I’ve met some nurses in my day. Nurses are a force of nature. I say this having worked with untold numbers of the species, and most important by being raised by one of them. My first memories of any nurse at all were of my own mother in her white, starched nurse’s uniform with white shoes, stockings and cap. Yes, I’m old enough to remember nursing caps.

I remember that she worked a great deal, and that despite her schedule, and despite the fatigue that often left her unconscious on the couch (or semi-conscious, which was way more fun), she always gave me time and took care of me. She kept me healthy in the days when my childhood respiratory illnesses were treated by prayer, humidifiers and in the end, oxygen tents. She kept me fed when she barely had time to eat. And she kept me comfortable, safe and inspired with her constant, open and unreserved affection and encouragement. And when she could, or when I asked, she bought me little things; an action figure, a matchbox car, the sorts of things that cost so little but mean so much to the heart of a child.

Little did I know she was watching me and looking far into the future. Mom was, it seems, a little bit of a prophetess; like all good mothers, I suppose. As my years rolled along, she always spoke highly of me, to me. She saw good in me; she saw the promise of what I could be, and reminded me of what I should be. And, when I went to college with the intention of being a journalist, she waited patiently for my boredom to develop, then pounced like a cat in a starched white hat. Those fateful words…’you know, Edwin, I think you’d make a good doctor.’ The were well-timed and well-aimed.
I hadn’t even tried to accomplish anything that required science. My high-school C in chemistry was a combination of good writing skills, minimal interest, an engaging personality, prayer and a very tolerant chemistry teacher.

So, imagine my surprise when I agreed with her. Or at least, agreed to try. So I began taking science classes; chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, physics, and all the rest. Imagine my further surprise when I…gasp…did well! She sat back, smiling, I suspect. She saw it all along.

My mother took care of me in the beginning of my life, and by watching me, knowing me, shaping me and loving me, she ultimately enabled me to take care of myself, my wife and my children later in life as I entered medical school, residency and practice.

The good mother, my mom took the stone and the pond, cast the stone in and knew long before that the ripples would be good ones, not destructive. I don’t know if she realized the other effects. If not, I’ll explain. See, over the years, I have helped thousands of people of all ages. I have saved some lives, prolonged some lives, closed some wounds, protected some airways, found care for the mentally ill, helped the abused and tried my best to be a man of Godly character in my workplace, so that others would feel safe and happy as co-workers.

But there’s more. I returned, if not to journalism, to writing. My mother’s prediction of my future landed me in medicine and thereby gave me a wealth of topics for writing, and a rich look into the hearts, minds and bodies of mankind. The sort of thing that writers, to be proper writers, need so very much to have. Hemingway was of the mind that war was the best education for a writer. If it is, then medicine is surely second best. That was another gift of the direction my mother sent me off into as an adult.

She encouraged my faith and prayers, my devotion to church and scripture, and taught me that vital lesson, that all men must learn in order to be truly good…the lesson of kindness. And that lesson helped find me a wife, who gave me children, and my mother grandchildren, and a wife who is even now watching and molding our children as my mother molded and watched me.

So, to all mothers, thank you. And to Sharon Leap, my nurse mother, who like all good nurses knows how to manipulate doctors (present and future), thank you. Thank you for the gifts that made me who I am. And thank you from all the lives I’ve been able to touch as a physician, writer and most importantly as a husband and father.

You’re the best!


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