Tag Archives: youth

The Wonders of Youth and New Technologies

Victo Delore, a female physician, wrote a humorous post today offering advice to female physicians in how to achieve a fresh look with an eighteen hour rotation. Any profession of women could relate because men can literally shit, shower and shave and be prepared to meet the world.

Not true for women. There are differences in how we are perceived in the professional world.

Take a look at “Keeping Up Appearances” and see what we mean.

She made me think about my own experiences as both a nurse and a patient.

Many times I would have male nursing assistants with me and my patients constantly referred to them as the doctor. Often, asking for their opinions after I had given them mine. It was awkward.

Then came my day.

I had to have major surgery a few years ago. My female physician referred me to a female surgeon.

I was good with that.

Then I met her.

profilepic301422_1I was sitting in her office when in bopped this petite girl with long blonde hair who looked like she wasn’t a day over eighteen years. I held out my arm certain that she was about to take my blood pressure. Right? Isn’t that what the assistant always does first?

It must have been the look on my face.

She says, “Hi, I’m Jessica Vaught, M.D. I understand you are interested in the da Vinci robotics surgery. Before we get started, I’ve logged over thirty-six hundred hours on the da Vinci simulator, and performed dozens of surgeries.”

Although she was obviously trying to avail my fears, that last line conjured images of this sweet girl playing video games, maneuvering joy sticks around, and shouting, “Got that little sucker,” in an operating room theater. This was all extremely new then, and dozens just didn’t seem like enough.

When I think of ageism, I think of older people not getting jobs or being let go because of their age.

Here, I was just as guilty of ageism.

This is the real world. This is the magic of simulator training. She totally rocked.

I went home the same day and threw a party for thirty guests four days later. Never felt one minute of pain. No complications. Four tiny little scars that have faded nearly away.

The wonders of modern medicine, and youth.

Have you ever doubted a professional based on appearances?

Let’s Go Backwards and Criminalize Abortion, Again! My Story: Part Two

My disclaimer:

I know that self-disclosure can be a dangerous thing. With all that is going on in Texas, South Dakota, and other communities across the country, I feel a need to go there with a couple of personal stories. First and foremost, it is not my intent to debate right or wrong. Second, all I can really do is tell you how it was in my life. Third, pray that you don’t have to make the sorts of difficult decisions I have had to make. Finally, wish you the best possible outcome if you have faced or are facing similar circumstances, or know someone in such a situation.

Continuation from Yesterday’s Post:

It was 1978; I was not yet 18 years old, with a son not yet two years, an abusive, estranged husband in Germany, and an abortion two weeks behind me. I had spent the last two weeks sitting in the living room floor with my son in my arms, crying, and listening to Linda Ronstadt albums, over and over. Linda Ronstadt gave way to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks and slowly I began to feel less sorry for myself.

I still had my job as a nursing assistant at the local hospital, but I had spent most of my money on the abortion. I knew that I could not stay in my apartment, but I had no idea where I could go. My grandparents, a hundred miles away, were clueless to all that was going on with me. I did not feel that I should trouble them.

One night, at the hospital, I met a man, D.H., who was at the hospital because a female friend of his, A.L., had overdosed. On what, I don’t know, probably Quaaludes and Tequila, since that was the passing fancy. The drug culture was not new to me as my husband and his friends were in the thick of it before he joined the Army. It was just not something I personally imbibed, except for an occasional smoke or a very rare snort of a line…which did absolutely nothing for me. It was certainly not something I wanted my son exposed to. Yet, this man made me an offer I could not refuse.

D.H. was of Polk County Pot Plane fame. (I won’t go into the details of that, you can look it up on the web, a “B” movie was made about it [the movie is a joke, not at all how things really happened]). He had led the group who unloaded the plane and had a 75 acre pot farm hidden away in the North Georgia Mountains. D.H. was a Grizzly Adams type of guy, with long, blonde, bushy hair and beard. He ran a hippie commune in the midst of this pot farm where about forty young men and women made their home. They were mostly runaways, remnant draft dodgers, or people over eighteen who had been kicked out of their homes. Four or five of the young women had infants or toddlers. He invited me to relocate there and bring my son. All I had to do was help with the children, gardening, harvesting food and meal preparation. Being a farm girl in my youth, I thought this would work out well. My son would have playmates and I would be living the farm life again, which I had so dearly loved in my childhood.

Meanwhile, back at the apartment, I had a new neighbor, a Greek Adonis, N.K., whose friends and family owned and operated the local pizza parlor. Knowing I would be moving to this farm in the wilderness, I also knew I would have to give up my job at the hospital. I had no transportation, and while a few of the men had vehicles, I could not depend on them for a regular ride to my work. This guy, N.K., promised me a job as a waitress, paid in cash every Friday, plus keeping my tips daily. Most significantly, he would pick me up and drive me to work every day. I would only be working evenings from 4pm until 10 pm Thurs. and Sun. and 4pm to 2am Fri and Sat. I had promise of cash and a ride. I also had built in babysitters for my son.

