Proms, perms, and Aqua Net

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” —Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Ahhh, the 80’s.   Do you remember them?  They were glorious.  Permed hair teased as high as Aqua Net would take it, stone-washed jeans, all the great hair bands, neon colored anything, mohawks and mullets , CD’s and walkmans….the world was a happier place.  We listened to Reagan as the wall came down, we cried when the Challenger exploded, and we lived out the last of the cold war.  As a teenager, I can well remember how we rocked “Born in the USA”  along with Springsteen for all the world to hear.

And then there was high school.  Its own little world, its own hierarchy system.  Were you the basket case, the brain, the princess, the criminal, or the athlete? Which clique did you hang out with? Did you love it or hate it?  During my senior year, I was the brainy nerd dating the class clown.  It made for some interesting memories in my small town.   When they announced us Prom King and Queen, I about fell over dead.  And because I was a nerd, I was instantaneously so anxious, I could barely walk to the front to enjoy my moment.  Flash forward 30 years…I’ve already seen my daughter live through her Breakfast Club days.  Now it’s my son who’s a junior in high school, living out his own version of the Wonder Years.  He’s quiet, sticks to a small crowd, just the average kid in FFA and shop class in western Oklahoma.  He drives a dependable car, works after school at a small engine repair shop, and is headed in the right direction in life.  You’ll miss out on his dry wit and sarcastic humor unless you’re privileged enough to be close family or friend.  Then he cuts loose.  And does so in spades. I marvel at him, this son of mine.  He’s so different from me, yet he’s the closest to me personality-wise out of my three kids.

This past weekend was his junior prom.  I was shocked when he announced he was going.  He hates social events, especially the more formal ones.  As prom planning approached, he had told me he was going with a group of friends which would make it easier on him.  Knock me over with a feather.  Fast forward and imagine my surprise when I found out he was taking a date.  This is new.  This is very, very new.  This is a side of my son I’ve never seen before.  Even more surprising, it’s a blind date, set up by a mutual friend.  What just happened?  Did I miss something?  Did he magically grow wings and start to fly?  Did someone kidnap him and replace him with a lookalike?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic for him.  But this is so far from his norm, I’m in shock.  We are in uncharted waters here.  But hey, I’m a proud momma, so let’s fancy this boy up and send him to prom! I do have to say, it’s about a million times easier helping a 17 yr old boy get ready for prom then it was my 17 yr old girl. No drama, no fuss.  The only thing you have to decide is if you want the super-expensive slim cut tux, or the just-as-expensive regular cut tux.   And in western Oklahoma, it’s a given you’ll be trading out the formal wear shoes for your best pair of black cowboy boots.  And of course, he’s a boy, so he is tasked with finding the coolest ride possible to deliver his date to the promenade at the beginning of prom.  And does he deliver.  He borrows a bright yellow 1980 Camaro with loud enough exhaust pipes to let you know he’s arrived from two blocks away.  Western Oklahoma kids show up in some outrageous rides to prom–I’ve seen grain trucks, fire trucks, semi trucks, tractors, antique cars, sports cars, the biggest and baddest pickups you can find… This year one of his friends was determined to ride her horse side saddle in her prom gown.  That would’ve been a sight to see.  But good ole’ Okie weather had to have a temper tantrum and ruin everything.  It went from 80 degrees the day before prom to bitterly cold, windy, and raining the evening of prom.  And little does my son Cadon know beforehand, the car he has borrowed doesn’t have a working heater.  (Who needs it in 80 degree weather, right?)  Promenade gets cancelled an hour before it’s supposed to start.  A small group of us decide we will watch them walk in anyway, even though they will no longer be announcing them as they make their grand entrance.  So we huddle under a canopy near the doorway, a small band of cold, wet parents, determined to get that picture of our kids walking the promenade.  In the meantime, the kids wait in the valet line for over an hour in a cold Camaro, getting to know each other, cause, you know, it’s a blind date.  I can only imagine how awkward that was.   Needless to say, Cadon’s friend did not arrive on her horse sidesaddle.  The wind and rain had no sympathy on anyone that night.  I cringed every time I saw a girl in a beautiful long, flowing prom dress step in a puddle of water. Or when I saw the umbrellas flying away in the wind while the girls melted in the rain on their mad dash indoors.  The collective hours of beauticians everywhere that went to waste that day…Wow, I’m crying foul on that one, Okie weather.

