Monday, May 17, 2010


Kathy had waist-length dark red hair and a temper to match. The hair stayed hidden beneath her pyramidal nursing cap. The temper was harder to hide.

As second shift charge nurse, Kathy was ultimately responsible for everything that happened on our 37-bed surgical unit. She couldn't have been more than 24 or 25 at the time and about as lonely as they come. Shy and reserved, she never dated anyone but talked (rarely) about an ex who had broken her heart.

Through Kathy I became friends with Linda, of broken leg fame in the Trauma Car story. Linda worked on the next unit over and had been a year or two behind Kathy in the nursing program at Eastern Kentucky University. They had a lot of mutual friends from partying in Richmond.

A month or two after I started working with her, Kathy invited me, Linda and others to her place to hang out after work. She shared a two-bedroom apartment in a four-plex off Wilson Downing Road with two indoor-only cats. We sat around listening to music, playing cards and drinking beer until the sun came up.

Going to Kathy's after work became the thing to do several nights a week. She'd stack 8 or 10 albums on the stereo (Billy Joel, Peter Brown, Seals & Crofts & Christopher Cross come immediately to mind) and bring out the playing cards. Spades was the game of choice. On nights it was just me and Kathy, we played Canasta. Whatever the game we played for blood.

Sometimes Kathy cooked. It was always chili. She'd get inspired and toss interesting and/or unusual ingredients like peanut butter and cheddar cheese into the pot. The cats, Bad-ass and Little Kitty, frequently sampled from the pot as it stewed on the stove. We didn't care.

One night the three of us went to Jefferson Davis Inn to play pinball. Pinball machines were plentiful because video games hadn't yet been invented. Kathy got trashed, which wasn't all that unusual. What was unusual was for usually shy Kathy to take a liking to a scruffy looking dude none of us had ever met before.

Linda and I nearly fainted when Kathy asked him to come back to her apartment with us. Turns out, he had only recently completed his sentence for some little thing he dismissed with the wave of a hand. Within a week he had moved in with Kathy. She stopped asking us over shortly thereafter.

I transferred to the Emergency Room for the excitement and didn't see much of Kathy for a while. She got fired a few months later...for pilfering narcotics from the unit. I heard she lost her license, too.

Kathy was the kind of nurse you wanted looking after you--smart, capable, and professional. I can't imagine what happened. We've googled her unusual last name without success. Linda and I have often wondered where she is and if she was able to turn her life back around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow - I can't believe you admitted to living a pre video game existence. Even before Pac-Man or Space Invaders?

Follow CrotchetyMan on Twitter