Nursing school isn't easy. I know. I did it. The thing is that when I started down that road I was eighteen with nothing on my plate but school (and men). My job was to do the best that I could and successfully complete three years of training, graduate and hopefully find employment. There were ups and downs along the way but mostly it was full speed ahead with big RN spotlighted at the finish line.
Not so for her.
At the age of forty she found herself unexpectedly standing in the unemployment line. The good paying job with one of the top freight companies in the country nothing but a bittersweet memory. There she was, a single Mom with two growing boys to feed and clothe, car payments to make and a house to maintain. What was she to do?
After a year of trauma, drama and a fruitless job search I received this phone call:
Her: Aunt Sue, I have made a decision. I'm going to nursing school.
Me: More silence, as I attempted to pick my jaw up off the floor where it had dropped in shock.
Her: Aunt Sue? Are you there?
Me: I'm here. Just trying to wrap my head around this.
Her: You don't think it's a good idea?
Me: I think it's a great idea. But, but....you can't stand hospitals or the sight of blood or anything that is remotely related to nursing. Do you think you can do this?
Her: I can. I don't ever want to be unemployed again.
And so it began. Armed with little more than guts and gumption and weighed down by a backpack overflowing with responsibilities her journey towards the coveted RN commenced.
There were trials along the way, both at home and at school. But with a small village of supporters to lean on in the bad times she pulled herself up and persevered. It was one step at time; one day at a time.
I remember one particular phone call just about a year ago. She was finishing up her most difficult semester. There was too little time. Too little cash. Too little of her to go around. She was going to quit. She just couldn't do it any longer. I'll spare you the details of that lengthy conversation, but it is one I will remember always.
She didn't quit.
She turned the corner and found that big bright RN firmly in place waiting for her at the finish line.
Last week, with her village of supporters present, she crossed that finish line. No, that's not quite right, she sprinted, with a smile as big as Texas and her boys by her side. Not only did she finish but she did so in grand style. She had been nominated by her instructors and voted on by her peers to be the key note speaker at graduation.
She did it her way. With steadfast determination, hard work and a quirky sense of humor. She walked the walk and now talks the talk of a nurse. Along the way she set an example of commitment and strength of character for her boys that will last a life time.
As she led her class of graduate nurses out of the auditorium with that smile firmly in place I thought back on that long ago phone call and wondered how I ever doubted her.
Today she she starts her new job. The one with a title that has initials on the end.
I think she knows this but it doesn't hurt to tell her again.
Congratulations Jodi. I couldn't be more proud of you or love you any more if you were my own.