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(Note: From time to time at the Make Life Good! Company we highlight the lives of people who have made life good for others. Here is one such story.)
“Yesterday… a child came out to wonder….”
She was born in a Rhode Island mill town to parents of modest economic means. They held the kind of jobs that you wouldn’t want. Her father was a textile worker who worked with black silk in deficient conditions that ruined his vision and hearing. Her mother was a “Warper” in the same mill. It ruined her vision and hearing, too. They did it for their survival. They did it for their family.
As a young girl their daughter lived in her family’s simple home that was big enough for five but small enough for building close family ties. Her major transgression in her young life was holding up a bunny rabbit by its ears. (I have the photographic proof.)
She would never do that now.
As time went on, her mother persuaded her husband to leave the textile industry for a better, healthier job. Like any job change, it wouldn’t be easy. He was afraid of the prospect of doing so. It’s so hard to change long-held habits. But it worked. He took a job as a House Man at a local, exquisite country club. People loved him there. He worked well beyond the traditional “retirement age.”
Her mother went back to school at a late age to become an LPN. She became a doctor’s assistant in a local doctor’s office, in a time of life when other people would be contemplating retirement. She worked there into her 80’s.
But the doctor needed a patient receptionist. He hired her daughter. She was fourteen years old. She took the job to gain experience. Her pay rate was $5.00 per hour. The job was more important than the money the job paid. He would later give her advice that would change her life.
Around that time she already knew she wanted more. Not more money, but that would be nice. More life enjoyment. More personal development. She became interested in music and took saxophone lessons from several teachers. It required her to walk or take buses to her lesson destinations. She carried her instrument and books where she had to go. She did so alone. At eleven years old. It was the “old” world when city streets weren’t so daunting.
She joined a local performance group called the “A-Tempo Stage Band.” More practice, more local travel, more time. She performed at her State’s famous venues: Diamond Hill State Park, the University of Rhode Island, and oh, beyond the State in a little place call “N. Y. Giants Stadium.”
Her skills improved over time. More dedication, more time. She became an All-State Saxophonist. Like a World War II veteran with bad memories, she is reluctant to talk about it. Her modesty overwhelmed her achievement. It still does today.
Oh, that Doctor’s advice. She planned to go to college and didn’t know which program to enroll in. But she knew she wanted to become an RN, like her Mom’s chosen path. He advised her to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program at the University of Rhode Island. People weren’t doing that then, opting instead for two - and three-year degree or certificate programs. The Bachelor’s Program would be four years. It would require savings, some modest parental financial help and part time work.
So that’s what she did.
She would complete that program in 1974. Upon graduation she went looking for a job with a buddy. They decided to work at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. She thought she’d stay there for one year.
But she stayed for forty-seven years, in the ever-changing world of nursing. Through epidemics and now pandemics. Taking care of post-surgical patients with all forms of imaginable conditions and surgeries: eye surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery. Taking care of those who didn’t feel comfortable in their given bodies. It’s amazing what nursing has become over that time. She persevered and adapted through all of it.
Perhaps the greatest challenge would be the care of COVID patients on the “front line” of nursing over the last year. A world of personal risk. It was never her goal to do so. But she was asked to do so. So she did it. She survived.
Forty-seven years after joining Miriam Hospital, she would retire as an Outpatient Surgical Recovery RN. That would be today: April 2nd, 2021.
And that would be my wife, Dorothy.
Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life! And, knowing you, your life will be filled with overwhelming compassion for others.
And overflowing with personal sacrifice…
“We can’t return, we can only look, behind from where we came…David J. Wudyka
… and go round and round and round in the Circle Game.”
Co-FounderThe Make Life Good! Team
Dover Road meanders its way from Millis Massachusetts through the beautiful countryside towns of Dover and Needham to Newton, connecting with Route 9 at a convenient junction that greatly eases a trip to Brookline, just five miles to the East. Along the way, horse pastures, small ponds, lakes, and patches of yellow flowers punctuate the adjacent landscapes, not to mention multi-million dollar homes and estates. Dover is Massachusetts’ wealthiest town.
I discovered Dover Road about seven years ago, as I sought a route that would avoid Route 495 and much of Route 9. Traveling it for the first time, I couldn’t believe what I found. I pretended that it was my “secret route” that no one else could use.
But my fantasy was short-lived.
Dover Road is a short cut for many wealthy people who live along the route and who travel to the hospitals of Brookline and elsewhere for work. Yet I pretended that I was alone on the road, wearing an “Invisibility Cloak” to hide my fears from others on the Road.
But my destination today is a place of victory. A place without fear.
I love the idea of returning to a place of victory, whether it is in-person or in one’s mind. It is so exciting and tremendously satisfying. Here are some people who returned to their personal place of victory:
It is MacArthur returning to the Philippines.
It is the American Army marching down the Champs Elysees on August 29, 1944.
It is Lovell, Young and Cernan returning to the moon.
It is Brady returning to Gillette.
It is Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”
It is the D-Day survivors returning to the Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, perhaps for the last time.
Today, April 27, 2021, I am all of them. They are within me. My victory is much less spectacular, but no less meaningful. When I arrive at my place of victory, I will meet other victors. I don’t know them. We are a special army. Although we fought our battles independently, we were always connected. We came from around the world to fight our battles, yet we fought in the same war at the same time.
And today, I will be given a new name: “Survivor.”
We survivors will meet each year at our place of victory, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Brookline, to share our stories. Over the last seven years we all took different roads to get there, but one year from now, I know I’ll be taking Dover Road to join them. Wearing my brave face. Wearing my victor’s armor. Shedding my Invisible Cloak. Kicking fear to the pavement.
What a beautiful journey it will be…..
David J. Wudyka
The Make Life Good! Team