I was never one of the nurses who counted down the years, months, weeks, days, hours, the minutes till retirement. I think I must have loved my job. If it was so intolerable that I have to do the counting, I am sure I would have quit and found another job. I hit such a critical point early in my career. After suffering enough doctor and head nurse abuse, I quit right then without another backup job. I was never afraid of not finding work.

Nursing must be was what I was supposed to do for I found myself back in it not long after. I was aghast. I thought it was not where I want to be again. I never thought of myself being the ministering angel. I was definitely not the lady with the lamp type. I entered the profession solely to help me develop confidence with people. I was a shy timid wallflower. What better job than being a nurse in a hospital?

I think I fulfilled my goal of gaining confidence. My second job in nursing was in a large university teaching hospital with many departments and people. I got some backbone and learned to deepen my voice. I tried to cut out my squeaky ‘excuse me(s) after being told by a kindly resident. “For heaven’s sake, Lily, speak up and don’t say excuse me,” he chided. “Be more assertive!” With time I became that. I was not quite as tough as nails but neither was I soft as marshmallows.

Over the years, I must have turned Florence like. Once upon a time, I had hoped to regale stories from my years upon retirement. But to my dismay when the time came, I held no memories nor the desire to recall them. They were all bad.I was in full anxiety. Now some time has passed and so too, my PTSD. Yup, it’s my own diagnosis of my post retirement predicament. Well, I am/was a nurse. I know or should know the symptons.

A few pleasant memories are seeping back. I don’t need to feel tough as nails anymore. I’m hoping to feel soft as a marshmallow. I remember some of the reasons why I stayed in the profession. It is the soft whispers of the patients in the night. “Thank you.” ” You have such a gentle touch.” I go from bed to bed and room to room with my torch. I bend over a bed. I straighten a blanket. I fluff a pillow. In the dark, a voice asked me, “Did your mother ever tell you how pretty you are?”

How could I not love that? I melt like a marshmallow.





Do you have days when you hear a song over and over in your head?  Today, I am hearing Willie Nelson’s To all the girls I’ve loved before.  I’m singing and singing it to myself over and over.  Perhaps I need to love myself again…all those fractured splinters of my being, past and present.

How did I arrive here at this particular moment?  Who am I right now?  And where was I all this time, these 63 years?  They say that life is short but I don’t think so.  In these 63 years, I have traveled from the distant shores of Asia to a small town in the province of Saskatchewan in the northern country of Canada.  I have known the time before electricity in my home village in China.  I saw the first electric light bulb, dancing nakedly from the ceiling of a hotel in Canton when I was 6.

How fast the years sped by, just like a slide show!  First, there was grade one.  I did not even speak English then.  When I had to go to the bathroom, I just got up and went.  How do you ask permission when you don’t know how?  Good thing I knew where the bathroom was.  Oh, the things that lingered on in our memories!

Here I am today at 63, sitting in the comfort of my sun room.  There is electricity.  There is running water.  There is WiFi.  There is iPhone.  There is Candy Crush Saga.  Do you know that you can give Life there?  I am tap tapping away at my keyboard, wondering about the how of all these things.

The slideshow plays again.  I am 16.  How young and dreamy-eyed I look.  And look at those earrings! They look good enough to eat.  Another slide forward and it is grade 12   graduation.  The girls are all dressed in their long gowns and white gloves.  Our hair are coiffed by hairdressers in Lloyminister, a city some 30 miles away.  We are feeling so grown up and important, not realizing that we were still very much wet behind the ears.

The years passed.  I went to university.  I dropped out of university.  I went to business college and became a secretary, much to the disappointment of my public school principal.  Then I got fired from my first job, just before Christmas.  I cried all the way as I drove home.  The shame of it.  What was I to do, if they didn’t give me work to do.   I answered the phone but how many calls are there to a broiler company?  I was bored with making coffee and getting donuts for the few employees there was.  So I sat there, smoking and blowing smoke rings.  Then, I answered the phone call….from someone for my job.  THAT’S how I knew.

But under every cloud there’s a silver lining.  I got a better job in a big office with a bigger salary.  But I got bored after a couple of years.  I got tired of being ‘cute’ and unable to advance to a higher level.  I wanted to an executive secretary, have my own office and sit in on meetings and take minutes.  Was that too much to ask?  Apparently it was.  I was just too cute and had no commanding presence.

The projector of life moves again.  The slide show stops and I am a nurse and in my late 20s, 30s, 40s…..Yikes!  Now I am in my 60s.  This leg of my journey has been long and it is done.  I have to cake to prove it.


I have many stories to tell once I am rested up.  There are many stories in Bedpan Alley.  You can mosey over to: if you are curious.  It is just up and still in construction with just my About page.