PERSONAL BAGGAGE
A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Is your character Maureen based on a real person?

Answer

Maureen is not based on one real person, but she combines the best characteristics of my favorite nurses. Penny, with the quirky traits she and I share, meets her challenges and overcomes her shortcomings much better than I have. All the characters seem real to me because I have been working with them for so long, but they are all composits, put together in my mind, of parts from many nurses, doctors, and patients I have known.

The characters in PERSONAL BAGGAGE never took over and acted out a story for me, as I have heard other authors say their characters did. I had to work through the mystery by myself.

Search result for 'Maureen' in PERSONAL BAGGAGE

Chapter 2: Chapter Two
"...Setting her alarm, she looked forward to spending tomorrow with Maureen, who had been her friend for the past ten years. Maureen had cleaned and cooked for a doctor’s household through high school and after graduation had worked as an aide in the now-demolished old City Hospital while studying to become a licensed practical nurse. She had taught ..."

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Chapter 3: Chapter Three
"...Enroute to meet Maureen, the musical phrase that plagued Penny increased its tempo, making her conscious of her fingers, playing the notes on the steering wheel as if it were a keyboard. She raised the radio’s volume until Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” filled the car and she could feel the thump ..."
"...sprawling fortress shrouded in mist. Penny circled behind it, continuing to the end of the parking area because of a recent regulation requiring that employees park on the back row of the lot in order to leave the closer spaces for visitors. She pulled in just as Maureen Martin was getting out of her car. ..."
21.
"... closer spaces for visitors. She pulled in just as Maureen Martin was getting out of her car. Maureen greeted her with a sweeping gesture through the air, “You see this fog, don’t you?” “Hard to miss it!” “Count the fogs in August, and we’ll have that many snows this ..."
"...“Count the fogs in August, and we’ll have that many snows this winter.” Maureen said this every August. “We’re in for a hard one. Spiders’ nests are close to the ground and wooly worms have coats like bears.” Maureen’s mahogany eyes were framed by caramel skin and Bible-black hair straightened into a pageboy style that never moved out of place. ..."
32.
"... used as an entrance by doctors, each of whom had a key. In the tiny nurses’ lounge, lanky Penny and short, stocky Maureen dug through stacks of puke-green scrub uniforms for their sizes, suited up, and sipped hot coffee while they waited. Eager as babysitters to relinquish their charges when ..."
35.
"... and take care of desk work.” “We’ll do all right as long as those alarms stay on,” Maureen said. “You and I can look and know right away if it’s an emergency. Well, let’s see if night shift gave us the real picture. These are our babies now.” “I’m counting on you to tell ..."
"...“I’m counting on you to tell me if you notice anything I should tell a doctor.” Penny said this because Maureen, at times, seemed hesitant to overstep her role as LPN when Penny was the RN in charge, and yet Maureen’s years of experience and keen eyes often picked up information Penny missed. “I’ll start assessing up here and meet you in the back.” ..."
"...“I’m sorry.” Penny apologized and signaled Maureen for help, observing Mrs. Brown’s heart pattern on the monitor screen above the bed until Maureen arrived to stand across from her. They turned the patient back and forth, maneuvering the waterproof pad, which had wrinkled into a lump, back to its proper position under her hips, and ..."
"...With the assessments completed, Penny moved from bed to bed, raising each patient to a sitting position and passing out warm wash cloths and clean towels. The dietitian brought the breakfast cart and Maureen positioned over-bed tables and distributed food trays, removing lids, opening milk cartons, and offering assistance. Penny rolled the drug cart between the beds dispensing medicines, crushing some hard-to-swallow pills and handing them to Maureen to mix into bites of breakfast as she fed a patient. They were ..."
"...Maureen had learned young to get along with “white folks” and had taught Penny to grumble behind the backs of irritating people but to smile sweetly to their faces. Maureen could scowl and mouth silent words behind a cursing patient’s back, then deliver “Bless your heart” in a honeyed ..."
