In case I haven't gotten the point across in old posts - I have two true heroes in my life. Two of the best friends that a man could ask for. The fact that I am a direct result of them getting naked and playing a little game of Pickle Tickle does give me pause, but I try and push that thought out of my head. My folks, James and Elaine Derby, are everything to me, even though I am quite sure that I haven't said it enough.
On May 26th, my darling mother, retires. A pediatric nurse of over 40 years, she embodies exactly what is right with that profession. Forget the arguements over PPO's vs. HMO's - it is people like her that make you feel safe at a time when you are the most concerned, and have a smile even while delivering the worst of news. I can't be there in Indiana for her party, so I wrote a little something that my father will read to her and their guests. I hope it gets the point across to her.
"I remember a time, years ago back in Indianapolis, when I worked a 14 hour shift at the restaurant. I had left the building the night before – no wait, make it that same morning – at about 6 AM. I went home, made some eggs, took about a four hour nap, and jumped in the shower so I could be back by noon. The restaurant was at capacity from the moment I walked in the door, to the instant I locked it back up. My bartender walked up to me with a bewildered look on her face after, and asked one question; “How the hell do you do it?”.
The answer was easy – whatever the restaurant needed me for, I found a way to do it. When it came to work, no matter the job, I was lucky, and always excelled in whatever I was doing.
And there is a reason for that – I was raised by two people who personified the term ‘work ethic’. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if you looked up the term in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Elaine Derby right under the definition, hiding her face like she does in almost every picture. Or one of James Derby, raising one finger toward the camera….
But my darling mother – she was an inspiration to me my entire life. To this day, I have never met anyone who put their heart and soul into their profession more than her. It never mattered what happened during the course of any work day – she came home with extra energy, a special reserve that she kept for her loved ones. In a day and age when professional athletes will sit out a game because they have a hangnail, and Beverly Hills debutantes create empires with nothing more than a Chihuahua in their purse and a complete lack of underwear beneath their skirt – my mother dealt with pure hell and came home with a smile, so that her children never saw her defeated.
So on this day Mom, I want you to look back. Look back at all of the years of parents screaming at you, patients throwing up on you, and – pardon me – dumb shit ‘Head Nurses’ barking orders to you in front of other people, only to take you aside when no one was looking so they could ask your advice on how to do their jobs properly. Remember that you did it the right way. Ironically, you put the kids first, and always had to deal with the babies after – them being most of the adults you worked with on a given day.
When you look back on your career, remember how after 20 years those children you took care of, now adults, would come back to the hospital and thank you. Remember the smiles on those kid’s faces when they came to after surgery, only to see that familiar face that gave them the courage to go in to that room in the first place. And remember the effect you had on your own flesh and blood, molding them by example into the (mostly) responsible people that they are today. If I am to ever be a parent (a long shot, I know), I have one goal, to adhere to the values that you set and do my best to raise the bar even higher. I have said this before, but you have never heard it - everything I was; everything that I am; everything that I will strive to be in my own life – it is because of you and your role as ‘caregiver’. Not just as a nurse and mother, but as a friend and role model. I love you so much, and can’t wait to meet the woman you will be in your retirement.
So for the first time in your adult life, lady, relax. Watch a movie, smell the flowers, and enjoy your grandchildren. And do your best not to kill Dad in the first two weeks. Go have another glass of wine – and remember, in those times when you feel lazy and worthless (yes, I know you and how you think), that every single day that your son and daughter exist, your life’s work is still putting in a full day. I would give anything to be there with you today.
I love you, Mom."