I acclimated to life on the farm/commune quite well. I would get up and bake biscuits every morning served with grits, eggs, ham and sausage. We had goats, pigs, a couple of cows, and chickens. The vegetable garden was plentiful. We made jellies and jams from wild berries. The kids all stayed together with their toys in a huge playpen we had constructed outside and two smaller ones inside. The women, with flowers in hair, running around in tie-dyed maxi dresses, blue jeans and sandals, attended to each other’s children as needed. We were rainbow colors dancing rings around the sun.

Evenings, all would gather on a huge Asian rug in the living room in a circle on the floor, pass around the pipe, and talk about the day’s events or what was planned for the next day, listening to Marshall Tucker, CSN&Y, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger or whatever tunes we happened across. Fluorescent posters papered the walls of the old farm house, lit by black lights and strobes. We had a pet raccoon, named Rocky, and two flying squirrels that would join us. Though not ideal, I did feel safe. I did not; however, feel that I or my son had any sort of future there.

My new found friend, N.K., would come inside the house with us on those weekend nights that he drove me home from work. He was exotic, tall, dark and handsome, speaking with a thick Greek accent. I was all of 5’ 4 1/2”, 100 pounds soaking wet, had long blonde hair that I sat on, and bright green eyes. I must have seemed exotic to him. My commune friends were suspicious (and perhaps a bit jealous). N.K. drove a black on black, brand new Trans Am. One night, a couple of guys from the commune were busted in the parking lot of the pizza parlor and my friends were sure N.K. had something to do with it, but I doubted it. Needless to say, I was not trusted anymore.

N.K. vehemently denied any involvement, and I believed him. After all, he informed me that he was planning to move to NYC with his partner to open a Greek restaurant in Jamaica Bay. He offered me to join them. I didn’t know, at the time, that he was deeply entrenched with the Greek mafia. That is something I learned a thousand miles from my home and a month later. All I knew at the time is that I was promised a job in the new restaurant. N.K. also assured me that he had connections in NY that could get me a modeling job. With some hope for a future, I left my son in the care of his grandparents, and struck out for NYC.

Friend is a dangerous word in some circles. I won’t go into the details here, but I will say that his plans for me did NOT include a modeling job. At seventeen, I was merely a charm on his arm to various functions and parties in wait of my 18th birthday, which would be November 15th. N.K., and his friends, who were brothers, S.N. and L.N., and their wives, were busy setting up the new restaurant.

N.K. had secured an apartment in what was once an old bank. It was two stories. The upper rooms were stocked with evening gowns, cocktail dresses, shoes, accessories and makeup. There was only one door in or out of the large apartment. N.K. bolted it locked when he left for the restaurant every day. There was a vault in the old building that once housed a safe. The safe was no longer there, but the space had been converted into a well secured closet. The closet housed guns and drugs. My job was to guard these, call N.K. if anything suspicious occurred, and to escort the entourage of beautiful women who came and went to the upper rooms all day and all night to change clothes. These women had keys, and I didn’t. Where they went every evening, I did not ask.

One day about noon, I was sitting in the living room reading a book when I heard scratching at the front door. At first, I thought it was one of the girls who had forgotten her key. Now, it was November and already cold and windy, but there were no tree branches near that door. Then, the scratching again. I was dead bolted inside this apartment with no way out, … or so I thought. Then I heard “Ayuda! Ayuda!” There was a Peurto Rican village on one side of our Greek village and a Mexican village on the other. These were the first words I learned in Spanish, long before I learned to count.

I tried to peer out the barred window, but I could see nothing. Again, I heard, “Ayudame! Ayudame!” louder, pleading, crying. A knock at the door, timid at first, and then forceful.

I put my book down and, on a whim, tried the door. It opened, and into my arms fell a young girl. She had long black hair and large brown eyes. Her eyes were screaming with fear, yet glazed and reddened from crying. Her face was pale and dry, no tears. Unable to hold her, we both went to the ground. Her head lay in my lap. Her lips were blue. She was larger than me, but could have been my age, a young woman, not more than twenty years. She could have been younger. Her blue jeans were wet and black, soaked with blood. A pool of blood at her feet, and a trail behind her to the sidewalk and beyond. Her breath was in gasps. Her pulse was fast and thready. I had to let her go to call for help. Amazingly, people were passing on the sidewalk, and no one bothered to help at all. They glanced in our direction as if to say, “Looks bad, but not my problem,” as they stepped around the bright red sidewalk mess.