"...Maureen was extra nice to Brenda, who that morning displayed an afghan she had crocheted from the pieces of string that bound hospital sheets and towels into stacks when they returned from linen service. “This beats anything I’ve seen.” Maureen complimented her, then pumped her for interesting news ..."
"...Maureen listened to Brenda, her expression respectful, her dark eyes shifting occasionally in a reflective way. Maureen was a walking encyclopedia of people who had passed through the hospital. She remembered their names, what they looked like, what had been wrong with them, and the dates and details ..."
67.
"... retired Navy nurse, a lieutenant commander...could probably teach us all a thing or two.” Penny and Maureen looked down when Dr. Ghent stumbled. He was not wearing socks and his shoes didn’t match. “You were in a hurry, Dr. Willie.” Maureen pointed to his feet. He pulled up a pants ..."
68.
"... and Maureen looked down when Dr. Ghent stumbled. He was not wearing socks and his shoes didn’t match. “You were in a hurry, Dr. Willie.” Maureen pointed to his feet. He pulled up a pants leg and grinned. “Busy saving lives.” Penny delivered carbon copies of the new orders ..."
"...Maureen moved from bed to bed straightening the covers and asking the patients if they needed anything. She leaned over Penny and ran the second print-outs from each of the telemetry monitors. “It’s time for visitors and it’s my turn to post these strips at South Station, unless ..."
73.
"... right that minute! “Just tell the vultures to call the doctor if they ask about labs and X-ray results,” Maureen said. “Those people are looking for something to complain about; I think they feel guilty about the way they neglected Papa while he was at home.” Mr. Brown, husband of ..."
"...Mr. Brown, husband of the patient with an allergic reaction, was one of the visitors. He reeked of alcohol and ancient sweat, a combination which Maureen said, “would gag a maggot.” When his wife had been so swollen, he had threatened to kill the nurses if she died, but upon discovering his wife’s eyes open and her lips back to their normal size, he shook Penny’s hand and laughed. ..."
"...“I’m going to increase your oxygen so you can breathe easier.” The patient was receiving oxygen at two liters by nasal cannula, so she turned his flow meter up to five and called Maureen. Penny’s voice sounded louder than she had intended and Maureen was at her side immediately, looking down at the man’s bluish-tinged nail beds along with her. ..."
"...When Penny was new to the Unit, Maureen had counseled her to calm down. “Don’t get excited until I do–-I’ll tell you when.” This time, with her stethoscope against the young man’s back, Maureen confirmed what Penny had heard with wide eyes and bared teeth and Maureen remained at the bedside while Penny moved with ..."
87.
"... as you can.” The teenager fled. When Penny returned to Darryl Dodson’s bedside, Maureen had raised him to a sitting position and placed pillows under his arms. “If you’re okay here, I’ll go back and finish what I started,” Maureen said. Hansel Hall, Director of Respiratory ..."
94.
"... Penny called Life Flight and notified Ambulance Service while Maureen gathered Dodson’s belongings. Desperate to catch up on her charting, Penny documented the sequence of events, realizing with a start as she noted the time that it had been forty minutes since Dr. Lawrence arrived. In ..."
"...In answer to loud knocking at the back door, Maureen admitted two Emergency Medical Technicians with their stretcher and accompanied them to Dodson’s bedside. “We need to put you on a stretcher to move you from your bed, out the back door, across the lawn, and onto a helicopter,” Maureen explained. “I know it will be hard, ..."
97.
"... blades. Dr. Lawrence strode into the Unit from the hall and motioned the helicopter personnel into the nurses’ lounge while Penny and Maureen adjusted Dodson’s pillows and his portable oxygen and the EMTs collected his personal belongings and the copied chart. Coming out of the ..."
99.
"... in the doorway with Penny, watching the red and white bird lift away. The excitement over, Penny and Maureen collected lunch trays, which Maureen had served in the midst of the crisis, and Dr. Lawrence checked on Mrs. Brown. When Dr. Frank Lawrence examined a patient he expected the nurse to ..."
104.
"... bad morning, and this is too much! Call the results to my office when you get them.” After the outside door banged shut, Penny turned to Maureen. “Of course we, on the other hand, had a lovely lunch.” “Bless his heart,” Maureen said. “Well, let’s find something to eat and catch ..."
105.
"... course we, on the other hand, had a lovely lunch.” “Bless his heart,” Maureen said. “Well, let’s find something to eat and catch up our work so you can tell me about Jacksonville. I’m busting to know how you like it.” ..."

