August, 2006 Archive

August 5, 2006, 7:56 am

And I Owe It All to You: Grace L. Kendall (August 10,1891-June 15,1969)


Four generations.

That’s me at age 2, sitting on my dad’s lap. He was 20. My grandmother, Dorothy is behind us. She was 43.

This post is about the lady in the front.

My great-grandmother, Grace Lippincott Kendall.


In this photo, taken in 1959, she was 66.

She was born in 1891, twenty six years after Lincoln’s assassination and the end of the Civil war. Three weeks after the USA Sioux war ended and twenty years before women were given the right to vote in the state of California.

Mark Twain would still be alive for another nineteen years and was traveling in Europe at the time of her birth.

Chester Arthur was President. (I had to look that up.)


She wasn’t a nurse.

In fact, she was a school teacher. Taught twelve grades in one classroom.

At twenty-three, she married a man twenty-three years older and had my grandmother that same year.

I have the wedding photo album. In it is a photo of her great grandparents. So I have a photo of a couple of my great, great, great grandparents.


And I know this because she kept meticulous notes on every single photo taken, including the names of every student in one of her class pictures.

Twenty-three years later, she was a widow.

At one time, she was the postmaster for Lafayette, California.

In fact, I have the flag that flew over that post office on November 11, 1918: Armistice Day.

And no, she wasn’t related to the Lippincotts responsible for the Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice.

She was, however, responsible for a much more modest contribution to the nursing profession.



Ladies take parasols when they go on walks to protect their skin from the sun.”

“A book is like a friend, you don’t treat your friends badly so don’t treat your books that way.”

“People will judge you by your penmanship. A sloppy signature means a sloppy person.”

“Always say hello to your host and hostess first, then you can go on and play.”

And we did, my sisters and I. We used parasols, when we took walks with her. We treated our books with respect. We always said hello to my grandmother and grandfather first, before running into Grandma Grace’s huge bedroom in the back of the house, not to emerge again until dinnertime.

And to this day, I will rewrite an entire nursing note if it is not up to my/her standards of penmanship perfection.


Every Sunday.

Every Sunday in my conscious memory for eleven years we spent at the home of my grandparents. Grandma Grace lived with them.

She had treats stashed everywhere in her room. She would dole them out judiciously, all through the day.

But never enough to “spoil” our dinner.

She had eleven different bottles of perfume on her dresser. We’d mix them up and make our own “scents”. Her sense of smell must have been impaired because we stunk to high heaven.

We must have. Everyone else in the house told us we did.

She’d let us play “nurse” in her room. I was the nurse with my cap made out of binder paper and held onto my head with paperclips. My sisters were the “patients” in the “hospital” under the card table.

The only time she kicked us out was during Perry Mason. I knew I had crossed a milestone when she let me stay in and watch it with her.

And the only Sunday we didn’t spend in the room, and the only time I saw her cry was when her best friend and companion, Lillian Dorrington, passed away.


She had books. Lots and lots of books.

I read the entire “Anne of Green Gables” series when I was seven.

I read “Gone With the Wind” when I was eight. I understood it when I was twenty.

She had Rudyard Kipling but I wasn’t interested in those.

Every year she would buy books for my birthday.

“Little Women” – “every young girl should have that book in her collection!”, she told me.

I bought my oldest daughter her copy when she was seven months old.

The Trixie Belden series. Some of you may remember that.

To her everlasting credit, she never bought me a single “Nancy Drew” mystery.

I hated Nancy Drew.


On July 16, 1966, two days after my 9th birthday. I received a gift of two books from Grandma Grace. One was “Cherry Ames, Student Nurse” and the other was “Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse”.

I spent that day sitting on the front porch reading.

That’s the day I announced my intention of becoming a nurse.

“It’s a good profession,” said Grandma. “Something you can always fall back on if you need to. You should always be able to support yourself.”

A pre-feminist feminist? Never really looked at it that way. She worked outside the home. Could remember a time when women could not vote.

Somehow I just can’t picture my Grandma as a radical.

She didn’t like the Beatles.


For the next nine years of my life, everything I did was done and planned with the idea of nursing school in my future. Every class, every project. And of course, more Cherry Ames to fan the flames.

I was accepted into the first and only program I applied to.

An ADN program at a local junior college.

I graduated in June of 1978.

My entire lifestyle, the ability to give my children a private education, own a home…in fact the trajectory of my life really began that summer day in 1966, on a front porch in San Lorenzo, California, reading a book given to me for my birthday.

