And Here’s to You, Mrs. Richards

Gail called earlier than usual this morning and that fact alone scared me.  I had served my Breakfast Pie to everyone before they ran off to school and work. But I know when you have multiple little children, everything takes longer and by the time Gail is free enough to talk on the phone, it’s usually late morning or some days, after lunch. The pitch of her voice reinforced the feeling that something was wrong.  I knew it couldn’t be a medical emergency because Gail was a nurse in her earlier life and she can handle any health problem quickly and confidently.  The only time Gail’s façade cracked was due to her recent inability to get pregnant.  Gail needed her children and they were growing up and leaving her without a purpose.  Gil didn’t want Gail to work even though their original plan included them practicing as a team.  Gil probably thought his abandonment of their professional plan permitted Gail the chance to raise her children without working. But Gail took great pride in being a nurse and wanted to do both.  It was unconventional but it suited her.  After all, I was crazy enough to be considering going to school.  After Gail’s kids get a little older, she may have more free time on her hands that she needed to use caring for other people.

I tried to remain nonchalant on the phone with Gail but was intrigued by the change in her habit. Her words came tumbling out of her mouth so fast that I couldn’t keep up with what she was saying. Apparently, Gil’s longtime nurse was getting ready to retire.  Mrs. Richards was old-school all the way, kept Gil in line with appointments, ordered supplies and left promptly at 5 every day so she could get home to make dinner for her husband.  Gail was afraid that Gil would hire some young nurse.  Of course, that was a threat to her and an affront to the fact that she was a nurse and could do the job.  Except that she had little children.  Gail wasn’t upset by the fact that she was raising children; she was a wonderful mother who spent play time with her kids, kept them clean and well-fed, helped them with homework and spent more time with them than Gil due to his doctoring schedule.

I suggested Gail help Gil speak to the applicants so she could help choose the best one.  Gail said that she would suggest that idea to Gil in a way that would show how much she cared about his work and use her professional knowledge.  Gail also let me know that she had an additional idea to propose that might solve two problems.  Although she did not want to share it with me yet, Gail now sounded pretty excited about the chance to get involved.

Gail mentioned that she wanted to plan a nice retirement celebration for Mrs. Richards.  She had cared for the practice and Gil for many years without enough acknowledgement. Gail didn’t want to let another nurse’s work go without praise.  That’s Gail, always looking out for everyone.

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