I love nurses. If you’ve ever had to be in a hospital overnight or for a longer stay you’ll appreciate them. While doctors can be very technical and analytical at times… and more cautious in this era of legalities, nurses on the other hand try to walk the fine line of care and service. When I had a needle stuck into my arm several times over 10 days and it was blue and black from the bruising, it was their compassion that kept me going. That compassion is something that comes to the very heart of Tasha’s mother.
Nurses have long held a very special role in the black community. It’s historically been considered a somewhat esteemed and respectable profession. I’ll harken back to one of my favorite nurse movies: The English Patient where the military nurse played by the elegant Juliette Binoche abandoned her troop for the then scarred Ralph Fiennes to care for him. The long hours, knowledge required and technical language have made it a noble middle class career. But nursing has also had its drawbacks. Long hours. Huge commitment. Physically and mentally exhausting. A nurse’s work is never done. This is the challenging conundrum Tasha must face with her mother.
Ruth is the kind of woman who will stop in the middle of the night and get out of her car to walk someone across the street. She is a doer not a dreamer. She overflows with compassion and I believe compassion drives her to sometimes make bad decisions for her family. She is the kind of woman who can sense those deeply in need. But she has blinders when it comes to her own children. She is surrounded by death and dying everyday so she is not always able to sense the small things. Every life has a deeper role and meaning. She cherishes it. She is someone who comforts and stays late and works late. She stays late to work with the sickest patients.
Ruth is Tasha’s role model. She is the hardworking mother, the caring mother, the mother who never passes a homeless person by. But in her attention to those around her, she doesn’t see how much Tasha truly needs her. She is the mother who is always trying to do too much. She has received awards and many gifts for her service, but to her children they mean little because it is always time away from them. They fill in that lost time by doing things for each other. Sadly, nurses commonly become some of the sickest people as they age. Their care of others commonly results in not enough self-care. This is an element Tasha will need to deal with in as the seasons progress