Eilene Whitt Jessup

I remember the first time I saw my daughter Hollie sing in public. It wasn’t the first time I had heard her warble like a baby song bird because, like her mama, she sang all the time…while playing with her toys, in the bathtub, walking to the park, in the backseat of that old Pontiac to the radio which were likely totally inappropriate songs for a small child to be listening to. She had a beautiful voice I used to proudly tell myself which was no surprise because DNA. Then one Sunday evening, standing in front of an audience with her Bible School choir, at the encouragement of her teacher, little Hollie stepped up to a microphone and sang the sweetest little chorus ALL BY HERSELF!!!

When I am afraid I will TRUST in You

I will TRUST in You

I will TRUST in You

When I am afraid I will TRUST in You

In Your Word I praise…

And I literally burst into tears because…MY BABY GIRL!!! And OMG I had no idea she was going to sing a solo!!! And MY BABY GIRL!!!

I will never forget that moment, as mothers do.

I will also not soon forget the wonderful woman who gave Hollie the wink and nod as she encouraged her to sing the song that she taught her. I met Eilene shortly before Hollie was born. Her calming presence coupled with her quick wit was something I couldn’t help be drawn to. As time passed, most of our time together was spent with music…so much music because we both loved music. But beyond the music there was Eilene encouraging, mentoring all with positive kindness. When I thanked Eilene for the wonderful surprise that was Hollie’s solo, she smiled and told me that she couldn’t imagine anyone else who could emphasize that we must TRUST the way that little Hollie did.

Eilene was the kind of person who led, taught, loved, encouraged by example. Always patient. Always kind.

When I was a young mother trying to balance marriage, mommy-life and career, Eilene was an example to me as a woman who successfully balanced her life as wife, mom, grandmother (which all who knew her knew she was overjoyed adding that title) and business woman. She had a busy travel agency. in San Jose…back in the day before we all could research, plan and book our own travel thanks to the interwebs. When I planned MY very first trip to Disneyland…and Hollie’s and Zoë’s…Eilene was who I turned to. She offered all kinds of advice and options that would work for our little family while we vacationed with our kindergartener and 9 month old and she created what was the most wonderful first real family vacation package for us at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, San Diego Wild Animal Park and a few other points of interest along the way. The cherry on top was the lovely, welcome to our vacation card from her waiting for us at the front desk of the hotel where we stayed during our juggling away from home adventure. Upon our return, when I thanked her for helping to plan such  wonderful family memories she smiled and thanked me back saying she just wanted it to be something special for us.

Earlier this week, after a life well lived, Eilene passed away. Naturally with someone as special as she, the tributes literally flooded my social media stream. With someone as special as she this was no surprise. I have read them all so far and have found myself even more fond of someone who truly was an example for anyone on how to live a life and truly succeed.

Blessing and love, Eilene! Thank you for your inspiration, guidance and, always, your love.

Eilene Whitt Jessup, May 16, 1936 – January 25, 2016

 

possibly the end

Years ago during what was maybe an El Pequeño Niño, I gave birth on a windy, rainy, blustery evening. Having as many kids as I do the odds had to be in my favor at least once that this would happen. And because it was the days of drive-thru deliveries, baby Abigael and I found ourselves coming home scarcely 24 hours after we met face to face for the first time…on another dark and stormy night. My darling husband easily stepped over the giant 3 foot puddle that he parked my new minivan in front of to get our new baby safely buckled in for her first ride. Naturally, I stepped right into the middle of that puddle of cold, brackish rainwater with my fuzzy socks and Birkenstocks because I had just pushed a 7 pound baby out of my vagina just 24 hours before and I was still bruised and swollen enough to not be as flexible as my darling husband imagined that I must be because

weren’t you doing all kinds of crazy downward doggie-warrior kind of yoga-y stretches right before we went to the hospital yesterday morning?

Because I was in labor, BACK LABOR and I might have hurt you were it not for that distraction!

