Saturday, November 27, 2010


The most important thing I've ever done, is plunk my ass down and just sit.

I learned the importance of sitting early on in my nursing life.  On a busy floor, with twenty something residents to take care of, my guilt had issue with the fact that I didn't have much time to spend with each person.


Instead of standing over them, looking impatiently down while I ticked off in my brain, the gazillion tasks that awaited me; I'd pull up a chair, meet them at eye level, and take a load off.

Win for my lazy ass.  Win for old person feeling I'd made special time for them.

I know.  Sitting is my favorite.

Marian has been sitting across from our nurse's station for eight years, I've been sitting across from her for three and a half of those.

She wasn't sure of me at first.  After we'd become friends, and she'd declared me a; "Hot Shit", she told me;

"You know what Tulp?  I thought you were a total bitch when I first met you."

"That is because you are very perceptive.  And a total bitch yourself."

"HA!!  You're a hot shit you know that?"

Marian was never like the other residents.  Alert and oriented and in love with Elvis, she would sit and complain about everyone;

"This one is so loud"

"That one stinks to high heaven!" 

"Please get this one away from me!  How can you stand these people?"

Depending on who was working with me, and if a look around proved the coast to be clear, I'd tell her just how it is;

"I can't fucking stand half of them either. But the money supports my wine habit, so here I am."

"You're a hot shit you know that?"

It was always so easy to get a laugh out of her, and what a big hearty joyful laugh.  Her laughter became one of my goals each shift.

"All these kids smoking.  Tsk tsk tsk.  You don't smoke do you Tulp?"

"Only Crack Marian.  Cigarettes are for pussies."

Her big shoulders shuddering, hands over her mouth spitting laughter; "Anyone ever tell you you're a hot shit?"

Marian had a not so easy life.  Thanks to a 'rotten bastard' of a husband, and a diagnosis that caused her to behave inappropriately at times; a diagnosis that was challenging to be the child of, difficult to be a friend to, misunderstood by many.

Her daughter Sandy spoke of a childhood of uncertainty, scary moments, embarassment, shame even.  Sandy also knew her job.  To take care of her sick mother.  She kicked ass at it.  Visiting often.  Bringing Marian her favorite treats.  Keeping her red purse stocked with red lipstick.

In the warm weather months, aside from meal times and dialysis appointments, you'd find Marian sitting outside, in front of the facility, watching the comings and goings of patients, visitors, workers.

When I had time, I'd sit with her.  She loved hearing about my childhood, my family.  Maybe because she knew she wasn't an easy mother to be a child of, she asked about my mother a lot; What was she like?  Strict?  Loving?  Happy?  What did she do for fun?

"Fun? My mother wouldn't know fun if it fucked her in the ass."

"Bah!!!  Oh Tulp. You and me.  We would have been great friends.  We would have raised some hell you and me."

"Oh Marian.  I could get fired for just about every conversation we've ever had."

I so could have.  For using my favorite colorful words, for telling her many dirty little secrets.  For sitting in her room and chatting like girlfriends do when I should have been out at the desk doing paperwork.  For tucking her into bed, and pulling her Elvis blanket over her, and making sure his face was positioned just so;

*Snicker* "You like Elvis Tulp?"

"This bedazzled jump suit Vegas Elvis? No. 'Jailhouse Rock' Elvis on the other hand..."

"You wouldn't kick him out of bed eh?"

"Bed, floor, kitchen counter, wherever!"


The end.

We all knew it was coming.  I knew a month ago. 

A week ago it was official.  Time to stop dialysis.

Last Saturday, after I got the news, I went down to her room to check on her.  She was surrounded by family, biggest grin on her face;

"Tulp!  This is my friend Tulp!"  I grimmaced at the shortened version of my name that I let only Marian get away with, nobody else ever calls me Tulp,

"So you heard the news?  I'm going to be leaving soon."


"Yeah.  I heard."

