About a year ago, I received a very important phone call from my granddaughter in Seattle. As it happened, I was ill at the time and was actually about to go into surgery. I suspect the timing of the phone call had something to do with cheering me up and giving me something to look forward to.
My granddaughter and namesake explained that in September of 2013 she would receive her R.N. pin in the traditional ceremony that registered nurses go through at this part of their training. She realized this was a full year away but she had been told that she needed a nurse to "pin" her and wanted to be sure I would come and do the honors. My nursing career happened a great many years ago but naturally I was thrilled to be asked and told her I would definitely be there "with bells on."
The year passed rather quickly as years do these days, and last week it was finally time for the "pinning." What a wonderful day it turned out to be!! It was held on the campus of Seattle University on a beautiful Saturday afternoon (actually sunny which I understand is rare for Seattle). The "pinnies" sat on one side of the stage and the "pinners" on the other. (Someone worked very diligently to get all those place cards on the right chairs.)
As each name was called, we walked across the stage to meet our students and placed a cord with the coveted R.N. pins around their necks. A simple ceremony, but very meaningful! Among the pinners were mothers, husbands, aunts, sisters, etc. I may have been the only grandmother and was simply delighted to be there. On a humorous note, one of my shoulders has been bothering me and I was a little concerned that I might not do the "pinning" gracefully. Joanne realized this, and, as she is 6 feet tall, she wanted to be sure to bend way over to make it easier for me. The resulting picture is quite hilarious. We look like we are at right angles!
Of course there were the usual remarks by school administrators, teachers, school officials and class leaders. My mind wandered a bit during this part of the ceremony. I went back to some 40 years ago when I was "pinned." I couldn't help remembering how young and strong we all felt — ready to go out and change the world, armed with all our new and important knowledge. There is a camaraderie that exists between nurses who train together, work together and learn together. It's hard to explain but all nurses will know what I mean. I also reminisced over some of our reunions we've had over the years. After 40 years everyone has a story to tell and I enjoyed hearing them all. It's amazing how you can pick up some friendships after a long time and feel like there has been no break in time. I hope Joanne is fortunate enough to have the same kind of experiences with her new friends.
There were the usual refreshments after the ceremony at which time I got to meet many classmates. I began to sense a depth of character and maturity in these people. I realized eventually that this program at Seattle University is quite unique in that a nursing candidate has to already have at least a bachelor's degree before even applying to the program. Some already have master's degrees. Wow! No wonder I was impressed. They will go on now to work on their master's in nursing in one of several fields. Some will become midwives, some physician assistants and still others will go into the public health field. These will definitely be health care executives of the future and I am completely amazed at their energy and ambition.
Some, including my granddaughter, are married and already starting families. Spending a few days with my great- granddaughter was my real reason for visiting Seattle! This next year will be difficult for these young students but I can tell they will all make it; they have already proven they are masters at multi-tasking. I wish them well in this most honorable profession.
My own nursing career didn't last very long but I can honestly say that I have used what I learned in those formative years nearly every day of my life. Go, nurses!
Joanne Lippert is a travel consultant and longtime Fresno resident.