Sometimes it is so easy for me to lose sight of the big picture. When the homework starts piling up and the tests start coming, there are days when I feel like just giving up. “The work is too hard. I’m not smart enough for this. I CAN’T DO THIS.” Those are statements I’ve repeated constantly over the past year and a half.
Why am I working so hard to get into the medical field? Why do I even want to pursue a career as a nurse?
If I couldn’t give you an answer to these questions confidently, I can tell you right now I would’ve given up a long time ago. The beautiful thing is that every time I start second-guessing my choice or think about giving up, all I have to do is think back to what it was that sparked my passion to become a nurse. Here’s a little bit of my story:
In November of 1998, my grandma passed away. I don’t remember too much about my grandma because I was only 6 years old. Her name was Edith, and from pictures I’ve seen and the vague memories I do have, she was beautiful. My mom has her smile. My grandma loved God with her entire heart and trusted Him through so much, including her battle with cancer. I know this personally because for my 16th birthday my mom gave me all of my grandma’s old devotional journals as a gift. They have become precious treasures to me. I am able to use my Grandma’s journals to learn more about what faith is and how we can stay strong in our faith even in difficult circumstances. Through her journals I am also able to see how real God was to her and how big her love for Him and for other people was. Even though I don’t remember too much about her, I know that she thought the world of my sister and I. I know I will see her again someday.
After she passed away in 1998, my poppy came to live with us.
My grandpa’s health quickly declined after my grandma died, and so my mom had a lot of added responsibility around the house. While raising 2 kids and taking care of her own dad, my mom also went to college and earned her bachelor’s degree. (I don’t know how she did it! She’s pretty much incredible.) Poppy loved puzzles, drawing, reading, walking the dog, listening to Johnny Cash, watching John Wayne movies, and eating. Oh, he loved eating! I was his little buddy. We did everything together. He would always call me “Lori” because I looked so much like my mom when she was younger. I didn’t mind though, it always made me laugh.
After living with us for a while, his health began to decline further and he moved into a nursing home. It was so difficult for us all but we didn’t have the ability to give him the care he needed from our home.
In 2006 his heath declined severely, and he was moved into Hope Hospice’s care. I don’t remember exactly what happened, I just remember that it all happened so quickly. As my mom explained to me what was going on, she has a peace about her that let me know everything we going to be okay. We got in the car and drove over to Hope Hospice. When we got there they already had a room for poppy. The nurses were so amazing. They explained to us what was going on and told us that if we needed anything at all they were there for us. They also told us that poppy only had a couple days left and his condition was worsening. They told us that he was weak and wouldn’t be able to talk. I didn’t know what to expect when we opened the door and went in the room.
Somehow, even in this situation, my mom managed to amaze me with her strength. She pulled a chair up next to poppy’s bed, grabbed his hand, and began talking to him. She told him stories upon stories about memories she had from her childhood. She talked a lot about grandma. She told him he was a great dad and that she loved him. She smiled. She even told him stories about her teenage years that would’ve gotten her into a lot of trouble if he knew about it when it happened! As she told him a story about yellow roller skates I just I sat back and watched in admiration as this woman, who already lost her mom, sat by her dad’s side as he struggled to stay alive.
Soon my sister did the same. She pulled another chair up to poppy’s side and began talking to him. She said, “Come on, poppy! Show me a smile.” A grin came across his face. I could tell it took a lot of strength for him to smile, but he did it. It was genuine. Poppy was always smiling.
I tried to follow the example of my mom and talk to poppy, but I didn’t know what to say. I just wanted to be there with him. I didn’t leave his side for so long. I held his hand a lot, and adjusted his oxygen mask when he looked uncomfortable. I listened as my mom talked to him. I chimed in with a story every once in a while. I kept telling myself that he would get better. I’ve seen him sick before and he got better so I thought that this time wouldn’t be any different. But before long I realized this time was different. I felt like I was losing a huge part of me.
As my dad was getting ready to take my sister and I home I looked at my mom and knew I couldn’t leave. I asked her if I could stay the night with her and poppy and she said yes. I wanted to be there. I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone.
That night, my mom and I spent more precious time with my grandpa. My mom read him Scripture passages, we sang to him, and we continued telling stories. We played a CD of hymns for him and we know he must’ve liked it because every once in a while a smile would come over his face. Even during my grandpa’s last hours with us I was comforting him and assisting the nurses as much as I could. The nurses at Hope Hospice were paying attention to how I interacted with my grandpa and told my parents that I had a God-given gift. My mom wanted us to try to get some sleep. I sat in a chair on one side of his bed, while my mom sat on the other. We each held one of his hands. I didn’t get too much sleep and I’m sure my mom didn’t either.
When morning came my mom told me my dad was coming to pick me up so I could go to school. I was angry. I didn’t want to go to school! I wanted to be with my grandpa. At the same time, I knew my mom probably needed time by herself. She told me I could come right back as soon as school got out. When my dad pulled up I said goodbye to poppy and told him I’d see him later. My dad dropped us off at school and then drove right back to Hope Hospice to be with my mom.
I was sitting in Geometry class after lunch when I saw my parents walk into the school. I’m sure Gus doesn’t remember this, but he was in class with me when this happened. As soon as I saw them I started tearing up. I can’t remember what happened, all I know is I went out to meet them in the lobby and I lost it. They took my sister and I into an empty class room and we all just cried. There weren’t any words. At first, there didn’t have to be. There were just hugs and tears.
After a little while, my mom pulled my face towards hers and smiled. She thanked me for being with him through the night and for being so strong. Then she told me that when I left the nurses came in to check poppy’s temperature. He had a fever of 106. 106! At that point, they were shocked he was still alive. They had never seen a fever that high before. Poppy was holding on until I left.
My mom still had this peace about her. I didn’t understand it. She told me she wanted to tell me exactly what happened when I left. I didn’t want to hear it. All I knew was that my grandpa was gone. God took him from me and it wasn’t fair. But my mom started telling me what happened anyway.
After the nurses took his temperature, they knew at any time he would pass away. So my mom put the CD of hymns on and skipped to the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” She held my poppy’s hand and sang to him. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” As my mom sang these words to my grandpa, he took his last breaths here on earth and entered into eternity with his Savior.
My grandfather changed my life. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to help care for him in his last hours on earth. God used this circumstance in my life to show me what I wanted to do. I know if poppy were here today he would be proud of me and the decision I’ve made to pursue nursing.
When you feel like giving up, don’t forget to look at the big picture. Things might be so difficult and you feel like you’re in over your head but God is in control and He has a plan. His plan is perfect, and He wants what’s best. He can use the storms you go through in life to teach you some of the biggest lessons you’ll learn.
“Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t stop, continue on. The Master whispers till the day of Christ. Keep going uphill, learning and growing till perfection.”
– Edith Tally