As I stroll along the road towards the supermarket, she is coming towards me accompanied by a man that I presume is her husband. I haven’t seen her for an age. How long? I can’t remember but its a long time. She recognises me despite the fact that I have changed so much. She hasn’t changed at all. Not one iota. In fact, it takes not a smattering of imagination to see her still walking backwards at the side of the traveller, needle in hand, stitching the ends of a rug as it emerges from my machine. She was one of my ‘sewers off’ (our description) or assistant, and we worked together for a while until she received the calling to be a nurse. I recall that time vividly because she wasn’t the only one who decided to enter the nursing profession. It was as if the finishing department had been visited by some nurse recruitment officer with a very persuasive tongue, and she wasn’t the only friend of mine to leave and take up nursing, though she was the only one who became a state registered nurse. I can also recall at the time wondering if I wasn’t being prompted to take up nursing, seeing as everyone else seemed to be getting the calling, perhaps I reasoned it was a hint that I should also consider a change of profession?
I knew the question would come. After all, she was a nurse. I didn’t want to answer it. It’s strange how none of us like to admit that we aren’t well health wise, and as it was unlikely that I would see her again, I did toy with stating the usual. ‘Oh, I’m fine!’ or some such and moving the conversation sharply onto other topics.
‘How are you?’ she asked. ‘Last time I saw you was in the Cardiac Unit, do you remember?’ Ahh, yes of course!
I told her the truth about my current battle.
‘Oh, I am sorry!’ How I hate it all. I don’t want any pity. Its why its so tempting to lie and say your feeling on top of the world. Inwardly I grimace, but thankfully she asks about Kerri and how she is coping with it all. I relate about how she ended up nursing me last year and how she comes into her own if I am not feeling well. How suddenly she becomes a different person, in her element with the tables turned.
‘I’m pretty certain that she would have been a nurse Kath if she hadn’t had special needs, its sort of there inside her, a built in desire to care and I have been so grateful for her being there this last year.’
‘ I know exactly what you mean! I always say, there’s always a reason why things happen. My Mum was in her early 40’s when she had me, and yet when she got older, she realised that if I hadn’t been born, there would have been no one to look after her when she became ill, and its the same thing with you. Kerri was born to you for a reason, and now you are finding out why.’
All those years that I had known her, I had never heard her say anything as profound as the statement she had just made. We parted company wishing each other the best, as she is now due to retire and I hoped that she would enjoy it all more than I have enjoyed retirement. Will I see her again in the future? It all depends. She has promised to stay in touch and visit in the future so who knows? But that chance encounter really gave me food for thought as I continued on my way.