May 6, 2016
A couple of weeks ago, I was with my family at an upscale restaurant in Dallas for lunch. When the twenty-something year old waitress approached our table to take our drink order, she did a very, very quick double take at my wife, Barbara, and said very pointedly: “You are a nurse at Children’s Hospital.” Barbara and I were both shocked. She told the young lady, “Well, yes, I was once a nurse at Children’s but it was many years ago.” The young lady then said “No, you were one of my nurses and you worked on the fifth floor and I remember you.” Again, Barbara and I were very shocked because Barbara had worked on the fifth floor. The young lady then went on to share with us that she is 28 years old and that she spent four months in a coma at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and that she was in and out of the hospital several times between the ages of six and sixteen and that she had no doubt that Barbara was one of her nurses. At this point, we did the math and learned that it was quite possible that Barbara could have been one of her care providers and had apparently touched this young lady’s life.
The encounter with this once very sick young lady caused me to think back over Barbara’s career as a health care provider and about the countless lives she touched at Children’s Medical Center here in Dallas. I clearly remember the celebrations as well as the sadness associated with very sick babies and children at Children’s Medical Center. I joke that Barbara is an antique because she was the very first Certified Pediatric Registered Nurse in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She was the first one to take the certification course and pass it. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I also remember that because she was a “Nurse’s Nurse,” or a perfectionist. The management of Children’s Medical Center flew her to several hospitals around the country to represent the nursing staff and help design a new hospital to be constructed: North Dallas Children’s Hospital.
I can also remember the day when the nurse’s dress standards changed. I always liked the starched white dresses, white hose and even white caps that were the nurse’s uniform of the day. We both were a little apprehensive at the new uniform of colored scrubs that provided a more comfortable and colorful look that is now the standard.
How can I forget the telephone call I got one afternoon from Barbara from a pay phone (there were no cell phones in those days) asking me to help her with a flat tire? All I could think about was my sweet girlfriend stranded on the side of the road in her white uniform in a tough part of Dallas. I got to the location of the vehicle and found her with the car. I then noticed a six foot tall sign about six feet wide at a Texaco station about fifty yards away that read “FLATS FIXED.” I pointed to the sign and she sheepishly looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, “I just wanted to see if you would come.” To this day I don’t know if she was lying or not, but I have been there for her for over thirty years.
Over the years she has been “team mom” for countless sports teams and always been around to help anyone who gets sick. I can recall multiple times she has helped people choking in restaurants or on the scene of accidents. She is always doing what she knows so well how to do: helping people. Having been a breast cancer survivor twice, she helps other women deal with their own medical challenges. She even sews vest-like devices to hold drains for ladies recovering from breast surgery with a serger machine I purchased for her.
There have been times when I have grabbed her out of the shower, wrapped a towel around her naked body and pushed her out of the front door of our home to help a neighbor whose child was having a seizure. Recently she returned to the same Children’s Medical Center to sit with a young mother whose young children were very sick. Barbara’s visit became an extended stay, doing what she does so very well: understanding and helping with medical things and heartfelt motherly things.
Thanks to that young lady at our recent lunch, I was able to reflect on my wife’s own God given talent that she has always shared so very freely. It just goes to show you that the things we do today can and do touch the lives of other people long after their encounter with us has passed.
Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.