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Chapter 4: Chapter Four
1.
"... rest a minute.... You’d think somebody would notice we missed lunch.” “You got to look out for yourself, sister.” Maureen stood up and stretched her back. “Let’s get at it; we can rest after we catch up.” Sixty-year-old Maureen worked accurately at a speed Penny could not ..."
"...Sixty-year-old Maureen worked accurately at a speed Penny could not match. She helped Dr. Scales’s tobacco-chewing patient into a wheelchair, loaded up his belongings, and rolled him out to a room on South Hall. Following Maureen’s example, Penny opened the door for visitors and called the X-ray results to ..."
"...Maureen set a cup of fresh coffee on the desk in front of Penny and pulled up a chair. “We can handle whatever they throw in here, you know it? We tore through that like tornadoes in a trailer park! Now. Tell me about JMC—you like ..."
9.
"... to go back to sleep.” “Probably a spirit.” Responding to Penny’s dubious expression, Maureen continued. “Old City Hospital was haunted, built on an Indian burial ground–-didn’t I tell you about that? Strange things were all the time happening.” “Like what?” “I ..."
15.
"... with the heating—like some rooms turned cold for no reason. Everybody knew the spirit had done it.” Penny snickered, thinking Maureen was teasing. “But you never saw it.” “I didn’t want to see him! Plenty of folks saw him: six-foot-tall, walking backwards all over the ..."
"...The phone startled them and Maureen, champion sticker of the hospital, agreed to start a difficult IV down the hall. She approached the Unit door as it swung open to admit Buck, who had come to chart results on some tests that had been sent to another hospital because the Dixiana lab lacked the ..."
47.
"... giggled like a school girl. “Both, if I can.” Later, her shift almost over, Penny completed her charting as the hall door crashed open and a wheelchair carrying a pale woman in street clothes sped in with Maureen behind, pushing hard. “Dr. Ghent dismissed her this morning and they ..."
49.
"... into her husband’s car she collapsed.” Maureen positioned the wheelchair next to the empty bed just inside the door. The nurses replaced the patient’s clothes with a hospital gown, helped her to lie down, then connected her to the heart monitor. Maureen yelled over her shoulder as she ..."
50.
"... gown, helped her to lie down, then connected her to the heart monitor. Maureen yelled over her shoulder as she rushed back out to the hall. “South’s calling Dr. Ghent. Start the IV while I get her chart!” With Maureen there as backup, Penny had grown accustomed to starting IVs in ..."
"...With Maureen there as backup, Penny had grown accustomed to starting IVs in tense situations. In this case, she set it up quickly, cleaned her site, entered the vein, and Maureen returned, holding out torn-off pieces of tape for Penny to use in securing the device to the patient’s damp, ..."
"...of breath after they had raised the head of her bed to a forty-five-degree angle. Her vital signs were within normal limits, but neither nurse could hear breath sounds on the front or back of her right chest. Penny started oxygen and called for Respiratory Therapy while Maureen gathered the equipment needed for emergency chest tube insertion. ..."
58.
"... ASAP orders can take whatever is a reasonable amount of time. I always thought ASAP meant within thirty minutes.” “ASAP means As Sweetly As Possible,” Maureen told her. Exhilarated by her professional performance and by the companionship and security she enjoyed in her relationship ..."
"...Exhilarated by her professional performance and by the companionship and security she enjoyed in her relationship with Maureen, Penny arrived home and turned the Chevette into her driveway. Behind the house, lightning bugs spun circles in the darkening trees and signaled to one another through foliage so dense that only here and there could she glimpse pieces of colored sky. As she opened her back ..."
69.
"... low census. “Well, Maureen and I caught the problem fast, and Dr. Lawrence sent the guy for emergency surgery. Everybody helped; South even copied the chart for us.” Exhaustion overwhelmed Penny and she leaned down, slumped out of her chair, and stretched out on the floor. “Are you ..."
86.
"... apathetic eyes that told her she was dull as dust. She would have to stop wishing for something impossible and make up her mind to be happy. She was healthy, she enjoyed her work, and tomorrow would be Sunday and another day with Maureen. ..."

