Tuesday, May 24, 2022
May 24, 2022

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Everybody Has a Story: Late night phone call changes course of life


I had a degree in geology. Those were just rocks. I was at the top of the class. I wanted something more. I had dreamed my whole life about doing something in health care. Not rocks. I liked studying them, but they were not inspiring.

The Army had a program to become a nurse. That was the ticket! I spent three years in the Army, and received a preliminary acceptance letter from Clark College to enter its licenced practical nursing program.

Because I had the gift of gab, I thought I could talk my way into the class. I talked a lot to June, the lady at Clark College who administered the tests.

The Army mistakenly thought I had received final acceptance, and sent me to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, for combat medic training, as part of eventually becoming an LPN in the Army.

Two months later, I was just getting back from the training in San Antonio. I was in my fatigues with my duffel bag on my shoulder. I was tired and just wanted to rest. It was late on a Sunday, the night before Clark’s LPN program started.

The rotary telephone was ringing. I said to myself at first, “Let it ring.” But something clicked in me that this call was important.

The front door was stuck as usual, but I shouldered through it hard and caught the call on perhaps the last ring. It was June, the lady from the nursing program. She said she had been trying to let me know that I was the last person accepted into the LPN program, with nine others still on a waiting list to get in. She said she knew I was interested from all our prior conversations, and this was my last chance. I would not have gotten the call the next day.

Catching that phone call on Sunday night changed the course of my life. I was elated. I received full-duty pay, a housing and food allowance, plus tuition and books. I used my degree to become a registered nurse and a captain in the Army. It paved the way for my lifetime career until I retired as a corrections nurse.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

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