When you are a kid, you don’t really take time to analyze what your parents do. They go to work, come home and life moves on in a child’s world. You know what your parents do for a living, but you really don’t know what they are actually doing.
But when you think back on what they did—on the sacrifices they made—it is hard not to feel a little ashamed that you didn’t appreciate what they were doing at the time.You see, my parents both were nurses.
My mom spent a good portion in her four decades as a nurse working days in the emergency room. She liked it if you can believe that. The days move fast and there is never a dull moment. She also had some of the most amazing (and cringe-worthy) stories you could ever hear.
At 4-foot-10, she could command around anyone of any size—and they always listened.
My dad spent a good portion of his career as an overnight ICU nurse. There were not a lot of male nurses in the early-to-mid 1980s, but it wasn’t something I ever really thought about. It was his job and that’s where he went every night. Now, male nurses are much more commonplace.
Later in his career, he was working at a progressive care center when he was diagnosed with cancer, dying shortly thereafter in 2004 at age 54.
I never stopped to think about how my parents were affecting others by saving their lives. I can envision my mom administering CPR to a heart attack patient or my dad responding to a patient who is coding.
Yet, despite everything they did, when I look back at it, I could not imagine what it would have been like to have my parents dealing with something like COVID-19. They both would have been on the front lines.
My mom might have had to deal with patients as they came into the hospital, while my dad might have had to monitor them while on ventilators.
It’s not only scary to think about them having to deal with that at work, but it’s scary to think they could have brought it home.
Not only did my parents have my older brother and me at home, my mom’s parents lived with us. In the mid-80s, that put my grandparents in their 60s- a target age for people susceptible to COVID-19.
It makes me truly worried –yet proud and amazed—at what our current healthcare workers are enduring. They go into the unknown every day and follow through on their oath to save peoples’ lives.
May 2000, when I graduated from the Journalism program at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I am on the left, then my dad, Roger Walters, my sister-in-law Tanisha Walters, my mom Maria Walters, and my brother, Roger Jr.
I fully understand that doctors, nurses, and healthcare support staff are in harm’s way every time they go to work—similar to our brave police and firefighters—but this is unlike anything we’ve encountered.
When simple protective gear like face masks are in short supply and citizens are sewing their fingers off just to provide even the most basic form of protection for them, it is not a good situation. Yet like soldiers going to war, they trudge on each day the most mandatory of essential workers heading out the front door.
I think our country has always had an appreciation and pride in having the greatest health workers in the world. Now, more than ever, we see what they are doing, and we watch in awe. They are the new breed of superheroes—the Avengers pale in comparison.
So to all of you, health care workers, when you come home from work and you’re tired, mentally spent and feeling alone or overwhelmed, know we are out here, your silent admirers, rooting you on, hoping you stay safe while helping our community beat this awful virus.Without you there is no hope.
History will remember what you did. If you have children, I guarantee they will remember your contributions. They will have an understanding—and concern—I could never have imagined in my childhood.
Walters can be reached at email@example.com
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