Saturday, July 25, 2015

True Story

Should be a historical marker there to commemorate the event. 

John and I met on July 25, 1978. Whenever we tell the story of that meeting, our family and friends crack up laughing in disbelief. But it's the gospel truth, really it is. I'm a weirdo person and so it is appropriate that my introduction to my future husband would be weirdo as well.

Oh, hey! Today's July 25th. Huh. Want to hear the story? Of course you do. So get yourself some popcorn and a beverage and settle in. It's a long story:

So I was a newly graduated RN and worked on a medical/cardiac step down unit in a small hospital. And on July 25th, had my first of those experiences that all nurses don't forget - the first death of one of her patients.

She was an elderly lady, sweet and very, very ill. When her congestive heart failure stopped her heart, there was nothing that our Code Blue team of physicians and nurses could do to revive her. And so after the decision was made to discontinue resuscitation efforts, the room cleared of personnel and equipment, and I was left alone with my patient.

I knew what to do. In fact, I was clutching a copy of our policy and procedure manual opened to the "Patient Care After Death" page as I looked at her white and very still face. So I methodically followed the procedure, the final step requiring me to escort her to the morgue. As I rode the elevator back up to my nursing unit, tasks completed, gradually my Julia the professional persona faded and Julia the person resurfaced. I felt as though there should have been something more that we could have done to extend this sweet wonderful woman's life.....and as I returned to the nursing station and began documentation on her chart, I held back tears.

When my shift was over, I sat in my little brown car (I affectionately called her Woodtick) mulling over the events of the day. I thought about the fragility of human life, and despaired that nothing we did during our life mattered because eventually WE WILL ALL DIE. .::with forearm thrown dramatically over my brow::.

Yes. I was overreacting.

I didn't want to go back to my apartment. It was late afternoon on a beautiful summer day, and a nearby little lake with a swimming beach beckoned. I remembered that I had one of my mom's old-lady style tank swimming suits in my car's back seat. I had borrowed it the last time I visited my parents and it was rolled up in a beach towel ready to return to Mom. I don't want to run home and get my suit. I'll wear Mom's, I thought. It's baggy and faded but I'm not going to see anyone that I know anyway.

Sure thing.

I grabbed the suit and towel, walked back into the hospital lobby's restroom and changed; headed back to Woodtick and zipped over to the lake. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that the main beach was crowded with teenagers and little kids. Not a good setting for my need to ponder the MEANING OF LIFE AND THE EVENTUALITY OF DEATH. So I hiked along the trail that led to the other side of the lake and a smaller beach.

Ahhh. It was deserted. I spread out my towel and waded into the lake. I was floating on my back deep in gloom and doom thought when I heard someone splashing my way. Doing an expert crawl stroke, I might add. He popped his head up from the water.

"Are you ok?"

Duh. I'm fine.

"Well, my friend and I saw you swimming alone, and then we lost sight of you and were worried that you had drowned or something!"

I laughed and assured them that I was perfectly Ok. He and his friend swam back to the beach with me and sat we down on the sand.

Oh, great. I thought. I meet two good-looking guys and I'm wearing my mother's baggy blue swimming suit. Just my luck...

We exchanged names all around and chatted about things. John and Scott told me that they were seniors at the local college. I shared that I was an RN.

"Gee. You don't look old enough to be a nurse!" John exclaimed.

"Well. You look too OLD to be in college!" I shot back.

He sputtered through some kind of awkward apology and we moved on to other topics during which we discovered that we all were the same age. The three of us gabbed for the rest of the afternoon, some of it spent bobbing in the cool lake, some stretched out on the beach. Eventually I decided it was time to head home and as I was shaking the sand out of my towel, John cleared his throat nervously.

"So. Do you want to go out tonight?"

What the hell, I thought. I don't know this guy from Adam and for all I know he could be an axe murderer but it doesn't matter because eventually WE WILL ALL DIE.

"Um. Ok." I said. And gave him my address.

As I walked back around the lake and got into my car, I was having serious second thoughts. What was I thinking?! I had never let a guy pick me up in a public place EVER. But I had no way to contacting him to cancel out, so I went home, showered and changed.

The doorbell rang, and John was at the door. He looked at me, was silent for a moment, and then asked, "Is Julia here?"

Are you kidding me?! I thought. What a dope!

"No, she left with some guy that picked her up at the beach." I said sarcastically.

He looked disappointed. Then after a moment, said, "So. What are YOU doing tonight?"

Geez. This is probably a really bad idea, I mused. I managed a polite fake laugh thinking that surely he was trying to be funny in an extremely weirdo way, grabbed my purse, and we headed out to his car. Which was a huge blue station wagon with a canoe strapped to the top.

We met Scott at a downtown bar and chatted while we sipped beer and munched on peanuts. As Scott and I laughed about our meeting at the lake, John brightened perceptibly (he later told me that this was the point that he realized I was actually JULIA) and joined the conversation, eventually contributing funny and intelligent comments.

Maybe not so goofy after all. And very nice looking......

Later as the guys dropped me off at my apartment, John conveniently dropped his wallet (he still insists that it was an accident). I noticed it as they left, grabbed the wallet and tried to get their attention to return it, but they had already left the parking lot. I could see the canoe zipping along the street and realized that I wouldn't be able to flag them down.

So I went back inside, and immediately went through the entire contents of John's wallet.

Hey. I KNOW y'all would do it too, wouldn't you?

Interesting, I thought. No picture of a girlfriend. Hm.

The next evening he returned to pick up his wallet, and the history.

Thirty seven years later, here we are and when John tells the story, his explanation for not recognizing me when he met me at my apartment is, "Well, I didn't recognize her with her clothes on!"

Oh, John......the weirdo-ness never went away, did it? But I'm glad you eventually recognized me, my hon. I can't imagine what my life would have been without you.


Unknown said...

Oh, Julia! Too funny. I can see that you two are perfect for each other. Hugs.

Nicole said...

I laughed and teared up, too! Thanks for sharing. :)

Amy Junod said...

Awe, so sweet a story that is. Happy First Sight Day!

LM said...

Great story! I need a laugh in my day. Thanks for sharing.
Sounds like you are a great match.