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Chapter 5: Chapter Five
2.
"... nursing home, but the Harrises had refused to have him transferred. Arriving behind Penny, Maureen checked out the Unit. “You know what this means, don’t you? I’ll get pulled to somewhere I have no business going!” Penny grimaced. “It makes me tired to work outside the Unit; I ..."
5.
"... to work outside the Unit; I have to walk more and it’s hard to find what I need.” “You aren’t the one who’ll have to leave! I should be used to it, but it gets harder every time,” said Maureen. “Well, I feel guilty staying in here when you have to go out. It was better when ..."
9.
"... keep a low profile whoever’s supervising won’t notice we’re down to two patients.” In the nurses’ lounge, Penny and Maureen stared at the bulletin board, on which the new rule was displayed: CCU STAFFING POLICY UPDATE. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. UNIT SCHEDULING WILL CONTINUE AS BEFORE ..."
13.
"... ONLY ONE NURSE IS REQUIRED. After Report, Maureen was helping Lt. Commander Emmerson eat breakfast when Dr. Ghent unlocked the back door. “You nurses make me proud, but it looks like the better we do this job, the less business we have.” From the doctor’s disheveled ..."
"...Maureen bathed Sylvia and wheeled her to the floor while Penny combined a bath and linen change with her assessment of Mrs. Chumley. Penny collected Sylvia’s meds and her chart in preparation for going out to give Report to South when Maureen returned, since both nurses could not ..."
"...When Penny re-entered CCU from South, Maureen and Dr. Ghent were in grim-faced discussion. Maureen summarized their conversation. “Brenda said the linen-truck driver told her Dr. Wiseman died Thursday night, and one of the ambulance drivers told Dr. Ghent it was from an accident at the Jacksonville Hospital.” ..."
25.
"... Dr. Wiseman had offered Penny a job in her new office in Jacksonville. “Had you heard about this?” Dr. Ghent asked. Both he and Maureen looked at Penny as though they expected her to know all about it. Penny refocused her mind. “I’m new up there; no one told me.” “Well, ..."
29.
"... anything for my patient, Dr. Graham’s on call for me until tomorrow.” After the door slammed behind him, Maureen said, “You’ll get on the inside up there pretty soon, then you can find out what happened.” “I’m on the payroll, but I’m not assigned to any department ..."
32.
"... yet.” “I thought you were going for the opening in CCU.” “I don’t know, Maureen. That CCU is more intense; each patient has three or four specialists and the work up there is hard work, all of it.” “What’s Johnny say about all this?” Maureen’s husband, Carl, had ..."
"...Maureen’s husband, Carl, had died almost a year ago, and Penny usually avoided talking about her own husband. “I don’t think Johnny really cares; he’s busy all the time.... Tonight he’s got a committee meeting for Investment Club–-he’s the one who buys and sells stocks and keeps the ..."
36.
"... is then.” “My grandson says your husband’s been helping him extra with his throw.” Penny remembered that Maureen’s grandson played second base. “Johnny’s proud of his infield players.” “And... What did he say?” Maureen doted on her grandson. “I don’t ..."
37.
"... remembered that Maureen’s grandson played second base. “Johnny’s proud of his infield players.” “And... What did he say?” Maureen doted on her grandson. “I don’t know—something about what he’s trying to teach them. I didn’t really listen.” “Why not?” ..."
39.
"... don’t know—something about what he’s trying to teach them. I didn’t really listen.” “Why not?” From beneath raised eyebrows, Maureen’s big brown eyes left the question hanging. “I guess Johnny would say it’s because I’m too busy thinking about myself. We had an ..."
"...Maureen laid down the telemetry strip she was interpreting and looked at Penny. “You know you’re pretty, don’t you? I’m giving you a compliment–-all you need to say is thank you.... And I’ll tell you something else: I used to think you were stuck up because you ..."
44.
"... nodded her head. “Now I know it’s because you’re backward.” Penny pressed her lips together and frowned. To her, backward screamed retarded. She checked Maureen’s expression to see if this was a criticism. “Backward means shy,” Maureen added. “Anyway, what I mean is you ..."
45.
"... expression to see if this was a criticism. “Backward means shy,” Maureen added. “Anyway, what I mean is you don’t have to work so hard on yourself; all that makeup looks pasty-like up close. You’re more sparkly without all that stuff.” Folding her arms tightly across her chest, ..."
"...“Just when I had to jerk him straight about something. The best advice I heard, I got from my mama: Fight Naked. It always worked with Carl and me. Then afterwards, he filled up my church, and I received his offering.” Raising her chin, Maureen looked down her nose at Penny. “Aretha Franklin,” she said. ..."
48.
"... her chin, Maureen looked down her nose at Penny. “Aretha Franklin,” she said. They laughed until the supervisor opened the door to inquire why visiting time was late and dispatched Maureen to South Station. Penny propped open the hall door and apologized to their patient’s husband who ..."
57.
"... inter-cranial pressure.” “If the admitting doctor isn’t worried about ICP it must not be much of a head injury. Just do careful neuro-checks and watch for changes. I’ll let Maureen come back to help you when she finishes what she’s doing on the hall.” Wearing a small bandage on ..."
84.
"... Mrs. Spoonhouse’s family. Finally, she located the supervisor on Obstetrics and explained the situation. “Okay. Get Maureen back in there. Beep the doctor and tell him again.” Knowing that he would be furious, Penny dialed his beeper numbers with cold fingers, punched in the Unit ..."
89.
"... with an abrupt “ALL RIGHT,” and the phone went dead. Maureen and the house supervisor arrived together, and the three of them were at the patient’s bed when Dr. Scales threw open the outside door and strutted in. “Mrs. Pewitt, I’m transferring this patient to Jacksonville, ..."
"...The supervisor notified ambulance service and carried the chart to South’s copier while Penny telephoned Report to the Jacksonville Neurology Unit. Maureen woke the patient, pulled the privacy curtain, and helped her onto a bed-pan. Dr. Scales ushered the family into the Unit, and they waited outside the hanging screen until she had finished voiding. Mr. Spoonhouse, his eyes dark and his face drawn, did not speak and his ..."
92.
"... like an agitated chicken. Maureen interrupted the young man to ask the family not to try to keep up with the ambulance. “They won’t let you see her for a while, anyway. God’s taking care of your mother; your job is to get up there in one piece.” Penny helped transfer Mrs. ..."
"...Maureen was working on the stack of telemetry rhythm strips, interpreting them in preparation for taping them onto sheets in the charts at South Station, when Penny slumped into the chair beside her and began to sort through Mrs. Spoonhouse’s dismantled chart, looking for the nurses’ notes. “What do ..."
97.
"... mind. Just thank your lucky stars you got her out of here.” I guess this is another thing I’ll have to write up.” Penny described to Maureen the multiple-copy incident reports she had learned to fill out in Jacksonville. “We could use those here! Yes Ma’am, you’re chopping in ..."
100.
"... could use those here! Yes Ma’am, you’re chopping in high cotton up at JMC.” As they crossed the parking lot together, Maureen said, “You can expect a late frost this year.” “Worms or bugs?” Penny asked. “I heard a katydid last night: frost will be in ninety days, ..."
103.
"... November, I’m thinking.” Penny unlocked her car and waved to Maureen. “I’ll depend on you to tell me when the time comes to stock up on spray cans of Frost Off. See you in two weeks.” She could feel Maureen thinking, “If the Creeks don’t rise.” Tchaikovsky’s “Song ..."

