Sunday, November 15, 2009

The End, The Beginning

Oh that's quite the dramatic title, isn't it?

The beautiful woman is my mother, Marietta Norton, in her graduation photo from nursing school in Des Moines, Iowa. I wish you could see how blue her eyes were. She died in 1974, when I was twenty. She was younger when she died than I am now.

I have spent hours today unsuccessfully searching for a photo of my own graduation day from nursing school, 11 June, 1983. My six year old son, dressed in a little jacket and tie, with his hair slicked is standing next to me on the steps of the first home Bill and I would make together. It was a week before Bill and I married. My son looks proud. I look so young.

I wore a dress uniform and my nurse's cap, and an expression of happy nervousness. My classmates had elected me to give a speech at the graduation ceremony. Our dog, dear Measly, waited back at my apartment; I'm afraid it was a long day for her. She never complained.

Measly. Our last shelter rescue. Doesn't she look whippety? She was whippet-sized, whippet-shaped, and loved to run zoomies. But I think it was just a happy accident. She was a great good dog.

Tomorrow morning I will restart my nursing career. I will be working at Western Baptist Hospital. The first two weeks will be the hospital's mandatory new employee orientation: classroom instruction from 8 to 4:30. Then I'll do four to six weeks of full time twelve hour shifts of orientation on my unit. After that I start my part time job.

I am as certain as we can be about these things that I'll work at this hospital for the next ten years. Since moving to Paducah, time has been flying by me, catching me in its jet stream, spinning me like a dervish. Occasionally I tap a toe down, and thrust my arms out to stop: eight puppies born, Xela winning at Keeneland, a first draft of a novel finished, treasured visits from friends and family. And then the time whirlwind catches me back in its tornado. Can it be that we just celebrated our seventh year in Paducah? How can that be?

In ten years, I'll be sixty-five. Bill will be eighty. In just ten years.

Ten years ago, Mama Pajama was the #1 AKC Lure Coursing whippet in the country. Fat Charlie received his Award of Racing Excellence, and his Field Championship. Sam I Am's mom, Jessie, got her Championship in the show ring. Every weekend I headed off with friends in the Warburton Whippet Wagon to have some dog fun. My son was in college. We saw patients everyday in Bill's office on our farm. We had eight horses and ponies, who whunkered to me in the early morning when I opened the barn doors.

Ten years ago, we lived on the farm with Uncle (Saint) Opie the black lab, Gracious, Caruso, Giacomino, Maria, Mama Pajama, and Fat Charlie. Luciano and Delia weren't even born yet; they're nine and a half now.

Tomorrow begins the next ten years. I'm excited to be given the privilege of taking care of people again. I've missed that. I'm nervous about how the dogs and Bill will fare. How I will fare - given my well known separation anxiety from the waggle! I'm excited at the notion of being able to enter some dog shows and agility trials.

I'm beyond thrilled to have been hired at the hospital where I will work. I am so impressed with everything I have seen there. It's a good place. I will be proud to be a part of that caring.

I loved being a nurse. It will be wonderful to be a nurse again.

Christmas 1983. I was working straight midnights and Jake had a Dukes of Hazard lunchbox.

hug your hounds and please think of mine


  1. Muzzer says you are still a pup, and this is a great time to be starting a new career. She marvels that you are taking this step, and sends her congratulations. We will come and walk the whippets if it becomes a problem.

    Gussie n Teka

  2. Oh Patience I love that story. I thought the first picture would be you. My heart just goes a whirl whenever I see a nurse in a cap. I wore mine for a long time when I worked in a hospital. Of course by the time I got my RN license, nobody wore caps. I waited so many years for mine, I had to wear it. Good Luck to you. It will work out fine.
    If I could leave 6 kids you can leave your doggies for part of the time.

  3. Auntie Patience
    How wondewful!!!
    We awe so happy fow you to be stawting this new phase of youw life..youw last ten have been exciting, and wondewful, sometimes sad, but thwoughout , you have flouwished .
    Youw mommi was twooly gowgeous( mommi and I think you awe too) and I'm suwe she is pwoud of you ,looking down and bwagging to the othew angels about hew little giwl.

    Time goes much too fast fow mommi's, I'm just a doggie..I enjoy the moment and don't think beyond.
    Youw waggle is in good hands..they will be fine and pwoud of you too, and Bill will take cawe of them and you wif the same love and tewwificness he has aways shown
    smoochie kisses(we wish you wewe ouw nuwse when we need it)
    Asta and mommi

  4. Monday morning, and time to go to work! I'll be thinking of you as I say g'bye to Ed and Reub for the day as I go off to my own job. They sleep the whole time I'm gone. Sounds like your hounds might do the same: they ought to have lots of energy built up during your 12 hour shifts!
    Good luck.

