Just want to give you fair warning, there is not a profound message in this post.
Meet Hope Kirkendal. I sat next to her on the plane today on my way to San Diego to give a talk on opioids to a group of adjusters. At first I have to be honest I was a little annoyed with her. She couldn’t get her seat belt clicked. She kept asking me questions. She reached into the pocket of my seat back, thinking my talk I had planned to practice during the flight was a Southwest magazine. She asked me why I had a drink ticket and she did not. (looking back on that I now wish I had offered her mine as you will see later in this story.)
She wanted to take a nap and asked me to make sure I pinched her when they came around to get drink orders. By then seeing as I was a bit aggravated with her, I asked her, “How hard should I pinch?” She laughed and said only medium.
Sure enough she fell asleep and I had to make sure she got a drink order. As we sat there drinking our drinks she kept asking me about my talk I was giving and said, “You are in pain yourself aren’t you’? Which I thought was rather perceptive as I experience chronic pain from a diving accident on a daily basis.
She then shared with me she too was a nurse and retired when she was 86. This got me curious so we began talking in earnest. She shared she had been an Army nurse in the European theater in Belgium. She said she was in nursing school at the time of Pearl Harbor and the day after she went to the recruiting office and tried to join up. They asked her to finish nursing school because they were going to need nurses.
She served as an OR nurse and ended her service as a 1st Lieutenant. Like me she trained as a Diploma Nurse to start. She went back to school in her 50s and ultimately finished with a Masters Degree in Hospital Administration. She worked at Tampa Memorial and finished her career in the psychiatric field.
She lives independently to this day. On the plane with us were many sets of parents who were coming to San Antonio to see their children graduate from basic training (first stop on my way to San Diego). Everyone on the plane cheered for these parents. I then made sure they all knew they were in the presence of an Army Nurse from WWII. The applause on that plane sure made her smile.
She was coming to San Antonio for her little brother’s funeral – He was only 93. She is 98.
I normally try to keep to myself on planes. I was glad I did not do that this time.