Walking out, I could hear her telling the room;

"That Tulp, she's a hot shit."

I ignored as many duties as I could get away with for the next four days.  Spending as much time as I could sitting with Marian. 

By Monday, though she couldn't get out of bed, she was alert enough to enjoy our administrator's Elvis impersonation; he'd gone out, rented a costume and made a fool of himself to put a smile on Marian's face.

By Tuesday, she wasn't waking up.  The bottle of morphine never left my pocket that night. 

My relief had the forethought to be an hour late that night, giving me another hour of sitting I wouldn't otherwise have had.  Sitting and waiting for the end. Wanting to be there for it.  To witness it.  To be the one to open the window and let her out.

Wednesday morning a text from a fellow nurse;

"She's still here."

Checking in all day.

Still here.

Coworker Sally whom I normally babysit for on Wednesday evenings tells me she doesn't need me sit for her;

"Oh good.  Gonna put the kids to bed and come and sit with Marian."

A few minutes later, a text from Sally;

"Marian just passed. Sandy with her.  Elvis 'I can't help falling in love' playing.  Just perfect."

Perfect yes. 

More perfect?

If I'd been sitting with her too.



  1. " open the window and let her out." I will remember that, because I will need it.

  2. You are a hot shit, Tulp.

    Who nearly always makes me cry with your work posts.

  3. Have I told you how awesome you are? You brighten up the lives of these people, you brighten up a spot in the world...And you make people cry. Damn you. You and your awesome awesomeness.

  4. I figured you'd be writing this one today.

  5. You are so strong and brave in being a friend to people in the last days. You were also blessed to know Marion and she you.

    I am such a pussy.

  6. marian hit the nail on the head, you are a hot shit. i'm sorry for your loss; happy that you got to spend time w/ an awesome woman and share dirty secrets w/ her; and glad she had you in her life.

  7. I'm grateful that you do the sitting part. It's beautiful. Thank you.

  8. that made me smile while tears ran down my cheeks ... I remember sitting with my great grandma, waiting after her stroke ... my husband and I'd left to take him home so he could go to work and so I could grab extra clothes ... about half way home my dad called to tell me that she had passes ... that my aunt had opened her room window and told her it was okay to go ... I was sad that I hadn't been sitting with her at that time, but so thankful that she wasn't alone ... I would like to think that you gave Marians family that as well; you gave her the time that they couldn't

  9. hot shit, indeed. i want the nursing stories book. pronto.

  10. It's not selfish- it's about you and Marian. It's beautiful- but Don't let it go to your head (or your ass if you are sitting). Hope that you had a great weekend altogether Tulp.(I like that)

  11. We are at the hospital almost every damn day. Some of those nurses are our new BFFs, but none of them sit! Hannah would love that! I have to agree with everyone else. You are awesome.

    I think your post about the passing of your friend was perfect. It was about how you feel and we all read your blog for that.

  12. This is so weird because I happen to be sitting RIGHT NOW!

    You're so good at what you do. It's really awesome. And you really are one hot shit!!

  13. It's completely selfish and completely selfless.
    You know I totally get it.

    Wish you had been there to open the window for her, you hot shit.


  14. Thank you for sharing that with me. It brought tears to my eyes and you were with her I'm sure.

  15. The last thing I would ever think about this post is, "Wow. That whole post was about Tulpen, not her friend." I'm walking away from your blog feeling like I know Marian a little bit, thanks to you.

    RIP, Marian. I hope you and Elvis are up there having one hell of a party.

  16. I didn't think the post was about you, but about both of you.

    You're a hot shit, but we all knew that from way back when.

  17. note to self: include "she wouldn't know fun if it fucked her in the ass." in post asap.

  18. Stop making me like old people. I was raised in a house with my grandfather until I was 16 and hated his guts. The elderly have never been my favorite as a result...glad to hear about the good ones.

  19. fuck. this is beautiful. thank you for not taking it down.