I left her there in the doorway. I made a call to the operator and asked for an ambulance. My fear, though not as great as hers, was that the police would come and find the closet. A fleeting, selfish thought. N.K. and I would go to jail. It was not something I could dwell on long. This girl was dying. Already, she slipped out of consciousness, eyes closed, limp as a dishrag. I knelt beside her and held her in my arms, brushing her hair from her face with my face, and begging her to hold on. Her skin was cold against mine. I felt her spirit leave her body. I knew she was not going to make it. She was barely breathing when the medics arrived, along with the police.

They carted her off on a stretcher and into an ambulance. She was somebody’s child, somebody’s sister, she was somebody; perhaps, a mother, like me. The questions from the authorities came like rapid gunfire. Was she alone? Did I see which way she came from? Did she say her name? Had I seen her before? Did I know her? Did she get out of a vehicle? How long had she been there? Did she say anything else at all? They repeated the same questions a dozen times and all I could say was what little I knew. They took photographs. They walked all around the building. Then they left. No one asked to come inside.

I cleaned up the blood all the way to the sidewalk, and followed the trail, as the police had, to the parking lot behind the building, where it disappeared. I called N.K. on the phone and told him what had happened.  He was furious with me that I had opened the door, and more so with himself for having left it unlocked. “She could have died on our doorstep!” I exclaimed.

The next day, N.K. made sure to dead bolt the door. About 10:00 am a couple came to the door, a man and a woman. They identified themselves as detectives from some task force. I could not open the door to let them in, so I spoke to them through the door. They asked me the same questions I had been asked the previous day. They told me the girl had died. She died at 5:00 pm, alone in a hospital, another statistic. Yes, it is always 5:00 somewhere. She had suffered a traumatic botched abortion. They believed by her pimp, or some John. Who knows? It could have been a “friend” trying to help her out of a bad situation. These were common deaths back then, not even noted in the news. She was known in the neighborhood as a street girl, Maria, like so many other Marias. No last name. Maria Doe. Just another whore. Who knows why? Somebody’s child. Perhaps, somebody’s mother.

God only knows why that door wasn’t bolted on this particular day. God only knows what life He saved Maria from, what life Maria saved me from. Or why?

Why did I find that ledger in 1992 stuck between two torn down walls?

This is from where comes some of the passion to tell the story in Red Clay and Roses.

This was 1978, just four years after Roe versus Wade, two years before I started nursing school.

The title of yesterday’s and today’s post is sarcastic. Of course, I can’t possibly imagine criminalizing abortion again. It would not stop the practice. It would only create more criminals, cause more pain and suffering.

I can’t condone abortion used indiscriminately and irresponsibly as contraception. I can support a potential parent’s right to decide and choose if they are ready to be responsible and committed to raising a child. For the child’s sake, if for no other reason.

If you want to know the rest of the story, you will have to wait until I get around to writing the memoir, autobiography, or roman à clef.

Teaser: I spent the latter part of my eighteenth birthday night naked in Central Park, near Fifth Avenue, close to the zoo, hiding behind a trash can and my hair until rescued by a soul man with a huge afro named George, and his woman, Ernestine, in a big, shiny, black Cadillac who took me to K-Mart to buy clothes. I made it back home to LaGrange, Georgia, by way of the Cayman Islands. It’s a long story.

The Grandmother Journal: Part One

summer crossstitch

Cross Stitch by Renee

I will not have much of an online presence this weekend.  I would like to get my first project imported to Scrivener.  Tomorrow I will be babysitting the six month old grandson while Mama and Daddy take the three your old granddaughter to see The Ice Princesses Show for a few hours.  Sunday, I am traversing southward to Melbourne, FL with a girlfriend to visit some seaside parks.   The husband is off this weekend to West Palm Beach with his son and a friend to attend a car parts swap meet of some sort (that involves camping) concerning his son’s “72” Mustang.  I won’t pretend to know what that is all about.

Knowing that I will be home with the grandson by myself, without an extra pair of hands to help out, I am reminded of raising my own kids.  I had no physical help with that. Their Dad was at work and their grandparent’s involvement was limited. There were no aunts or uncles close by.  Most of my cousins were involved in their own lives.  There were five years differences in my children’s ages.  There were three of them and it was like a three ring circus.  I know you people with four to nine are laughing and saying, “Man, could I tell her a thing or two!”  I believe you, too.