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Chapter 6: Chapter Six
12.
"... recognize what was important. On her way to the shower, she phoned Dixiana CCU. A monitor alarm was ringing in the background when Maureen answered, and the familiar sound comforted Penny. “Hi Maureen. Have you heard anything about Mrs. Spoonhouse?” “Dr. Scales says she’s doing ..."
38.
"... know that loneliness was a silent shadow waiting just around the next corner. Over lunch Penny said, “Sunday at work, Maureen and Dr. Ghent told me Dr. Wiseman died in an accident at the Jacksonville hospital.” “She was younger than we are! What happened? When did she die?” “They ..."

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Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
90.
"... believed Dr. Spate didn’t want activity in his building at night.” Penny, remembering Maureen’s story about the old Dixiana hospital, asked, “What about temperature changes? Did the heating system work right?” “You know what? They talked about ‘The Eye Chill’ when Spate was ..."

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Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
"...Fortified with coffee, Penny took Report by herself because Maureen had called in sick during the night. Director of Nurses Agnes Gwen breezed into the Unit escorting a woman Penny had never met. “I want to introduce you to Flossie Mae Fox, Dr. Scales’s office nurse, who will be working with us on weekends when we need ..."
24.
"... needed to maintain a readable pattern on their screens. Call me if you need anything, Penny—I’m supervising today.” “Wait—what’s wrong with Maureen?” “I didn’t talk to her, the evening supervisor took her call, but whatever it is must be bad! She never takes sick days or ..."
57.
"... a stiff, “Thank you, Mrs. Pewitt.” The doctor had left by the time Flossie Mae returned to thank Penny for her day of orientation. “Mrs. Gwen says I can work with you again tomorrow if Maureen’s still sick, and if it’s okay with you.” “That’ll be great,” Penny said. ..."

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Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
"...house would have been paid for in a few more years, but now they would lose everything. A current ran through her muscles like a continuous charge and her chest felt as though it was bound up in Saran Wrap. Too fidgety to sit down, she dialed Maureen’s phone number and listened to five rings before she heard a miserable “Hello.” ..."
30.
"... she heard a miserable “Hello.” Maureen, I’m sorry you’re sick, but I need to tell you something! Today was awful—I sent the wrong telemetry patient to Jacksonville for a pacer, and I gave Vitamin K IV to Dr. Scales’s patient and he died.” There was silence on the line before ..."
31.
"... gave Vitamin K IV to Dr. Scales’s patient and he died.” There was silence on the line before Maureen said, “You can give K IV, I think, and if it was that man in bed seven, he was on the way out...Mr. Aceworth, that who it was?” Her voice shaking between gasps, Penny described the event, ..."
33.
"... the event, ending with Scales’s evil wink. “It was his time,” Maureen said. “Haven’t I told you that? When somebody’s time comes, there’s nothing anybody can do to keep him here.... Tell me about the telemetry patient.” “The labels were wrong. I told Dr. Scales his ..."
36.
"... shipped him, too.” “I sent her—it was a woman. I’m afraid they’ll compare the strips because they sent the same copies with both patients...but Maureen, I didn’t know what else to do. I should have told Dr. Scales I made a mistake—but I just couldn’t!” “You did right. ..."
40.
"... so don’t think on it. Now I’m going to bed, and you’d better do the same because tomorrow will come early.” “I’m sorry you’re sick, Maureen. What’s wrong?” “I’ll be all right. We’re both gonna get through this. Goodnight now.” After a restless night, Penny left ..."
91.
"... for ABGs. Maureen was right: they wouldn’t use Dixiana’s lab results. They were drawing their own drug screen. Penny gave Report and handed the patient’s papers to the receiving nurse. Relieved of her charge, she helped Bubba straighten up the back of the ambulance. One of ..."

