Archived Story

Support those who support others

Published 9:14pm Monday, March 5, 2012

Growing up with a nurse as a mother hasn’t always been the best. Let’s just say that it is extremely hard to feign a dire illness with the intent of getting out of school when you live with a health care professional. And then there were dinner-table stories about this or that wound or sickness Mom had encountered that day. It may have been fascinating to her, but to a 10-year-old girl, it just kills the appetite.

Still, having a nurse for a mother has offered me many experiences I might never have had.

When she worked in the dialysis unit, I was sometimes allowed to visit with the patients while they had to sit still during their frequent treatments. Their stories were often more fascinating than anything I could find on TV at the time.

Most of my life, my mom has worked as a home-health nurse. She has had strange and intriguing encounters with all sorts of people. One thing I admire about her is the enduring relationships she built with her patients. She would often check on shut-ins on her days off, just to make sure they knew someone cared. Sometimes she brought a bag of groceries or sometimes she brought my stepfather to fix a broken washer.

Sometimes, she brought my sister and me.

My favorite patient became a family friend until her illness eventually took her life. We visited for Christmas, her birthday and Easter. She even hosted a birthday party for my niece.

In fact, she shared with me her passion for journalism. As a younger woman, this patient had been editor of the local newspaper. She shared with me her expertise and, after I published a few articles in that paper, she shared her pride and her constructive criticism. She had a strength that amazed us all. She refused to spend her last years in a hospital, and my mother was all too happy to help her by providing medical care. I sometimes thought she wasn’t even sick.

But the thing I respected most about her was that when she truly needed it, she would swallow her pride and accept help. The local Meals on Wheels program became a lifeline for her. And even though she is gone now, I’ve remembered how the program helped her.

Meals on Wheels provides two meals a day to shut-ins who don’t want to live in a hospital. The program also offers the security of knowing that a caring volunteer will check on them daily. This is the greatest lifeline that some patients can have.

It’s in her memory that I make a donation to that program every year, and I encourage others to do the same.

Suffolk’s Meals on Wheels program has been operating for 25 years, bringing meals and security to shut-ins across the city. Like many charities, it relies solely on donations, which have dwindled during the recent economic problems. This week, Suffolkians have an opportunity to help raise more funds just by going out for a night of music and fun.

The second annual Rocky Hock Opry will be held March 9 at King’s Fork Middle School. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Meals on Wheels office at Sentara Obici Hospital; Beale & Curran PC in Smithfield; Windsor Pharmacy in Windsor; Nationwide Insurance on West Washington Street; Farmers Hardware in Holland; Dwight Bradshaw, DDS on Bennett’s Pasture Road; and from Billy Smith at 925-4541.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to support the worthy services Meals on Wheels provides.

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