My oldest son stuffed nasturtium seeds up his nostrils when he was two, and I didn’t notice until they had germinated in his head.  He started having trouble breathing. Several days later I watched in the ER as the Doc pulled them out roots and all.  My daughter, who was always spraining something, fell off of the trampoline and hurt her arm.  Not wanting to bother with another trip in for x-rays only to be told, “Just a sprain.”  I packed her in ice and put her to bed. The next day, the arm was swollen.  Took her in for x-rays…it was broken.  The youngest son, fell from his swing to rip his leg open on a protruding screw.  Never cried.  Happened to see him, and the blood.  Put a pressure dressing on it and took him to the ER…16 stitches behind the knee.

At fifty plus years, I know now why God gives children to the young.  My eyesight and hearing are not as acute as they once were.  My reflexes are a bit slower.  It takes time for me to respond to things that I was once quick to react to.  I want to be mothering but not smothering. That worries me sometimes as a grandmother. But should it?

My mother’s mother, we’ll call her Grandma, was a worrier.  She fed us from cans and TV dinners served in little tin trays.  She lived in a small town and watched us like a hawk.  She never let us out of her sight.  Whether we were in the den or on the porch, there she was, hovering.  If we went out, she had us by the hand.  She would never take more than two of us (there were six granddaughters) on at a time by herself.  She was divorced and there was no Grandpa to lend a helping hand.  She stayed on the telephone or watched television with one eye while the other eye watched us.  She was a nervous person. She chained smoked. If we were within 20 feet of the street, she called us back.  If we got dirty, she made a fuss over cleaning us up.  We followed rigid rules in her house.  She never spanked us, but had a way with words that could make you feel guilty whether you were or not.

My father’s mother, we’ll call her Grandmother, never gave us much of a thought, other than to see to it that we were well fed.  She was the best cook in the county and always had sweets on the table, homemade cupcakes and cookies in the jar.  We snacked when we wanted.  There were sodas and sweet tea in the fridge and ice cream sandwiches in the freezer. She lived on a large farm with my grandfather out in the country.  She opened the door and we went wherever, to ride the horses, through the woods, down to the pond, across the pasture to the creek to swing on the muscadine vines. There were eleven of us, and it didn’t matter if there was one or eleven, she seemed to get on with her farm life with hardly a notice to us.  She ran a landscaping nursery with greenhouses and we would pull weeds for a quarter per row.  Grandfather would take us to the little country store to spend it. Getting dirty was expected, and meant that she would be pulling out the #3 washtub for cleanup at sunset.  Television was the midday siesta time when the soaps were on and the heat outside was too hot to work in, with her hands busy snapping beans or shelling peas, or evenings with Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw.  She was up before dawn and usually still awake after midnight writing letters to family.  There were no real rules, but there were expectations.  If expectations weren’t met, you could plan on the hickory switch coming off of the mantel.

I raised my children on a farm.  They hated it when they were younger because all of their friends from their private school in the nearby city lived in suburbia.  They watched shows like “Wonder Years” with resentment.  Once they matured, they were most grateful for having had the experience of farm life.  They recall with fondness their liberties and responsibilities.

I live in a big city now, and my grandchildren are right here just a few city blocks away.  My daughter’s home is behind an office complex that sits on a busy five lane city street, and I worry…like Grandma that the toddler is going to find her way out there.  I also try…like Grandmother to make certain I have special treats and activities on hand.  We don’t have the luxury of farm life anymore, and it was a luxury, though we did not realize it at the time.  We have less than a half-acre with a pool and a shop, and while the pool and shop warrant attention, I am trying to be less like Grandma and more like Grandmother.

We do fun stuff like go to the city parks, theme parks, and beaches whenever we can, but I like to have Mama with me.  The six month old is easy.  Play with him, carry him around, feed him, diaper him, rock him, put him to sleep, and hope I hear him when he wakes up before he is roaring angry or frightened to tears.  The toddler is a different story.  While she does well to engage herself with the iPad and TV, she also demands a lot of 1:1 interaction.  We make cookies, read books, paint pictures, play games; do sand art and other crafts.  We don’t have a hickory switch (or even a mantel), but we have popped her butt a couple of times. Once, when she deliberately stomped my dog’s foot, and again, when she threw a rock at Grandpa’s hard top convertible Mercedes.  Mama did not like that we did.  She has rules in my house but they are not so very rigid.  All I have to do is ask her if she wants her butt popped and she immediately apologizes for whatever she was about to do or did.  Her responsibilities at Grandmother’s house include particular little chores that she is praised or rewarded for, and she is eager to commence with them whenever she visits.

As many of you know, my mother died young and I was raised, in part, by my grandparents.  I consider my time with my grandchildren a gift.  I can only hope and pray that they will look back on their time spent with me fondly.  I loved both my grandma and grandmother, and I am sure that they both loved me in their own ways.  I know that I love my grandchildren.  I want to be a Grandmother to be respected and admired.  I am going to stop worrying about it, and just be who I am.