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Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
"...blood. “Nancy North is our new patient. She’s on the way up–-and I forgot to tell you somebody asked for you this afternoon before you got here. She said she’s a patient on Second and knows you from Dixiana.” Maria produced a sticky-note upon which “Maureen Meadows, 209” was written. ..."
56.
"... “Maureen Meadows, 209” was written. Penny experienced a ping in her stomach: a fleeting internal blink. How could she have forgotten to check on Maureen? Her best friend was sick in this hospital, and she couldn’t go to see her until morning. Penny pocketed the note. “Thanks, ..."
122.
"... if there’s any way I can help.” Penny changed back into street clothes, clocked out, and descended to the second floor. In 209, Maureen was watching The Today Show. “You weren’t kidding about being sick, were you?” Penny said. Maureen managed a smile. “Going under the knife makes ..."
124.
"... was watching The Today Show. “You weren’t kidding about being sick, were you?” Penny said. Maureen managed a smile. “Going under the knife makes you weaker than a virgin Daiquiri.” “You’ve had surgery? I didn’t know it, Maureen!” “Oh yeah? I’ve been in here long ..."
125.
"... you?” Penny said. Maureen managed a smile. “Going under the knife makes you weaker than a virgin Daiquiri.” “You’ve had surgery? I didn’t know it, Maureen!” “Oh yeah? I’ve been in here long enough for dust to collect.” Maureen sighed and kept her face at an angle to ..."
"...“Oh yeah? I’ve been in here long enough for dust to collect.” Maureen sighed and kept her face at an angle to Penny, trying to hide the knowledge in her eyes. “I could feel it in there, but I didn’t tell anybody...I knew it was no good and I didn’t want to have it taken out and go through all this, ..."
"...The news washed over Penny like a bucket of blood. She took a deep breath and exhaled as she gazed out Maureen’s window at the lawn, sprinkled with glitter as frost reflected the morning sun. Everything had crystal edges and caught light, and the hospital room seemed filled with white sound. Penny knew it wouldn’t help Maureen if she cried. She would have to be strong—if she let ..."
131.
"... start radiation treatments next week, and after that comes chemotherapy.” Staggered by the gravity of Maureen’s illness, Penny placed a hand on the over-bed table. The death-dealing disease was murdering Maureen! “Yeah, I’ve picked myself into some thin cotton.” A house wren landed ..."
133.
"... Maureen! “Yeah, I’ve picked myself into some thin cotton.” A house wren landed on the window ledge then flitted away, and Penny wished that both she and Maureen could hop on the bird’s back and fly far away from here. Maureen broke the intense silence. “When you pick in thin cotton ..."
134.
"... bird’s back and fly far away from here. Maureen broke the intense silence. “When you pick in thin cotton you don’t get your quota.” Her shoulders slumped forward, leaving her scapulae, like bird bones, outlined beneath the flimsy hospital gown. She’d lost weight! Struck by a wave of ..."
136.
"... “Which oncologist?” Her voice was a hoarse murmur. “Dr. Lawrence says they’re both good.” Maureen grinned. “I chose Dr. Benson because he’s better looking. Now you’d better hit the road, girl; it’s your bedtime.” Penny pressed her hand against her chest. “I love you, ..."
"...Penny pressed her hand against her chest. “I love you, Maureen.” There were no other words to say. Everything seemed insignificant when compared to Maureen’s bleak prognosis. She picked up her purse and her coat and walked out the door. Outside, cold stood in the air like an enemy and every sound was too loud. ..."
138.
"... Maureen, and for herself. Driving home, unwilling to imagine her world without Maureen, Penny tried to digest the immensity of Maureen’s illness and the suffering she would endure. Maureen deserved a miracle if anybody did! God would have to come through this time. Johnny had already left ..."

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Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
0.
"... about Flossie Mae.” Depleted by her trip to Roanoke, the revelation of Maureen’s prognosis, and two busy twelve-hour night shifts, Penny had considered calling in sick to the Jacksonville hospital on Thursday night. Driving home Friday morning, she wished she had done it. Instead, she had ..."
"...Instead, she had left for Jacksonville early, contributed a pot of shamrocks to the floral display on Maureen’s windowsill, and spent thirty minutes with her before clocking in. At bedtime, she revisited Maureen’s room to bid her goodnight. After that it was hard: Delores Allison’s family arrived, Barb unloaded, and Penny encountered Mrs. Digby. ..."
36.
"... her job! Penny gripped the wheel and sped down the interstate, away from Jacksonville Medical Center. So intent was she upon shaking off her encounter with Mrs. Digby, that she was halfway home before remembering she had planned to stop by Maureen’s room again before she left. It was ..."
"...Johnny, and he held her until the ice that was freezing every cell of her body melted and she pulled away. “No, go on. Thank you, but I’m really okay. There’s no reason for you to stay here...or for me not to work tomorrow. With Maureen sick, I don’t know who would work anyway.” ..."
154.
"... he said. “I should have known Daddy was so sick and gotten him to a hospital, and I should have taken better care of Mother and kept her mind from shutting down, and I forgot to call Maureen today. I feel guilty to be healthy...guilty that I’m not doing something for Mother...” “What! ..."
"...“What! What can you do? You’re not thinking rationally! It’s ten o’clock at night, and you’re wiped out. Listen to me, all right? Maureen’s probably asleep, and David will call if he needs you. Okay? Now I’m going to fix you a drink and put you to bed. You can feel guilty again in the morning, if you want to.” ..."