Oh. So I guess puddle jumping is hard for you right now.

Just a little.

Maybe rain boots would have been better than Birkenstocks then.

Maybe.

Somedays he’s lucky that I love him so. That day was one of those days.

Looks like we are having a proper winter finally here in our neck of the woods. Yes, Jonas had his way with the Eastern part of the United States which many have yet to dig out from. I’ve seen all the Facebook posts. Hang in there y’all. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania and I promise you that I had experienced more than my fair share of epic snow storms of the century to dig out from whether or not the snow ploughs came by to clear the main road and block our street and driveway…and of course school was not cancelled because as long as the school superintendent can get out of his driveway it’s all good. Still I am thankful for winds and the rains and the snow piling up in the Sierra because we need all the precipitation, all of it.

So while the rains came down, down, down in and all over Northern Cali this past week I set about to be prepared because El Niño finally is here!

This just might bring on the end of El Niño.

God I hope not because I want nothing more than to jump in some puddles while wearing these sweet boots.

Peeking ahead at the extended forecast I just might get my wish.

when a nurse is handed lemons

A patient’s family handed me lemons the other day.

Literally.

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Big, fat, juicy lemons from the lemon tree in her back yard that I have big, fat, juicy plans for because when you are handed lemons…

It isn’t always making lemonade just as the lemons you are often handed aren’t usually real lemons.

Nurses are more often than not handed A LOT of lemons because when you are caring for individuals on what is often a horrible, no-good, very bad day…if not the worst day of their life…you find yourself dealing with a lot of sh…er…lemons:
patients’ problems, their family’s and friends’ problems, physicians’ and other practitioners’ problems, management problems, lab problems, pharmacy problems, radiology problems, housekeeping problems, security problems, your own family problems, aching feet, bursting bladders, raging hunger, eye-twitching headaches, computer downtime, short staffing, exhaustion…and on and on and on…

We handle it. We deal with it. It’s what we do. It’s part of our skill set; a skill set many of us come by naturally and the rest of us work very hard to cultivate and integrate into our practice. Nurses deal with it.

But nurses, just like everyone else, are human…very human. Nurses complain too. They complain sometimes about all of the above and then some. It might seem that might be all we do…to some who then shout STOP COMPLAINING ALREADY! DO SOMETHING! BE A CHANGE-MAKER! They’re right, of course. We should do something. We almost always are even if they don’t appreciate it.

Out of complaints and frustrations often comes just change as many agents of change find inspiration in their own complaints and the complaints of others. Dr. Hultquist, my Fundamentals in Nursing professor and Dean of the Nursing program I graduated from YEARS ago will be proud to know that I still recall some of the agents of change in nursing that she lectured about, all who were inspired from their own frustrations and complaints:

  • Florence Nightingale- Of course one starts with Flo when talking about change-makers in our profession! Laying down the foundations of what is today our profession, Flo was a driving force in changing the reputation of nursing and nurses.
  • Mary Breckinridge- While training and working as a nurse in post World War I Europe, she was inspired to consider that the model of care she was a part of delivering in France could be implemented in remote rural areas of the United States.  From her work as a midwife and nurse in rural Kentucky, evolved the Frontier Nursing Service.
  • Dorothea Dix- One of the pioneers of American Nurses, she became an activist for the post Civil War mentally ill helping to implement the first generation of mental health care in the United States.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney- recognized as one of the first African American women to break the color barrier graduating from nursing school. Her work through the years of her practice helped to significantly influence the elimination of racial discrimination in the registered nursing profession.
  • Virginia Avenal Henderson- Where would we be were it not for the “first lady of nursing” who helped to define the role of the modern professional nurse, “the unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge.”…Dr. Hultquist I am certain is beaming warmly that I remember this one! Her work is credited with shifting the focus of nursing research from studying nurses to studying the differences that nurses can make in people’s lives.
  • Walt Whitman- Hurray for murses like Walt Whitman! During the Civil War, Whitman spent almost all of his free time at the military hospitals caring for the wounded and ill soldiers. He tried to provide anything that the soldiers needed, bringing them food, writing letters and attending to their physical needs. Often spending his own money for supplies, he did all he could to bring them comfort. He was with many soldiers as they drew their dying breaths.
  • Florence Guiness Blake- Blake is credited with making significant contributions in pediatric nursing and family centered nursing care highlighting he importance of parent-child relationships and parental involvement in the medical care of children. 
  • Linda Richards- Recognized as the first professionally trained American nurse. Richards established nursing training programs in the United States and Japan as well as created the first system for keeping individualized medical records for hospitalized patients.