I chuckle as I look down memory lane and remember my own junior prom 30 years ago.  My dad insisted I make him a chocolate shake minutes before my date was to pick me up.  As I took the glass canister out of the blender, the bottom fell out, and chocolate shake went all over my dark green dress.  By some miracle, it was a material that repelled liquid and for the most part, ran off and onto the floor.  I was able to wash off what remained without leaving a stain.  I’m sure I smelled of extra-chocolatey goodness that evening.  And then there was my ride to prom.  My date had a 1966 Mustang that was the envy of everyone.  Only it was 80+ degrees that day, and his car had no air conditioning.  I remember sweating buckets by the time we arrived–along with my chocolate catastrophe, I was a certifiable mess.  I was thankful he was a good friend, because my social anxiety was at an all-time high that evening.  I probably never did thank him enough later for helping me get through that first memorable prom experience.

So thirty years later,on my son’s prom night, I stand next to that sweet boy’s parents in the cold, windy rain.  They are here because their “honorary” granddaughter is my son’s blind date.  Doesn’t life have some funny twists and turns?  We reminisce as we wait, laughing about Jason’s old Mustang and escapades lived out a lifetime ago.  Finally, I hear an engine rev, and see a flash of bright yellow.  I’m not sure who’s more happy about it–us or them.  You would have thought we were the paparazzi as our little group of teenagers made their way past us to go inside.  I’m so stinkin’ proud of them.  My momma’s heart swells with pride as I watch my son offer his arm to Natalie, and see him grin as he walks by.  Go have some fun, son!  Tear up the dance floor, take the pretty prom pictures, eat the fancy hors d’oeuvres.  And in thirty years from now, may you too have great memories to look back on as you watch your own teenagers engage in this timeless ritual.  Who knows? Maybe by then they’ll be showing up for promenade in flying cars.  I can only hope I am around to watch the magic one more time.

In Loving Memory 

Jason Miller

1972-2000

Grandfather time

1014016fb0324258342cdd5468c05329You’ve seen him. Pictures anyway. Grandfather Time in all his white-haired, long bearded glory. But have you met him?? I took care of him this week.  Or at least his doppelgänger. At 85 years old, he could certainly have claimed the title of Grandfather Time. As soon as I entered the room, I knew this patient was different from the average. He had the weathered, grizzled aura of someone who had seen much during his time on Mother Earth. I decided when I had a moment, I would ask him about his life story. I was not disappointed when I did. Slated to go back to the VA Center that day, he was well enough to sit and chat at the nurses station over a cup of coffee before he left. He said he grew up in Connecticut and had only ended up in Oklahoma due to an accident. When we asked why he chose to stay, he chuckled and said, “Stupidity…”  He had been in the Air Force for 15 years and said he had seen the world over many times. I asked him if he served in wartime or peace. ” Well, girl, you know…the Korean War… that’s where I messed up my head so bad.”  I nod silently. We’ve all heard the stories of the soldiers who never came back the same. He talks more of the places he’s seen, and jobs he undertook while in the service. Then he falls silent as he sips quietly on his coffee while reflecting on the past. I thank him for his service, although that doesn’t seem to count for much, compared to what he has done for me and my fellow countrymen. I make sure his next cup of coffee is exactly to his liking( lots of sugar) and carry on with my work.

Personnel from the VA Center soon show up to take my patient home. And just like that, my brief encounter with him is over. I reflect on what he’s told me. Have I spent my life making a difference like he did? Does what I do matter?  I hope so.  I can’t imagine getting to the end of my life and not knowing if I made a difference in the world around me.  Time waits for no one.  We either use it or waste it.  I hope when I am as old as Grandfather Time, I too can say I have seen the world over and come to it’s aid.  Make today count. 

                                  Nurse Ames, RN

Puppies, babies, and springtime, Oh MY!

Hey, everyone, today I’m taking a break from the weighty matters that sometimes fry my brain. Today is absolutely nothing about nursing and all about a Dixie update. That’s more fun anyway, right? 🙂 You’d love her if you could meet her. She has stolen all of our hearts, along with a few of the foster baby’s toys, the cat’s bed, and a few shoes. She’d chew on your fingers if she could, or play tug-of-war, or trot all over the backyard with you, checking out the smells and sounds. She’s a small, wiggly, black-and-white bundle of pure puppy love.

And my foster baby, who is just as adorable in his own way, has fallen hook, line, and sinker for Dixie. He literally has stars in his eyes when he gets to hold her and play with her. Cuteness factor overload!!

Daddy Duty

Speaking of babies, my daughter and I visited Lake Hefner on our way home from an appointment today. While visiting the lighthouse, we found one serious daddy on duty. Mom and her eggs on her nearby nest were well-protected!