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Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
32.
"... not listening in the right place,” Jane insisted. Rebecca peeled Jane’s fingers off her stethoscope. “Penny will try,” she said with a big smile on her face as she moved toward the hall door. “Penny, have you talked to Maureen?” “I think she’s at home; she was hoping to be ..."
34.
"... Friday, and then return for radiation and chemotherapy. I’ll call her this morning.” When breakfast arrived, Penny served Jane in her wheelchair and then phoned Maureen. “Hello Lady.” “Hey girl. What‘cha doing calling me when you’re supposed to be working?” “Missing ..."
"...without you. Is there anything you need or anything I can do to help?” Penny remembered reading somewhere that trying to express feelings with words is like trying to build trees with lumber. They had spent hours—no, years—together and she didn’t know how to talk to Maureen. ..."
40.
"... wieners and kraut or hot tamales for lunch.” Penny laughed. “Oh yes, Sunday at River Park Hospital: I better get ready for acute indigestion transfers from the floor.... Everybody asks about you, Maureen. Come back as soon as you can.” Penny interpreted this morning’s lone telemetry ..."
127.
"... help the situation?” “There’s a situation every time I have of one of his patients,” Penny said. “It’s like the Red Sox and the Yankees all over again. Maureen could deal with him when she was here, but now it’s just me, and I make him mad every time.” “Well, be careful—I ..."

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Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen
2.
"... the week of Thanksgiving. Penny was responsible for three patients Thursday night and one of them was Maureen, who had been admitted that morning. As soon as Report was over, she hurried to Maureen’s room and stuck her head in the door. “How’s it going?” “It would be better if I ..."
8.
"... a blanket!” “Oh, she wants one, all right.” Maureen smiled. “She just thinks maybe you don’t want to go get it, and she doesn’t want to make you do it if you don’t want to. So go on, give her a blanket; say you’re putting it there in case she needs it.” “Maureen, ..."
10.
"... it if you don’t want to. So go on, give her a blanket; say you’re putting it there in case she needs it.” Maureen, tell me everything that has happened. Please.” “You know most of it from Report...but I’ll tell you anyway. I got through radiation and the first round of ..."
14.
"... “I know you, Maureen, you can do it. I’m going to give you two units of packed red cells tonight—and I may have come up with a solution for your Christmas shopping problem.” Penny deposited the sack of catalogs she had brought onto Maureen’s bed. “Maybe you can order presents!” ..."
18.
"... news he had been waiting to hear, “You can go home now.” Maureen’s first unit of blood was almost finished when Penny suited up again and stepped into her room for the hourly transfusion vital signs. “Everything okay?” Maureen turned the lab-record sheet around so Penny could see ..."
20.
"... Maureen turned the lab-record sheet around so Penny could see where she had filled in the blanks. “I did them for you,” she said. “Look here, what do you think of these?” Maureen pointed to a picture of Tweety-Bird-yellow towels. “My daughter-in-law likes this color.” ..."
22.
"... towels. “My daughter-in-law likes this color.” “You can’t go wrong on towels,” Penny said, sitting in a chair beside Maureen’s bed. She picked up another catalog. “Some of these things are pretty strange, though.” “I looked at that one. Never saw so many things I ..."
24.
"... things are pretty strange, though.” “I looked at that one. Never saw so many things I didn’t want in one place, except, now here....” Maureen leaned over and pointed to a Santa figurine she had circled. “This is cute as a bug’s ear.” “We still receive all these catalogs ..."
28.
"... Is Your Last Catalog Unless You Place An Order,’ but then they send another one anyway.” Maureen placed her hand on Penny’s leg, palm exposed. “I’m glad you’re here, Penny.” Looking into her friend’s sunken eyes, Penny could see that cancer had taken its toll. She laid ..."
30.
"... Looking into her friend’s sunken eyes, Penny could see that cancer had taken its toll. She laid her gloved hand over Maureen’s, interlocking their fingers. “I’ve had friendships with other nurses, but you and I are like sisters, and we don’t leave each other.” They ..."
32.
"... I are like sisters, and we don’t leave each other.” They turned the catalog pages in silence.... Then suddenly Maureen blurted out, “I’m going to lick this thing; I’m going to kick it if it harelips every cow in Texas!” “Atta girl! Now you’re getting with the program.” ..."
45.
"... minutes.” When Maureen’s transfusions were completed, Penny medicated her for sleep and pain and returned to the nurses station. After catching up on charting, she tried to read her E-mails, struggling to stay awake. Most of the notices seemed unimportant until she read: Effective ..."
86.
"... mumbled. On her way to clock out, Penny stopped by Maureen’s room. “You’ll be discharged before I come back so I want you to call me if there’s anything I can do—I mean it, Maureen—just anything! And I’m laying an extra blanket over here in case you need it.” Maureen gave ..."
87.
"... do—I mean it, Maureen—just anything! And I’m laying an extra blanket over here in case you need it.” Maureen gave her a tired smile. “They ain’t no flies on you, sista!” Barb stuck her head in. “Are you going to spend the day here, Penny?” Penny said, “Maureen, please ..."
89.
"... sista!” Barb stuck her head in. “Are you going to spend the day here, Penny?” Penny said, “Maureen, please give this married woman some of your wisdom. She’s thinking about carrying on.” “Well.” Maureen frowned. “You have to weigh what you want against the price ..."
90.
"... thinking about carrying on.” “Well.” Maureen frowned. “You have to weigh what you want against the price you’ll pay.” Then she grinned at Barb. “But with a little trickeration you won’t have to buy a whole pig just to get a little sausage.” On the drive back to Dixiana, ..."
92.
"... On the drive back to Dixiana, Penny wished Maureen would call her but knew she wouldn’t. They had a close friendship at work but their backgrounds and their lives were so different that the only time they talked to each other outside the hospital was at the grocery store. Her mind ..."
"...Buck. How on earth could he afford a house? With Dr. Scales on probation at Jacksonville, Buck shouldn’t be counting on much help from him—unless Scales’s probation was not that serious. Maybe he was just behind on his charts or something minor like that. As Maureen would say: “Neither one of them is the sharpest scalpel in the autoclave.” ..."

