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The Slice: Their storied pasts prove unforgettable

Tue., Sept. 18, 2012

Sometimes you change your policy.

My 95-year-old mother has long thought it advisable, important even, to inform medical personnel that she had been a nurse.

That’s fine, of course. But this tended to open the gates to reminiscing that usually struck me as, well, beside the point. I am just not convinced that every health care professional in Spokane needs to know the sprawling saga of the amazing Turners.

Perhaps, though, I am not the first to experience exasperation while in the company of a parent.

And to be fair, the doctors and nurses seem to be pretty interested in her having been an RN. Inevitably they wind up asking questions.

But not long ago, something changed. My mother, my wife and I were in an examining room, waiting for the doctor who would take a look at my mom. My mother was tired and not saying anything.

A nurse, a personable young man, was there with us. Suddenly I felt the need to make sure he realized that my mother was not just another walker-using old lady.

“Mom was an Army Air Corps nurse during World War II,” I said. “She met my dad at a bomber base.”

I have done this several times since. It would be sort of funny if my mom now suggested to me that maybe I should try to focus more on the reason for her appointment.

When my dad was alive and I felt that some stranger dealing with him needed to see him as a real person, I would find a context in which to trot out bio bits.

“During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was a navigator in a B-52 flying in big circles just outside Soviet air space.”

“On a bombing run over Tobruk, a German anti-aircraft shell-burst almost flipped over his B-24.”

“He always cut up those plastic six-pack rings so some little animal at the landfill wouldn’t get ensnared in one.”

And touting my mother-in-law is easy.

“Once, during the Depression, when she was just a girl, she used a shotgun to discourage some thief from stealing her family’s coal.”

I guess we all know these white-haired people have had multi-dimensional lives, that they haven’t always been slow and frail.

But when you love them, you don’t want there to be any chance that someone might forget.

Today’s Slice question: What do you tell people about your parents?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Seen in Usk: Sign for “Fier wood.”

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