A decade ago I met her when she came into the office and sat down beside me. She seemed to be very focused on her task at hand so any conversation during that initial meeting was limited. I could tell that she was not going to stop what she was doing to engage in idle chitchat. Subsequent meetings were pretty much the same…come in, sit down, turn on laptop, click away at the keys, fax a few things and out the door she would go.

Over time I was able to get her to talk a little bit more but even that was hit or miss. Why did she have to be so focused? Didn’t she know that I was not going to stay quiet? I had things to talk about, questions to ask, opinions were sought, including hers. Look up from the dang laptop and breathe three big cleansing breaths! I figured that would give me an opportunity to get her attention for a minute at least. It didn’t. Even though she was looking at me and smiling, I could tell that she was not really listening. She was thinking about how much work she had to do before she could go home. She wasn’t about to take her work home with her because as I eventually learned, she wasn’t going to work for free. It was then that I cringed and thought about the times that I had waited until I got home to complete everything and by doing that, I had “worked for free”. 😩. The little redheaded girl had a point and I tried to follow her lead. It usually didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I’m sure it wasn’t because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.🙂

Our jobs were stressful. People depended on us. We became part of their family. It was impossible not to let our professional lives spill over into our personal lives. Our cell phones were attached to our ears; the calls were many and the time of day or night didn’t seem to matter. We were their lifeline, their hope and their reassurance. As much as we loved what we did, burnout was setting in. Something had to change.

On one particular fall day, I was leaving a patient’s home when my phone rang. It startled me because I was so far out in the country and cell phone towers were not plentiful out there. I mean, you just about had to pump in sunshine; I was out in the sticks! In fact, I did have to drive up the road just a little bit so that the static would subside and the garbled voice would become clear. Quite out of the blue, I was being asked to come in to be interviewed for the assistant director of nursing position at a healthcare facility. Wow! We talked on the phone for a while and plans were made to continue the conversation in the office. I continued making my visits that day but I had one lingering question in the back of my mind. I had been in middle management for a number of years and it just about broke me. Did I want to do that again? I did not but I had someone in mind. The little redheaded girl would be perfect in that position. I called the facility, expressed my appreciation for being contacted and told the director of nursing that I knew just the right person for the job and it wasn’t me. It was the little redheaded girl.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. She got the job; I left home health and that was that. Only it wasn’t. The job that I had taken after leaving home health didn’t work out like I thought it would. I called the little redheaded girl and told her that my job was not working out and to keep her ears open for any available positions. Less than a month later, we were working together again, It was great. I had missed her.

We worked together for about seven years. I was in management again, reporting to her. It felt more like a mother-daughter team instead of a manager/assistant director of nursing team. I was the mother,🙂 During that time, she became the director of nursing and a friend of ours was hired to be the assistant director of nursing. We were a team for sure now and I was still the mother. We had some good times and some not so good times but through it all, we had each other.

I retired three months ago. Having been a nurse since 1973, it was time. The trio became a duet. They continued to work in healthcare and I began baking more bread. Our days were quite different. Changes were being made. We all began to focus on other things and as I said earlier in this post, the little redheaded girl could focus! Better than most I would say.

Last Friday was her last day. She will still be in healthcare only now it will be working with young people, not geriatrics. She will do a great job and I am excited for her. Watch out you high school students. She is little but that red hair…don’t mess with her or you may regret it! Oh, and she is from Texas and you don’t mess with them either.

The trio that became a duet is now a solo. Gina, you keep everyone straight and in line. If anyone can do it, you can. The 506 is always open if you need to get away for a bit. 🧡

Enjoy this new chapter in your life. You will be great. No more late night phone calls or texts. No more worrying about staffing ratios…Little redheaded girl, now you truly are back in high school.😉

Go get ‘em, Shauna. ❤️