11: The Bus Stop

11: The Bus Stop

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

The Bus Stop

Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

~Voltaire

Mom and I walked side by side through town. I was twelve years old, dependent on her, yet wanting so much to be my own person. She raised me by herself, her only child, and except for when I was at school we were almost always together.

Before I was born she had worked as a nurse, but she stopped shortly after my birth to care for me. Recently she had returned to work at the local hospital.

I didn’t like her going back to work. She left at 5:45 a.m., which left me responsible for waking myself up, fixing breakfast, and walking to the 7:30 a.m. bus.

I hated being left home alone in the mornings, but I especially hated having to take the bus. Once I had missed it, and I wasn’t only late to school, but I had caused Mom to scramble to find someone else to drive me. After that I was so worried I would miss the bus that I left way too early every day to make the half-mile walk. I stood by myself before the other kids arrived, in rain, sleet and snow, in agonizing preteen embarrassment as commuters drove by.

Mom worked the day shift so she could pick me up after school. On days she didn’t go to the hospital, she drove me both ways. Those were the best days.

As we walked that day on the sidewalk, I saw an older man approaching us. He suddenly broke into a wide smile, but I didn’t recognize him.

“Leigh! Leigh!” he said, calling my mother’s name.

“Hello,” she responded. “How are you feeling?”

“Couldn’t be better! Thanks. Now who is this lovely young person?” he asked jovially.

“This is my daughter,” Mom replied, looking over to me. “Jenny, can you say hello?”

I looked at him and smiled, unsure of my role.

“Well, it is very nice to meet you, young lady. I hope you know how lucky you are!” he said.

I looked at him uncertainly since I had no idea what he was talking about and I didn’t feel lucky at all, especially since he was standing too close to me.

“You have the most wonderful, caring and lovely mother,” he said over-enunciating the words. “When I was in the hospital last month she took the best care of me. She made every day better. Every day. In fact, young lady, I shall never forget her.”

He removed his attention from me and went back to addressing my mother.

I watched this stranger’s delight in my mom. He kept thanking her and thanking her.

Right then it dawned on me what it meant for my mom to be a nurse, what it actually meant for her to go and do her job while I was at school. She was caring for, serving, and loving random strangers, often during some of the scariest times in their lives.

It wasn’t the last time I witnessed someone thanking Mom or complimenting her on her bedside manner, but it was the first time I understood why I stood at the bus stop every morning. My mom was a nurse, and sometimes life was about other people. She cared for them… and me, too.

~Jennifer Quasha

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