by Neva Bodin
First I’d lose weight and look younger. Well, things weren’t moving in that direction. Then, one morning, as I sat at the college gym where I work out a bit, and took one shoe off to put my gym shoes on, half my big toe nail fell off. I don’t know if anyone else was surprised, but I sure was!
As with any embarrassing moment which couldn’t be helped or planned, I looked around to see who noticed. Then I hastily picked it up and hid it in my pocket, put my socks and shoes on and headed for the exercise bike. I almost whistled nonchalantly.
My decision was made. I’d make an effort to travel 730 miles to attend a monthly luncheon of nursing classmates before anything else fell off!
So began my continuously rescheduled airline flights of last week–four planes, four rescheduled flights. Snow storms and crew availability caused canceled flights and an overnight stay in Denver, CO, where my blessings continued when I immediately ran into a friend at the gate—a nursing friend whom I’d worked with in the seventies and hadn’t seen for a couple years. We were put up in the same great hotel and had a stupendous meal together that evening.
My classmates and I began a grueling three year nursing course 49 years ago. We lived in a dorm with one phone per floor. Each year’s class occupied one floor, although there were so many of us, (nearly 40 if I remember right) that several were forced to live on the floor below with the junior class.
The first semester, and probably the second, we took many college classes, traveling by bus to a local university. We also had nursing fundamentals and certain skills labs in our dorm classrooms.
Our class was made up of many different personalities. Ordinarily I believe only a few of us would have ever bonded in life. And at the time, that’s what it felt like too.
But we lived in a dorm, with only one phone in the hall per 30+ students, and only one shower/bath room to share, plus classes and work experiences year around, summers too. A sisterhood, (we had only one male student and he didn’t live in the dorm) developed unawares.
It’s amazing. The students who live near Fargo, ND where this monthly luncheon occurs, began meeting perhaps two years ago. This time eight of us came—one from Arkansas even.
Two of us at the luncheon are still working. For those of us who graduated after three years of pouring our lives into our chosen profession, (we went to school year-around, no summers off, we rotated holidays and I worked through my first and third Christmas there), we were nurses through and through. Nurses are us.
And the affection I felt for each one was reflected in the faces ringing the round table at the restaurant. (One classmate hadn’t aged at all! Bet she still has all her toenails too!)
Perhaps it was struggling for a common goal. As when the first immigrants to America proudly became Americans as they fought to form a new country. Bonds are forged without being recognized. I am saddened by those who have already died, our one male being one of those, even though we weren’t particularly close at the time.
However this sisterhood developed, I am grateful for it. And despite the airlines best attempts to keep us apart, I am grateful I did something some might think foolish, and flew 730 miles to have lunch with people I hadn’t seen in at least 30 years perhaps.
And now we are planning a 50th year reunion for 2016. Nurses are us!