I remember the VA nurses, usually kind and sincere unlike the doctors who blew through the room and seemed to scoff at questions. Who would have the audacity to speak in the presence of the almighty doctor? In 2006, when my dad spent a length of time at the VA hospital, the night staff would take the time to speak to me about my life, goals, whatever. I recall one nurse who made the evening rounds in the first or second room my dad occupied, who put up with a rude gentleman who shared my dad’s room in a bed next to the window. She dealt with him gracefully while lending a sympathetic ear to me. As she left the room to continue her rounds, she put her hand on mine and gave it a squeeze.
Driving back and forth from where I was staying to my dad’s nursing home, I would alternate my route, sometimes to avoid the interstate, other times because I enjoyed driving through the country towns and the open expanse of fields. I had another long day getting my dad settled into the nursing home. He wasn’t happy about being there even in his somewhat hallucinogenic state. Yet, he told me he was proud of me while I was standing there writing his name in permanent marker on his clothes. The hour drive gave me pause from dealing with people for a little while but it never helped to de-stress. By the time I got home I would sit on the sofa, turn on the television and just stare.