My beautiful daughter Hannah

And because it’s springtime on the farm, I’ll share a couple of other spring pics that make my heart happy. Fall will always be my favourite season, but spring is a close second!

Spring is a season of renewal, hope, and change. I hope wherever you are, your spring is blooming beautifully, and full of life and love.

Dixie and my Day Off

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Spring is at its finest today. The daisies and yellowbells are in full bloom, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and a gentle breeze is blowing the curtains at my window.  And most importantly? It’s my day off!  I rose with the morning sun–as always, the Oklahoma sunrise is breathtaking, and it gives fresh inspiration for the day.   Today is state testing for my youngest in middle school.  He has requested hash browns for breakfast.  So I make a quick but delicious breakfast of hashbrowns, farm fresh eggs, and juice.   Trust me, I don’t do this every morning, but it’s my day off and he has made a special request.  I pop in VeggieTales for our foster child to watch while everyone readies for school and work. I then kiss and hug everyone and watch them go out the door. After the door closes behind the last one, I throw my hands up in the air and twirl around in a circle -“Woo-hoo! What do I do now?”  I have a whole day to myself with no commitments, only minimal housework, and a beautiful spring day to rejuvenate my soul.  So I proceed to do exactly that. 

Because that’s what it’s all about.  Health and well-being are not solely physical in nature.  Our mental state of health is as much a part of our overall wellbeing as the physical aspect.  What is one of the number one causes of nursing shortages? Burnout.  Has been for years.  We as nurses often take care of everyone else first and ourselves last.  This goes directly against everything we’ve been taught–we all know the drill on an airplane–“Put the oxygen mask on yourself before placing it on those around you.”  And yet in real life, we often do the opposite.  We pour all our energy, to the point of ongoing fatigue, into those around us.  We rarely leave time left over just for ourselves to pursue our own hobbies, quests and quiet times. It is in that environment that burnout creeps in.  Where our mental health lags as our mind and soul cry “Enough! What about me?!” 

So, on this rare luxurious day off, I spend my time meandering through several projects, working in the garden, taking a quick nap, reading a book, giving treats to my chickens…you get my drift.  Whatever I felt like doing, I did.  And my soul inside of me stretched and went “Ahhh…This is more like it.”  And I could feel myself relaxing and destressing the longer the day went on.  And now school is out and my 17 year old’s grinning face pops up in the front door window.  He opens the front door carefully to show me what he is holding.  A wiggly, squirmy, fluffy bundle of floppy puppy ears, pink tongue, and a short, wagging tail. Dixie has arrived!  Its his birthday this week, and he has been waiting on this puppy for six weeks.  He is ecstatic. He’s my quiet, dependable child, so his ear-to-ear grin speaks volumes to my heart.  So he plays with Dixie and shows her around her new home while I cook supper for the incoming masses.  Which would only be my sweet hubby, my daughter who is home from college for the weekend, my middle-schooler, and our adorable foster child.   But they can put away a lot of food! 🙂  Soon everyone arrives and it’s almost time to eat.  But first, introductions must be made. Everyone quickly falls in love with Dixie, but the squeals of joy and laughter from our 19 month-old foster baby help rejuvenate my soul a little more.  For he is simply enchanted with the wiggly wonders of a small puppy.  The look on his face is priceless as he hugs her as hard as he can before she wiggles loose and escapes.  Finally, we sit down to eat together around the table, another rarity in today’s fast-paced world.  We eat fried fish that was caught on a fishing trip by the boys last year, steamed veggies and a large garden salad.  It tastes delicious, made more so by our precious family time.  We talk, we laugh, we tell old jokes and stories, we giggle over earlier memories of when the kids were growing up.  My mother’s heart is thankful for the bounty at my table this evening–all my family is present, the food is good, and the memories are even better.  Soon however, as do all good things, our evening draws to an end.  The puppy is placed in her kennel, the foster baby in his crib, and my other kiddos do a few other odds and ends chores.  Soon I will ready for bed, knowing I have another long 12 hour day ahead of me in the ER tomorrow.  But I don’t dread it like I sometimes do.  I have worked out many emotional knots and kinks today while I took time to unwind.  I feel much more content and less stressed in general.  Did I accomplish great things today on my day off? Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it.  Achieving and maintaining good mental health is definitely a goal for everyone to strive towards.  Today, I took time out of my busy schedule to do just that.  And I even found a new friend in the process.  Welcome to our world, little Dixie!

                     Nurse Ames, RN

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