Monday, October 26, 2015

Nurse Paula

By Paula Gaikowski

It was the 1960’s, a hospital in Brooklyn, New York, the corridors were cacophony of sounds, smells and people. If American is a melting pot, then Brooklyn is the place where it gets stirred. The hallways were crowded with families, police, and medical staff. Here was a place that almost everyone was destined to pass through. My mother held my hand as my father seemed to clear a path that I was pulled through.

My grandmother, who ironically I was named after, laid ill down the hall. My parents had rushed in from New Jersey and brought me with them.

I was left with the nurses as my parents went to my grandmother’s side. I was calmed and comforted by them and followed them like a puppy. They were loving, gentle and sweet. Watching them tend to so many fascinated me. I followed them as they went on their rounds.

You see, I was 8-years-old and I had already started praying each night for God to turn me into a girl. My father was a mechanic and my uncle a plumber. My friend’s Dad drove a truck. The idea of doing any of these things for a lifetime was even out of place then. I hated the garage where Dad worked; it was wet, dirty and noisy.

A nurse, yes, this is where I belonged, this is where I fit in! Helping people… I wanted to help people and be like these ladies. I identified with them.

Driving back home thru the New Jersey Mmeadowlands, I volunteered, “When I grow up I want to be a nurse.”

My Mom and Dad said something to each other in Polish as they often did when they didn’t want us to hear.

While lighting a cigarette my Mom yelped back, “Boys can’t be nurses, only girls are nurses.”
My Dad added something about being a doctor or lawyer.

It was the 1960’s and boys couldn’t be nurses and for that matter boys couldn’t be girls either.
Now it’s 2015 and times have changed. Today boys can be nurses and girls can be doctors and lawyers.

What’s more, boys, who want to, can also be girls, and today, for a short time I made right a wrong turn so many years ago. I was both!

Happy Halloween!

Source: Ann Taylor
Wearing Ann Taylor.

Son and mother in their daughter and father Halloween costumes.
Son and mother in their daughter and father Halloween costumes.

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