Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Well….
I always try to do my best. Looking back I can see where not always my best was my complete best but the best when considering all other things happening at the time. If I would have done less than my best at the time, I would have failed.
The year was 2003. I was in my second semester of Practical Nursing School. The best nursing school Arkansas has to offer. I was one in 30 of over 400 applicants chosen by way of test score. This practical nurse school has more clinical hours than any nurse program in the state including all degrees. A grueling 30 clinical hours per week, scrutinized by even your appearance.
The second semester is the start of clinicals. Three 10 hour clinical days and two days of classes per week. Test taken every class day. One of the classes taken was Geriatrics. It was a four-week class consisting of 4 exams, taught by the Director of the program. This semester started at a time when the 162 dollars a month income was crippling me. My electric and water had been shut off at the same time.
So me and my son went and stayed at the homeless shelter. I obtained full-time employment at a Nursing Home as a Certified Nursing Assistant. The pay-day fell to where I would work a month before getting enough pay to pay the electric bill. Employees were paid bi-weekly with one payday held back. Starting on the second week of the payperiod, brought the sum total of my first check to only like 50 dollars. Therefore, me and my son stayed a month in the homeless shelter. That, by the way, charges people 60 dollars a week to live there. It isn’t free like most people think. I worked night shift then. Then went straight to clinical from work.
In my geriatric class, I missed one class day because of a transportation issue. It happened to be a test day. I learned the hard way in nursing school, you can not make up a test. You get an 0 regardless of the reason you missed the test. Even if you are deathly ill, you are supposed to come to the college with a mask on and take the test on the day of the test. If not, you get F, no matter what.
In this nursing program, you can not make less than 75 percent in any class or you fail. Well, this made it near impossible for me considering there were only 4 exams; and I had zero on one. That meant I would have to make 100 percent on all the other test; in which, I had already made a 98 percent on one.
I was not stopping. I came too far to turn away. The professor gave an extra assignment to write a research paper on anything to do with geriatrics. This paper would count as 100 points like an extra test grade. If you choose not to do it, you only have the four grades.
The day before due, I moved back to home without the electricity being on two days before payday because my son witnessed first hand a man trying to kill another man. A man walked up in the mens dorm and went to beating another man with a 4 X 4. I decided my son and I could camp out for 2 days better than that shiz.
After college that day, I went to the library checked out three books. One of the books was about the normal aging brain. I think it was entitled something like The Greying of America. Anyways, I went home to no electricity. My neighbor on the other side of the duplex ran an extension cord to my side. I took a nap woke up then scanned over the books and chose the normal aging brain theme to write my paper. In fact, I titled my paper Normal Aging Brain.
I became sleepy because for some reason reading makes me sleepy. I went to sleep then woke up about 9pm. I wrote non-stop free writing my paper on the back of some old handouts. I was so poor at the time, I could not afford paper lol. I wrote five pages of small print non stop. I finished about 4 o’clock in the morning. My son and I then hurried for school for it was a must to arrive in time to type the paper before class started. The paper was due when class starts and late assignments were not accepted. I did just that. I am not a very fast typist either. I just typed it word for word like I had it written. No time for spell check. I barely finished in time for class.
Well in Geriatrics, I made one zero. My other test were A’s ranging between 95 to 99 percent. The professor gave me a 100 percent on the research paper. She even made the comment , ” I like your references and family details to make your points.” That was the first and only research paper I had ever written. I made a 76 percent in Geriatrics passing that class by one measly point. I was so happy. I felt like I could do anything after that. I cried though because that same class a class mate failed. For some odd reason, she did not do the research paper. I cried and cried because I could not even begin to phantom what kind of hard times would have made it impossible for her to do that.
Inside that research paper, I had written about my father, Grandmother, and Great Aunt Goldie and how old age is different to everyone. Also about memories; there are studies according to the book that the brain’s area for long-term memories increases instead of decreases as you age and also causes the older person to think more abstractly and get the point of literature and wisdom of things that a younger person can’t understand yet. Also it stated the short-term memory area shrinks and so it makes your elders just know things without remembering how or whatforth they know it lol. So when my mom says “just because I said so” She has the wisdom well above my years and just knows without remembering why.
Also this quote was in my paper from my Great Aunt Goldie ” make happy memories now, because when you are old memories are all you have left” . My Great Aunt Goldie was a retired licensed Pratical Nurse. She loved life. She continued her whole life doing her favorite things hunting, cooking with the pots on the table lol, she drove, talked on the phone 24/7 to friends, said words like poop, etc… in contrast her sister my Grandmother Ruby never drove in her life, had a business degree but never employed other than babysitting, always said things like putting pots on the table is trifling, and that’s not ladylike. It was like my Great Aunt Goldie had broken away from tradition in her generation.
Well my Great Aunt Goldie died during my nursing school my last semester. I was almost to the breaking point. I could not even miss 5 minutes of class or clinical or I would of failed. Only 3 days are allowed throughout the program. I had been up singing along to the song Send Me an Angel at midnight. The next day I randomly called my mom and she told me that my Great Aunt Goldie died at midnight the night before. I believe she is truly one of my angels. I could not attend the funeral. Not only because of not being able to miss the class time, I was also too poor for the gas to go; and when I thought about it, I know my Aunt definitely wanted me to pass nursing school.
Pine Bluff Commercial – Pine Bluff, AR
Goldie Stanley Lewis