By Susan Marco, Provider Recruitment
My grandmother Ethel was a nurse in Honolulu/Pearl Harbor during World War II. She was sent to nursing school by her Illinois farm family because they thought she would be an old maid based on her heavy-set frame and not being quite the beauty, her sisters were.
The family must have been shocked when little, Ethel Mae, returned from nursing school in Chicago with a tiny waist, full bosom, and her hair styled. It was then that she told her family that she and some of her single friends had taken positions in the exotic-not an official state-tropical oasis known as Hawaii. It was early 1941.
My grandmother was with her friends hiking the lush, dense Hawaiian island mountains on December 7, 1941, because it was a Sunday and they had to go back to work the next day, which happened to be her birthday.
That Sunday, a date that will live in infamy, was a simple Illinois farm girl’s day of fun celebrating an early 23rd birthday and then, everything changed. She was a nurse; and she was called into action.
I think now about my high school senior son, Jack. He is at home. No prom, no senior slide, no senior anything. I don’t know that he has fully grasped what all of this means; to be frank, I don’t think I have either. Do we have a graduation party? Will I even be able to get the paper plates, plastic forks, napkins to even have a party? Will I be able to get the food? I went to Aldi one day when all of the COVID-19 talk began, and I reached for a tomato out of a flat of tomatoes (probably a flat of 20-25). Just as I was reaching for it, a woman picked up the whole flat and took it.
There were no eggs. There was one package of shredded cheese left. They had a limit on cans of beans. I stood in the store as if I pushed the pause button on my television and looked around. What was I missing? Should I be doing this? Did I not get some memo or pay attention closely enough?
I go to work every day just as all health care employees do. I am not an RN like my grandmother; I am not on the essential front line of this virus. I work in an office in the old hospital building where I continue on — continue to work, continue to get up every morning and go to bed every night and continue to show up.
But here is the heart of it all — I show up and do what I can. I take the information that is given to me and I work with it. I go home at night and try to fall asleep and not let the fear and anxiety take over. I get up in the morning, get my cup of coffee and proceed forward. I must trust that the decision makers are making good decisions. I must trust that my co-working providers and nurses have a plan and have the stamina to continue.
We can’t control this — this, being life. We can’t control how the journey switches, changes or alters. We could be hiking one day and be in triage tents in Pearl Harbor the next. We could be an 18-year-old that thinks they have the world by the tail, only to be told there is no end of the senior year, no prom, no senior glory. Yet, the thing is, we are all on this journey together and we need to show up for it. We can’t control it but we can be present for it. We can take ownership in our part. Perhaps even someday, tell our grandchildren about the event that colored our life’s journey.
About the Author: Susan Marco lives with her husband, Troy, and has two children, Kenzie (21) and Jack (18). Susan enjoys spending time with her family and enjoys reading and writing. Susan also has her own personal blog where she writes about her various experiences as well as tackles the topic of Alzheimer’s, which she knows first-hand in caring for her mother.