All content on this blog is copyright by Marci Andrews Wahlquist as of its date of publication.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kudos to Nurses

I had to do heavy-duty nursing last week. When I was a very young girl, I wanted to be a nurse. I had a great-aunt whom I loved very much who had been a nurse, and she was my professional idol when I first began to think what I would like to “be” when I grew up. 

However, I took a different path after all.

I have been called upon to do lots of nursing during my life, but I don’t think I’m suited to it. I don’t like it, but I’m glad to do it for the sake of a sick or injured loved one.

I am really glad to have been given the gift of a calm, practical-minded mother who taught me to do whatever needed to be done without fussing about it. I know I can take care of the needs of the people around me—so long as I have the energy—because my mother taught me so much about how to take care of people.

When I interviewed my little Grammy about her life years and years ago, she told me that she would have liked to have been a nurse. When she was a teenager, she nursed her brother through a dangerous illness, and the attending doctor told her she was a natural at nursing and that he couldn’t have pulled her brother through the illness without her work. 

But Grammy got married and raised nine children. Grammy was the go-to person for all the family when somebody needed nursing. If a baby was sick or an elderly aunt failing, my Grammy was the person wanted. She could do wonders.

I think my mother inherited some of that from her. My mother wouldn’t stand for illness to take over. It just did not dare—my mother had that kind of command about her.

So there is an attitude that I have learned, that is part of my heritage. And there is the practical, get-it-done attitude that I have also learned from the women in my family. But the fine art and schooled skill is something else—something that is amazing and awe-inspiring.

An English nurse named Louise last week, working in post-op, had it in abundance. Thank you, Louise, and all you other nurses who ensure our comfort, our hope, our very lives when we are most vulnerable.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


My sister is a veterinarian in a very small town. I was told by my home vet last month that my dog’s teeth were in danger of falling out if I did not get them cleaned with their expensive new technology very soon. I asked the price. Gasp. I called my sister and we arranged for her to do my dog’s teeth (and she doesn’t charge what big-city vets charge either). My mother and I drove down to my sister’s to stay for a couple of days and visit and get the dog treated.

The morning of the treatment, my sister had me hold my dog while she gave him the necessary injections to put him to sleep. In came one of the family cats, Daisy. Daisy has an unerring sense, my sister says, of when a dog is helpless and vulnerable. She strolled over to a point right in the center of my dog’s field of vision as he began to get woozy and was stretched out. Daisy sat down facing my dog, a look of supreme triumph on her face, and licked a paw.

That’s the same paw that has smacked my dog’s nose with claws out when he disobeyed our orders to leave the cat alone. He’s afraid of her, but he still wants to chase her. There she was, probably appearing to be two cats, twice the normal size and shimmering in a mirage-like way. He cried. My sister ordered her daughter to get the cat out of the room, right now.

“That cat.” She loves to tease my sister’s canine patients. She knows when they are helpless, and she comes over and puts her nose right down to theirs if nobody is noticing her movements until the last second. Or she jumps on a piece of furniture near enough to the examining table to be able to stare down at the canine that in her eyes is finally getting its just desserts.

I can just hear her. “Ha ha ha, you Dog, you. Suffer! Suffer! Hooray for my master the Vet!” When I picked up Daisy, she purred. I’m sure she thoroughly approved my decision to bring my big, dumb Dog to be tortured.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Computers and Other Horrible Things

My computer was attacked by a dreaded malware last week, and although my security software identified it and quarantined it immediately, my browser crashed and burned and refused to work after that. I had to reinstall it, but first I was afraid that there might be something more wrong than just that, so I carefully copied off all my files onto a couple of flash drives, and I put them all on my husband’s computer for safe-keeping while I worked on mine to get it running right again. Everything went well, and I recopied everything back onto my computer.

The latest poetry effort I had made was still waiting to be added to my poetry files. I typed it and started to add it to the folder. The folder was empty.


I have been writing poetry since I was a little girl. It’s not something I share with others, with a few exceptions through the years. There are a couple of poems I don’t mind if somebody else reads, but most of them are no good as poetry. Yet I still write it and write it and write it. I can’t stop. I’ve kept each one carefully copied into the latest software ever since I first started using computers 25+ years ago. Before that I had written them out in a sort of calligraphy I had made up for myself. I keep updating the ones I’ve written as an adult, fixing this line or that, tweaking, trying to get them to be real poems. I update the software they are saved in. I keep working at them. I had around 250 when I lost them all.

I couldn’t believe it. I searched through every folder, desperate. I knew I had a couple of backups—the ones up to five years ago were on a CD, and I had printed them from time to time to add to a binder, but when did I last print? I found the book; the last one I had printed was a year and a half ago. At least I had not lost them all; I had them up to that time.

What had I written since then? I could remember one poem I wrote last summer that I had actually had the audacity to share—even though it was still a rough draft—with my book group. I thought I had written a few more than that though. I searched through my handwritten notebooks in case I had that rough draft still in there. It was there. Whew. Another poem draft was also there.

I typed the rough drafts and then went to work on them. I worked and worked and worked, but I didn’t know if these new drafts were anything like what I had lost. I just could not remember.

It was amazing that I was so grieved to lose my poems. It is not as if they are some great treasure or legacy or anything I even want to share! But still I was bereft.

I wiped my eyes and copied the new poems into the empty folder. Wait a minute. All the old files reappeared. Where had they gone? Why hadn’t I been able to see them? But they were back! I printed them all, right away. And I backed them up.

I really hate computers.