  5. Your mother is beautiful (like mother like daughter!)


  6. Gussie and Teka - We'll take you up on it! Swede Willy Yum would be in heaven!

    Thanks, Muzzer

  7. Sweet memories. ten years...Oh how time flies. Loved your story. Will continue to love it. Lucky patients. Happy Waggle, all our best to you, Patience. Having my lap warmed by my sweet little Jeter who is seated with me as I type this comment. xoxo

  8. You are one of the most courageous women I know. I was impressed when you went to nursing school while raising a child as a single mom. I was always impressed watching you compete with horses and hearing about your dogs' achievements. I am impressed by your writing, your NPR essays, and the courage it took to leave the farm and move to Paducah. And I'm impressed by your courage in taking on this new adventure. Your mother would be so proud of you. I'm proud to be your friend. :-)

  9. QMM - I wore my cap too! I was only one of two on my floor who did. Then tragedy struck - one of the nurses died unexpectedly in her sleep. Her family came to get the contents of her locker, and the head nurse accidentally opened my locker. The family took my cap home, thinking it was a treasure to remember their mom/wife/gramma by. I sure never told them what happened.

  10. Hey sweet Asta! You're right - Bill will take great care of the waggle. (I'll sure miss them though!)

    Kerry, don't you wish you could put a secret video camera and see what they really do? Bill's studio/gallery is attached to the house, so he will let them in and out, out and in. Just not quite at their complete beck and call as they're accustomed. They'll be fine.

    Kat - Like a certain grandmother/granddaughter I know!!! Yes!

  11. Ina - please give that dear little Jeter a kiss on his nose for me. Time sure does fly.

    Alison - you make me cry. We had so much fun, didn't we? You have added so much to my life!

  12. Patience, I don't envy you those 12 hour shifts, but I know you, Bill and the waggle will get through it all with flying colours.

    I enjoyed this gift of a glimpse into your life, your history.

    One of my favourite poems is "The Bridge" by Dorothy Hallard:
    "The way I walk
    I see my mother walking,
    My feet secure
    And firm upon the ground.
    The way I talk
    I hear my daughter talking,
    And hear my mother's echo
    In the sound
    The way she thought
    I find myself now thinking,
    The generations linking
    In a firm continuum of mind.
    The bridge of immortality
    I'm walking--
    the voice before me echoing behind."

    May your mother walk with you as you take those first courageous steps back into the world of nursing.

  13. Paws khrossed fur woo!

    Be sure to floof your tail!

    PeeEssWoo: Mom says that was a pawesome post!

  14. Jean - that poem is so very lovely! How I hope that our paths cross in real life some day. Thank you for the gift of those words.

    Hey Khyra and your mom- I'm going to bed with a big smile on my face: imagining me floofing my tail tomorrow!!! Priceless!!!

    good night all!

  15. Hi, Patience!
    We know you must be very excited and nervous at the same time but we know everything is going to be ok!
    Paws crossed!
    Kisses and hugs
    Lorenza and mom

  16. Francarrich from WWNovember 16, 2009 at 1:18 AM

    It's Monday morning here & I've just picked up on this new posting, so, Good Luck with your new job today, I hope you enjoy it & gain great satisfaction from it.

    On my 40th Birthday somebody said to me "Life really does begin at 40, I've done so much more since my 40th". At the time she was just 10 years older than me. I must admit I really didn't believe her as my life had settled into everyday family existence, comfortable and predictable but she was RIGHT! My life did change, not necessarily spectacularly but enough to make it much more interesting, bringing new experiences, new friends & best of all, the whippets! Although I have to add that the arrival of first grandchild last week will probably bring as much love & fun as the whippets have. LOL

    Your last ten years have brought enormous changes to you, Patience, hopefully most of them good (even if somewhat traumatic at the time), I hope the next ten are predominantly happy & comfortable to live through, even though we know there will be sad days amongst them, 'cos there always are.

    Best wishes from
    Wags from Banjo & Aida.

  17. You will do great, Patience! No need to be nervous - you'll be so used to it, in 3 weeks not working will be a hazy memory! Go, girl!
    Your mother was beautiful!

