. We all seven felt this and knew this deep in our souls. I realize I modeled myself after her, my True North, my legacy is to her, with her, from her……Thank you Mommer.
I traveled far away from my home in a tiny southern coastal town of Maine as soon as I graduated highschool in 1973. Restless and ready to take on the world, after many years and many experiences I applied and was accepted into the Nursing Program at Delta College in Stockton, CA. I was married with three children and by then the “calling” was undeniable. I knew deep within me that my mother’s path was mine.
My nursing career in the medical field has been a great part of who I have become as a person. I have worked alongside some of the bravest and most courageous people I can imagine.
The first eighteen years I hungered for more and accomplished it…more knowledge, more knowing, more intuition which all served me working in a Respiratory/ Medical Intensive Care Unit in Stockton, CA. I soon became a Supervisor and managed a ten bed unit along with an amazing staff. I am ever humbled thinking about those years. I also worked in a Progressive Telemetry Unit, handling cardiac patients, advanced illness, and multiple system disease. There, I led a staff of loyal, hardworking, wonderful people. I thank all the people who worked with me for their generosity, love and loyalty as they are a large part of me still to this day.
My life went through many changes…tragedies, crisis, pain and loss it seemed for a long time. Through my healing, I started to think more deeply of what I pondered about many times during my years in the medical field; death, and my part in it. As I drove to work, I shape-shifted to the person that others needed me to be: the do’er, fixer, make it better, find the answer, follow “the” rules, stay in the lines, save them at all cost, leader of others that worked with me. That is what medicine is in this country. This served me for awhile , but anyone who knew me in this arena knows that I am definitely an outside the lines, out of the box, thinking person.
In 2016 I lived in Austin ,Texas. I was hired at a Hospice, working in the field as a nurse case manager. My training for all those years at times now worked against me. I had to learn to slow down, step back. Death was on my shoulder whispering, telling me there is a way to do this that we are missing here in North America. Death is a part of our lives, each and every one of us, and denying that, pretending it isn’t, has definitely done us a disservice. We have created a very real fear around death. We are death phobic, leading us to live at times far beyond our life’s limit. This can lead to suffering and “living” our death at our often sad, painful, lonely expense.
I have a dream, a dream that I want to turn to reality. I have returned to that tiny coastal town in southern Maine, to my roots, where my heart strings have always kept me anchored. A dream to help educate the community on death, to guide and share my knowledge, education, and “tools” in the hopes of easing fear, pain and loneliness to unite us in this part of our lifes’ journey.