All of these individuals were great agents of change in the history of the nursing profession…and they are absolutely, certainly not alone.

Nurses and medical staff in a Colombia hospital in the 1970s, frustrated with the lack of proper, working incubators for their frail, tiny patients, as well as increased infection rates, utilized the babies own mothers providing continuous skin to skin contact which freed up caregivers as well overcrowded incubator space. The added surprising benefit was a marked increase in survival rates, decrease in nosocomial infections and respiratory disease and overall improved breastfeeding success and maternal satisfaction and confidence. From this evolved kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin care, a technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm, infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult. Kangaroo care for pre-term infants may be restricted to a few hours per day, but if they are medically stable that time may be extended. Some parents may keep their babies in-arms for many hours per day.

Nurses and practitioners in my own NICU became agents of change asking why can’t we have ZERO babies with CLABSI infections which we have managed to do for an unprecedented six years and counting. We’re mighty proud of being a part of that change that evolved from complaining and questioning.

Yes, nurses complain a lot…so it seems. But so do teachers and cops and firefighters and store clerks and hairdressers and drivers and plumbers and students and grumpy old men and mommies and…we all complain. We are a bunch of complainers. We even complain about other people complaining expecting that they will stop complaining when we complain that they should. We’re handed a bunch of lemons in our lives, in our workplace, our classroom, our homes, everwhere and we often do complain. It’s what we do after is what counts most of all.

As for me and the lemons I was handed the other night…I have this great Lemon Chicken recipe

wearing my words

Does a grown-assed woman really need daily affirmations?

Well, yeah.

Recent conversation with a family member reminded me of that especially when he insisted on calling me by the nickname that was, of course, a family term of endearment. Every time he called me c___ w____, I was reminded how the playground taunt brought home and shared at the dinner table became the family pet name for me because it’s love, Laura, nothing but love…except it wasn’t. At least for me it wasn’t. It hurt. It hurt a lot then…and (surprisingly because I am so far removed from that toxic swill most days) now. What can I say? I was emo when emo wasn’t cool which was probably why that endearment stuck and still tries to stick 45 years later.

Perhaps it isn’t so cool anymore for me to be emo…a middle aged woman like me.

Does a grown-assed woman, like me, really need to be reminded almost every day of her own personal truths?

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Sure!

My words, my personal truths look pretty amazing here on my wrist.

They’re shiny too.

 

 

I should write

I should write but…

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it’s raining and we know how everything literally SHUTS DOWN in California when it is raining.

Still, I should write…

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but I’m working on trying not to fall down whilst attempting Virabhadrasana II. Actually Warrior II isn’t so bad. It’s my creaky, older, achy joints that are the problem. Something else I can try to blame on the rain.

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I have (as always) laundry to fold…WARM, fresh out of the dryer laundry to fold before Zelda curls up on it all spreading the glitter that is cat hair ALL OVER IT because all the freshly laundered clothes are so soft and warm and purr-rect for a kitty like her to curl up in. She thinks so.

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Hollie is distracting me from writing sending me impossibly adorable pictures and videos of little ballerina girls. I should be writing but I can’t. I just can’t even!

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Plus it’s raining and my backyard is literally flooded…

I should be writing but…

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the struggle…

It’s real.