  18. Lots of luck, Patience! We are thinking of you!
    Your mom is a beauty!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  19. Ahhhh Patience, After working 3 twelve hour shifts in a row this weekend, with my feet killing me, and me reading blogs when I should be cleaning and food shopping, and feeling as if I can never hold another person's hand because can I really have anything left after 35 years of sadness and pain, I read your post, and start to cry and feel rejuvinated. I love my profession as well and can't think of anything else I would rather thankyou for the much needed boost after a sad and hard weekend.And welcome back to the sisterhood...Love Diana

  20. Good luck with your new job. You will get back in the hang of things in no time at all. Your mom was just beautiful and so are you.

    Love this post! I've been reading your blog from the beginning. It's been slow going but have enjoyed it so much. I've totally fallen in love with your dogs (past and present) and hope to eventually share my life with a man like your husband.


  21. It amazes me how busy life becomes! And what a beautiful picture of your mom. I have started following your blog after your question on mine. I never know how to answer comments. I may write a refresher course on the Butler-Bagman schism someday again. Meantime I'll keep up with your wonderful dogs and new nursing career.

  22. We know you will do well and that those people you are caring for are lucky to have you. The waggle will adapt as we know you will too :) We hope it went well today!

  23. Here is what we hope happened when you came home from work; the whippets waggled all around you and gave you kisses, Bill told you to sit down and put your feet up and then brought you a nice glass of wine. Our person works with a lady who still wears a cap. Everyone knows "that nurse who still wears a cap". Your Mother was beautiful and you look a lot like her.

  24. Trusting all went well today.... or I'm sure we will have the beginning of another book (HIPAA cleared, of course)

    We envy those who will have daily contact with you and your care.

    Enjoy the moment!

    Kathy and Flynn

  25. Lorenza and mom - you are exactly right!Thanks and hugs back at you!

    Carol- Oh you are going to have a magical time with that grandbaby! Thanks and the waggle sends wags to Banjo & Aida

    Thanks, Jeannette, you're right of course!

    Thanks M & M!

    Oh Diana, what a lovely, lovely comment. I will print that up for my locker at work <3

    Anne-Katherine - you made my morning! Thanks so much. I do wish every woman in the world could find such a wonderful life-mate. I must have been REALLY good in a prior life! (Or Bill must have been quite naughty!)

    B & B I'll go back and look at your comments. I know what you mean!

    Joe - Thanks, it did!

    G & G- Bill made a lovely dinner, and then Sammy and I headed out for our first agility lesson that Laurie from Minnesoooooota surprized us with. Yes, I slept well!!!

    Dear Kathy & Flynn- Yes, I won't be able to write about work the way I write about dogs, that's for sure!!!

    Gotta RUN!!!


  26. Congratulations on your new job! And, good luck to you as you start a new satisfying and fulfilling career. We know that you will do great.

    Your mother was beautiful. What a shame that she didn't have more time.

    Love and Lots of Koobuss Kisses,
    Koobie and Family

  27. Get back in there and do what you do best. Take care of others.

  28. Wow, congratulations on going back to something you love.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about those dog shows and agility trials, too.

  29. We've been thinking aboutcha ever since Monday morning. Now we know you are sitting in a classroom at least part of the time, but the real job with real people is right around the corner. Now some needy people of your community are going to reap the benefits of the love and caring you've been honing for the past ten years with your waggle, your husband, your family and your friends. You are going to be awesome, and your whippets will greet you with a wag and wiggle that will help to rejuvenate you each time you come home.

    We love nursing. Every time Moma is in a hospital environment she sort wishes that was the path she had taken.

    What a rich contribution you are about to make.

    Jake (the dog) and Fergi xxoo

  30. I loved this story about your mother, Patience. What a beautiful woman she was. I can see the goodness in her eyes, as I can see it in yours.

    Good luck in your new job. The hospital is lucky to have you!

  31. Wonderful photos. So you are headed back to work, eh? Sometimes I think about retiring-again, but wonder what I would do. At 62, shouldn't I be playing shuffle board down in Florida? Nah. That is not for me.

    I enjoy my work. It just never ends. The news does not happen on a time schedule. I am on call 24/7. I can be called out in the middle of making dinner or having a dinner party. I am kind of like a doctor, except with low pay. No, I do not know how to say, "No". Kind of comes with the job. You are either a photojournalist or a slacker photographer.

    In my spare time, I take photos for the hospital. Some wonderful people work there. I know you will enjoy your work.

    Take care. If I don't get round, have a great Thanksgiving. I am going to try and have a bite of tofurkey and hope all is well with the world for just a few hours, so I can relax.

  32. no looking ten years down the road! just a day or two will do. good luck at your new job, and congratulations! i hope you love it.


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