By Grandma Grace.


Grandma never lived to see my dream of being a nurse become a reality.

She was stricken with the Hong Kong flu in 1969, developed complications and died as she had always said she wanted to go, peacefully in her sleep. Mercifully, because they also discovered she had cancer in her bones.

At eleven years old, death was quite foreign to me. At my grandmother’s request, there was no service. She was cremated and buried in a family plot in Lafayette.

She was just gone.

And I was just numb.

I don’t think I truly grieved for her until I was standing there in my cap and my white uniform receiving my nursing pin at graduation nine years after she died.

She should have been there.

I know I was thinking about her that day.

I never got the chance to thank her.


This August 10th will mark the 115th anniversary of her birth. She had two grandchildren, has five great-granchildren, 17 great-great grandchildren and four great-great-great grandchildren as of this posting.

My oldest daughter was named Lillian; I think she would have liked that.

My cousin Tim named a daughter after her, so her name lives on in the family line.

And every time I touch a patient or hold a hand or make someone laugh at work or manage to hold it together for that last hour of a hellacious twelve-hour shift, it means that my Grandma Grace is still making an impact in this world thirty-seven years after her death.

And I’m proud of that.

I like to think there was a joyous reunion with my dad when he passed away six years ago.

And when my day comes, I’ll finally have the chance to say:

Thanks, Grandma!

For everything.

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7:34 am

The Valley of the Shadow


It’s 0610 and I am sitting in a Starbucks blogging!

That was not a misprint.

I work 1500 – 0330, the worst shift in the history of, well, shifts!

The problem? I’m not tired until three or four hours after I get home. Usually I am blogging or reading until I get tired.

Well today my youngest had to be somewhere at 0600.

Ha! I’ll just go to Starbucks and do my “thang” there early today!

Well, I can tell you this, the cushy chairs are all vacant at this hour and I don’t have to stare anyone out of their seat, as is my usual way of obtaining the best seat by the plug.

I could do without the reggae blasting on the speakers.

Not that I have anything against reggae. Just not at 0610 in the am. Where’s Dylan or the Motown sound when you need them?

Oh, you like the statue? I swear it was patterned after me. Except I’d be sitting on that hot water bottle.


Reminder: Change of Shift will be guest hosted at It’s A Nursing Thing on Thursday so be sure to get your post in via Blog Carnival or to Intelinurse at intelinurse2b at aol dot com.


My only experience with Hospice was personal.

Two weeks before she died of lung cancer, my mother-in-law was under the care of a hospice nurse.

The nurse wasn’t there 24 hours a day, but she was there to answer questions and educate the family on what to expect as Monica approached the end of her life journey.

Medications were provided to keep Monica pain and anxiety free, as her hypoxia and hypercalcemia took their toll that last week.

She died with all nine children and the majority of her then-born grandchildren at the house by her side. Peacefully. The hospice nurse was there, quietly in the background, providing support when needed, assisting with the post-mortem care and plans.


I’m not sure what has happened in the last sixteen years since we experienced hospice care.

Patients are being brought into ERs by Code 3 ambulances with “everything” being done when they are hospice patients.

These are patients whose deaths were imminent and expected.

Why are the families, pardon the vernacular, “freaking out” as the end comes and calling the paramedics?

Often, they don’t even have a copy of any DNR papers and so the medics are obliged to do “everything”.

What is the purpose of hospice if you are going to be brought Code 3 to the hospital and subjected to invasive procedures, not the least of which is intubation?

What are hospice nurses teaching families about the death process, about what to expect at the end, about what they can do to lessen suffering or decrease the anxiety the patient may be experiencing?

I know there are good palliative care nurses out there, and some of them must work in the hospice home setting.

Is the teaching being done, but the family unable to accept the concept when the death of their loved one is actually becoming a reality?

Do they feel overwhelmed? Feel obligated to get “help” at that crucial time? Change their minds at the last minute? Are they scared? Unable to accept the inevitable?

I was under the impression that hospice nurses were educated and available to help during the death transition.

So why are so many end-of-life hospice patients showing up in the ER?

What am I missing here?

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August 3, 2006, 7:24 pm

2,996 Bloggers Needed…Will You Join?


On September 11, 2006, 2996 bloggers will each post a tribute to one of the victims of 9/11.

More bloggers are needed. You will receive information on your assigned person, allowing you to post a tribute.

I’m participating.

Will you join me and 2995 other bloggers in posting a tribute to a victim of the 9/11 attacks?

Here is direct link: 2996.


Read »

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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