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Caring This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Leaves fall from the trees in brightly colored bunches of crimson and gold. The wind makes a shrill whistling noise as it blows. It is a typical autumn day in Connecticut. Indoors, the atmosphere is quite different. People sit talking in quiet, subdued voices. Some converse with friends; others just murmur aloud. In their world, the concept of time seems altered. To some, John F. Kennedy is president, while others are still struggling through the Depression or composing letters to loved ones in Europe fighting in World War II. These people are all residents at the nursing home where I volunteer. Most are lonely and appreciate any little bit of assistance that I can give them, be it pushing their wheelchairs to dinner or reading them a story. What they have given me in return, though, is so much greater. They have reaffirmed my desire to become a nurse.

I was first struck with the thought that nursing would be the perfect job when I was three years old and my younger brother was born. I remember my father hoisting me up to catch my first glimpse of him through the nursery window. He captured my full attention as I admired his wisps of blond hair and tiny pink fists. Something else quickly caught my eye, though. I was intrigued by the women dressed in pastel uniforms who walked amongst the rows of babies, monitoring them, adjusting their blankets, and feeding them with bottles. I had watched enough television to know that these women were nurses. To me, that became the ultimate job. Of course, I now realize that many aspects of nursing are less romantic than I saw that day in the hospital, but I have not wavered in my conviction that nursing is the perfect job for me. Touching the lives of the nursing home residents has been the most significant experience in helping me realize this.

Working with the elderly is sometimes disturbing. Many senior citizens are in pain from various ailments or sad because they miss their families. Others are depressed because they are not as capable of caring for themselves. They may have trouble walking due to arthritis or trouble seeing because of failing eyesight. Still, they have not lost their personalities or characters. The wisdom they have gained from living so long is impressive. It is this wisdom that they freely give and I promise to take to heart, even if the content is a bit jumbled. One senior, Betty, always reminds me, "If you don't have anything nice to say, sit still." She also tells me how she was initially shocked when her granddaughter married someone of a different race, but then she realized that "All people make a world."

The most important lesson that I have learned is not one that anyone has told me. I have learned that being a nurse does not give you the magical power to make every patient healthy, young, or even happy. I remember that any help I can give, no matter how slight, can change that life for the better. I will be sure to carry this understanding with me along with Betty's wise words, "Help others as you want to be helped," when I reach my goal of becoming a nurse. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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