  20. I'm sorry about Marian! She was a hot shit too. Thanks for sharing this amazing lady.

  21. I'm sorry you lost your Marian. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  22. I am so grateful to have read this. Everybody has a story, and the lucky ones have hot shits in their lives.

  23. I don't get to know my patients as well as you do because they are not with us as long but I have had patients that touch my heart like this. They are special people and I am better for knowing them.

  24. Opening the window to let her out. Love it and I love how you make time and sit with the residents. If I live long enough to be in a home for old geezers, I hope to have someone as kind as you by my side. I'll need a saint. I will.

  25. RIP, hot shit marian. Rest In Peace, with the other hot shits.

  26. Now you've gone and made me cry. Damn you. I think this is a perfect way to remember Marion. After all, our memories are what keep people alive in our hearts, not all the shit they did when we weren't there. RIP Marion.

  27. Losing a friend simply sucks. I am sorry for your loss but glad that you and Marian had time together...shame you couldn't have shared her better times. She sounded like a hot shit in her ailing condition so I can imagine she rocked it in her younger years.

    And thanks for further affirming my belief in the value of sitting. That's something that makes me want to raise my glass and lower my ass...into a seat.

    Hoping the great Marian memories can float you through the rough days.

  28. You get it, Tulpen, old people are people.

    You get it.

    I worked in a nursing home while in high school, and college.

    They have fantastic stories to tell,and they are still people. And we will all be there, on the other side, too.

    And you are a hot shit, Tulpen, I done been telling you that...

  29. Not selfish at all! You showed us your relationship with her from your point of view. Loved it!

    You are totally Hot Shit! If I ever get stuck in a crappy hospital, I hope I have someone cool to shoot the shit with like you.

  30. Is it safe to guess that a 'hot shit' is somewhat akin to a "pig fucker??"

    I think you are 'hot shiznit' as well!!!



  31. It's not selfish to write how another person has touched your life. Marian made an impact on you, which you're demonstrating.

    It sounds to me as though Marian was lucky to have been surrounded by so much love in the days before her passing.

  32. Gorgeous post!

    (Don't worry if anything's about you - this is your blog.)

  33. what a great post. marian was so lucky to have you, and i know you made the rough days and the slow days fun and bearable for you. you are quite the nurse.

    normally i can't stand doctors, but if i get a good nurse it makes all the difference in the world.

  34. I'm confused, and obviously a little slow, where do you work? Old folk's home? Is it even ok to call them that these days? Prob called home for the age deficient.

  35. It's so funny how we are our worst critics. I didn't see anything selfish about this post at all. I loved it.
    PS- The line about your mother? Made me snort. Same exact thing could be said about mine. Couldn't be more perfect of a description.
    PPS- I was up your way over Thanksgiving at my sister in law's. The one who lives near the cranberry bogs? LOL! Thought about you and hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday

  36. This is not selfish. It's beautiful.

    PS I'm not crying. I think my contact is just messed up.

    PPS Maybe it's allergies.

    PPPS xoxo

  37. I don't think there was an ounce of selfishness in that post, Tulpen. It was absolutely beautiful just the way you wrote it...

    And hot shit?! You are that and a bag of chips!

  38. my condolences Tulpen. your post brought your friend to life for your readers. She sounds like a hot ticket.

  39. Just found your blog while strolling around One of my Favs .

    I have only one regret....
    ...that it toke me toooo effing long to plug into your good sh!gg!ty!

    Now, I'm a follower....I'll never miss an effing post again!

    Dude. I'm Just Effing Saying!

  40. Powerful details and descriptions. Thank you for sharing. She was truly lucky to have spent so much time with you, and you with her. I'm sorry you weren't there in the last moments, but in her heart she had you with her, I'm sure.

  41. I love this, "So you heard the news? I'm going to be leaving soon."

    She was ready to go and happy to be on her way, most likely due to the fact that she had a "hot shit" helping her find her way home.


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