In my spam folder the other day, there was this: “Are you looking to accelerate your nursing career and shape the future of healthcare?”
I’ve had a career in nursing? Hey, I’m 85 and don’t remember things as well as I used to. I seem to recall I spent more than 40 years in newsrooms. Nursing and journalism do have a few things in common, including lots of lousy hours and eating and sleeping at unnatural times of the day. During my overnight shifts (midnight to 8 a.m. or thereabouts), I had breakfast before heading to work and dinner—meat and potatoes-- when I got home around 9:30 a.m.
Nurses have to deal with a number of cranky people known as patients. Same goes for newsroom editors and producers working with difficult people known as anchors or writers. And there’s hand-holding in both professions. Nurses do it to comfort folks. Editors do it to try to get anchors and writers to put solid stories on the air or in print.
So far I’ve avoided any discussion of what must be the highlight of medical school for some would-be nurses—catheters. How do you learn to do that? Whom or is it who do you practice on? Here again, good nurses and good journalists have something in common. When an editor working with an anchor or writer who’s always looking for an argument, devises a means of defusing and calming that person down—in other words taking the piss and vinegar out of him---is that not a form of catheterization?
I guess maybe the next time someone asks me what I used to do ages ago, I’ll say I was a journalist AND a nurse.
(Posted June 3, 2023)
Letter To Jim McCoy
My older brother, Jim McCoy, a retired Southern Baptist minister, died March 3, 2023. He was 88 and had lived for years in Missouri.
March 8, 2023
You’re in Heaven now I guess, but you had a hell of a funeral yesterday. Mark (son-in-law) gave a moving tribute to your devotion to reading and to baseball and to trying to persuade people to let Jesus into their lives.
He also told the delightful story about you meeting your wife in the Yellow Pages. When you were in the Army (and stationed at Fort Tilden, I believe), you opened the Yellow Pages, looking for a church that had evening Sunday services. You found one—Mark didn’t say where—and when you walked in Ruthanne saw you, pointed and said “Who’s that tall guy?” The two of you were married for 63 years.
One of your great granddaughters told the crowd how much she loved you and how many good memories she has of being with you. She had a little trouble getting started with this, and a couple of ladies went up to the podium to comfort her—a Christian act if I do say so. Reverend McCoy, you have a flock of good-looking granddaughters and great granddaughters. One of the granddaughters, her husband and another young lady sang a song and did a good job.
The minister of the New Hope Baptist Church presided. The Reverend David Ray read your obituary that appeared in a Columbia, Missouri newspaper. When he got to the list of survivors and came across Ruthanne’s maiden name—Grimm with two “ms” —he said “There is nothing grim about Ruthanne. She’s lively and always smiling.” It got a good laugh.
I spoke and talked about the baseball diamond you created out of an empty field at the fairgrounds near our house and how cows grazed there at times so our second base was often a dry cow patty and you didn’t have to step on it or slide into it. Laura (daughter) gave me a hug when I finished. Maybe she was just relieved I didn’t use any swear words. Laura also spoke and led the mourners in one of your favorite songs.
The turnout of people was impressive. It included the doctor (or was he a dentist?) Ruthanne worked for, a man who valued her work so much he paid for you and Ruthanne to go to Hawaii, twice I believe.
Nicholas, my grandson, made the trip with me and drove from the St. Louis airport to Columbia where we spent the night in a Doubletree Hotel. Do you know why some hotels have two shower heads in their bathtubs? Are these for use by Siamese twins?
Columbia is a handsome town. Why did you never brag about your next door neighbor? I bought breakfast at the hotel yesterday for Sherrilyn (sister), Mark (her husband), Margie (niece), and Nick and myself. That was five of us and three of us had omelets. When the waitress brought the bill, I told her it couldn’t be right—only $57. She said it was. Wow, oh, wow. Both Margie and Nick pointed out, twice each, that I had cheese from the omelet on my chin. Heck, I was just getting my money’s worth. .
After the funeral service, many folks came up to Ruthanne, in tears, and hugged her long and hard. Nicholas and I didn’t go to your burial. We needed to get back to the St. Louis airport for a number of reasons.
I realize you’ve been there only a few days, but tell me: Are there forms to fill out before they let you in? Can you have a Twitter account in Heaven? If you have access to our TV down here, please tell me neither the View nor Tucker Carlson is available there? If the answer is yes, they aren’t, Praise the Lord. One last question, Mark and others mentioned in their remarks how you liked to eat, so how’s the food?
P.S. As you know, I’m not religious (a big disappointment to you), but as I left the house Saturday morning to go to the gym the classical music station I listen to was playing “Amazing Grace,” just a piano performing the song, no singing. It was beautiful, and I thought of you.
(Posted March 9, 2023)
If you have a grandkid 16 years old or younger, you should never visit an ice cream parlor without them. Trust me. Your chances of having an “adventure” skyrocket with them along.
We took our youngest granddaughter, Cristiana, to lunch recently, one of the last days of her school break. After lunch, we headed to an ice cream place a couple of blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. It was a chilly day, so I suggested that Cristiana go inside and not wait for her aging grandparents to waddle in.
When Irene and I entered the store, Cristiana had taken up a position near the ices counter. She’s big on ices and like her mother, Deena, seems to delight in making complicated orders with several (make that 17) flavors.
While the older man who I think owns the store was dipping away to fill Cristiana’s order, she asked, “Is this a family-owned business?” “Yes,” the man said.
Irene at this point had given her ice cream order (maple walnut) to a young boy who was digging with all his might in a bucket of ice cream under the glass counter. He kept piling scoop after scoop into what the shop calls a medium cup. When he was done, he put it on the counter and said, “Here’s your holy cannoli.” Irene replied, “I didn’t order that. I asked for maple walnut.” The two flavors were side-by-side in the ice cream case.
The boy didn’t know how to handle this and the older man—I’m guessing his grandfather—took charge. He put a lid on the cup of holy cannoli and left it under the refrigerated counter. After ten seconds or so, I said, “I’ll take that. It’s all ready, so I’ll take it.” The man said in a friendly tone, “No you won’t. You’ll get what you want.” He then started using a dipper to strong-arm some maple walnut into a cup for Irene. As he was doing this, I asked, “Is this a family-owned business?” He chuckled but kept scooping.
The boy asked me what I wanted and I walked to another part of the display case and pointed at what I think was a flavor, created by the Devil, called dark fudge chocolate.
Way before any of this had happened, Cristiana, who turns 16 late this summer, had asked for a cup of vanilla bean ice cream to take home to her sister Daniella. Not thinking the man had heard her, the words “vanilla bean” came out of her mouth a second time three or four minutes later.
When it was time to pay, the man took the cup of holy cannoli and put it in our bag and said it was free. He also, the best I can make out, didn’t charge us for the second cup of vanilla bean. To recap: the three of us left the place with five cups of ice cream or ice and only paid for three.
We sat in the car eating away while looking at clever signs in the store window. They included: “Dinosaurs didn’t eat ice cream. Look at what happened to them.”
The medium portions were so big both Irene and I only ate half of our ice cream in the car, taking the remainder home for enjoying after dinner. An afternoon later I got a text from Cristiana: “Holy cannoli is scrumptious.” Irene and I agreed our ice cream was delicious.
We can’t wait for Cristiana’s next school break and hope she’ll want to make a return visit with us.