The time I spent getting to know my patients was the best part of nursing. As a hospital dialysis nurse, during the course of a four-hour treatment, we had a lot of time to talk. One of my favorite patients was a lively little seventy-year old lady, the mother of twenty-one children. I never knew what she’d have to say. When I expressed my amazement at her having so had many, she told me, “It wasn’t so bad. I had a set of twins, so I was only pregnant twenty times.”
“You must be proud of your kids,” I answered.
“Huh,” she snorted. “Ain’t half of ’em worth the powder it’d take to blow ’em away. I gotta keep my purse right with me.”
“Oh.” I had no other response to that.
She was always full of wild tales about getting the best of her “old man” who was twenty years older than she. I inferred they had a warm relationship, but she straightened me out when I expressed my condolences at her next treatment after his death.
“Mrs. Johnson, I ‘m sorry to her of your loss. I know you must miss your husband.” I dreaded the lonely times ahead for her.
She cackled. “I’m glad that old devil from hell is gone. I thought for sure he was gonna outlive me. My daddy gave me to him when I wad’n but thirteen years old. He beat me ever’day long as he was able. I was so proud when he got old and stoved up so I could take a piece of a firewood to him any time I got ready. I mean to tell you I whooped him many a time.”
She always gave me plenty to think about.