Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom and I

Today is my sweet mother’s birthday and we have the good fortunate to celebrate it together.

Yesterday, I picked up Kathy Murch, my Mom, from the airport so she could spend a week with us here in sunny Southern California. 

Since her birthday and Shane’s are only a few weeks apart, she usually comes in August, so we can celebrate both of them together.  Shane always thinks of it as his birthday too and we always do something super fun.

Tracy, Shane & Kathy
Seeing her with Shane brings back memories of my own youth.

My Mom had me when she was super young, and then her and my dad split when I was about 5 years old.  So it has always been my mom and I – just like Bonnie and Clyde.

When I was really little, she worked as a waitress and bartender to make ends meet.  But, when I was in junior high school, she decided that she wanted to go to college to become a nurse. 

It was not an easy time for her; She went to school full-time and then had to work – whenever she could – to support us.  But all her hard work paid off and she became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). 

She got a job at a hospital but, after a bit, she set her sights on continuing her education and went back to school to be a Registered Nurse (RN).  She took her classes at a local community college so – when I graduated from high school – we both were attending Brookdale at the same time.  We even took the same Anatomy & Physiology class just for the fun of it.

My mom is very youthful and, back in the 80s when she was 36 years old, we seemed more like sisters than mother and daughter.  Some of my then boyfriend’s friends wanted to ask her out on a date. 

I was not having any of that nonsense, but I can assure you it was very flattering for my mom.

Once again, she was back in the routine of school but she was now working as a nurse.  Unfortunately, in order to make it to classes, she had to put in long “unconventional” hours – like midnights and overnight. 

But after a lot of blood (not hers thank God), sweat and tears (both hers unfortunately), she became a Registered Nurse specializing in Psychiatry.

Eventually, this area of expertise allowed her to get out of the hospital and work in a more specialized field.  One position she held was at a community outreach program.  This role allowed her to help members of the community who were being prepared to return to society after having been hospitalized for psychiatric issues.

I loved seeing my mom in this position. First, it was more of an administrative role so it was really cool that she was held in such high esteem.  After having such crappy work hours with school and being low-woman on the nursing totem pole, it was nice to see her work the regular hours of 9am to 5pm. 

Also, she didn’t have to wear her nursing uniform – which back in those days were still the white outfits with pinafores – not like the scrubs which are popular today.  She was very business casual and I loved seeing her all dressed up.

Lastly, she was actually bringing home an income to boast about.  For years, we had struggled and I know that working hard for her financial freedom was really important to our family.

She had always scraped whatever she could together to give me things, but when she finally had climbed the nursing ladder, she helped me with any and every college expense that she could. To this day, she is extremely generous to me and my family.

Shane & Grammy
Before I had finished college, my mom knew that she wanted a change of life.  Not one to really love the urban setting of New Jersey, my mom and her then fiancĂ© Rob moved to New Mexico sight unseen.

They arrived in Albuquerque at night and were less than thrilled with the town when the sun came out. 

Out of sheer fate, my mom interviewed for a psychiatric RN position over the phone in another small New Mexican town, and got it.  Sight unseen, they moved to Pinos Altos, NM, and it was the perfect fit for her.

She lives in an old adobe home -- built after the civil war by a doctor called the "Fighting Doctor" -- which she is currently renovating.  My mom has a few acres, a horse, a donkey, dogs, cats, chickens and peacock who recently ran away from home. 

Her house is like coming home.  There is something so liberating about walking out her door and seeing such intimate nature -- with the mountains so far, yet looming so large you feel like you can just touch them.  The silence, which is deafening, until you get used to the sound of the wind -- and nothing else -- in your ears (unless my mom is playing Patsy Cline and Emmylou Harris among others on her sound system.

My mom has lived her Western lifestyle for more than 20 years now.  She has settled into the rustic way of life and it suits her quite well.  She has held her same nursing position for more than two decades now and, once again, she got the bug to change things up.

Recently, she applied and was hired for a lateral promotion.  She is transitioning from the mental health field to discharge planning, which is a new trend in nursing that is here to stay.

I am so proud of her accomplishments and her new promotion at work.  She worked extremely hard on her days off to be considered for this new role.

I know that this is an exciting time for my mom. So, along with her birthday and this new job, she is starting off the year in a very wonderful place.

Happy Birthday Mom!

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