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Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen
"...Christmas wreaths decorated every door in Jacksonville Oncology, and a tree adorned with white angels stood in the hall near the nurses’ station. The tree’s electric cord was plugged into a socket inside Maureen’s door and its multicolor lights shined into her room. First-place prize in the inter-departmental decorating contest would be dinner at Shoney’s for the entire winning department’s staff, and the Oncology nurses aimed to win. ..."
8.
"... understand that I’ll be glad to take care of her tonight.” “Thanks, Janet, but I want her. Maureen claims she’s getting better. She insists on using a bedside commode, even though she’s too weak to stand up.” “That’s how she was last week,” Janet said. “Dr. Benson ..."
12.
"... morning.” Penny’s other patient, Mrs. Hattye Hall, a seventy-year-old with ice-blue hair and severe back pain, was eating supper so Penny pulled on isolation garb and entered Maureen’s room. The drastic change in her appearance was a metamorphosis: a coach into a pumpkin. After ..."
14.
"... pumpkin. After chemotherapy, scanty hair, soft as feathers and the color of stone, had taken the place of Maureen’s black pageboy, and tonight her skin was the color of earth. Her respirations were noisy with congestion as she breathed five liters of oxygen from a nasal cannula. “I’m ..."
18.
"... going to put the cuff on your arm and check your blood pressure.” Penny’s voice sounded loud in the small room. “You’re here,” Maureen whispered. Penny pushed back tears. Tomorrow she could be sad. Maureen’s veins were in such bad shape that a single subclavian was ..."
"...Maureen’s veins were in such bad shape that a single subclavian was her only IV access and, unless they were compatible, only one solution could be infused at a time. The day-shift nurse reported that after infusing two units of blood, she had started Maureen on a combination of ..."
"...After completing her assessment, Penny turned to go and Maureen’s body stiffened. Her head drew back and her jaw clamped shut. Penny pushed the emergency call light and turned Maureen onto her side. Janet darted into the room and Maria, observing the scene from her desk, dialed Dr. Benson and motioned Penny to the phone. ..."
33.
"... aware of the situation.” Shortly thereafter, Penny passed Maureen’s room and waved to Maureen’s son, Milton, who had arrived with his family. She stepped out of the path of a preacher, dressed in clerical garb with a big gold cross, headed into the room. “I’m glad you’re ..."
"...The BAD drip was off for fifty minutes while the platelets infused, and Penny had started it back at half its previous speed. When she reentered the room after charting her assessments, Maureen moved her legs restlessly and rubbed her forehead, so Penny rechecked her vital signs and increased the drip rate. ..."
38.
"... “Your family’s here, Maureen. If you open your eyes you will see your grandson.” Dragging an empty chair over to the bed, she encouraged Milton to sit down. “I’m going to make a fresh pot of coffee, so help yourselves. If there’s anything else you need, please let me know.” ..."
40.
"... From Penny’s point of view, “Circling the Drain” was not a term to be used for Maureen! Gritting her teeth and pressing her lips together, she entered Mrs. Hall’s room as the woman forked the last bite of cake into her mouth. “May I take your vital signs and tuck you in now?” ..."
43.
"... it. After a “wee wee,” the woman settled in for the night. Pausing at Maureen’s door, Penny listened to the preacher-tone as the chaplain read from his Bible, drawing out each word and over-pronouncing every syllable. In the nurses’ lounge, she microwaved a Swanson chicken pot pie ..."
46.
"... he said. Penny hustled back to the room. The fingers of Maureen’s right hand quivered and her right leg jerked as Penny discontinued the BAD drip, hung normal saline, and checked Maureen’s blood pressure. It was low and her skin was hot. Her temperature was 103. Penny closed the ..."
"...Penny closed the blinds covering Maureen’s windows to the hall. “It’s been long enough that I can give her another Tylenol suppository, and I need to change her pads—all women’s work—so why don’t you men stretch your legs.” Maureen’s daughter-in-law wiped her eyes and Penny gave her a hug, then unplugged the ..."
"...Maureen’s extremities dangled and flopped when the two women turned her to her side. Penny lubricated a suppository and bent over Maureen to insert it, feeling heat rise from the bed. With her patient clean and presentable, Penny opened the blinds and the door and re-plugged the tree. ..."
50.
"... something about Mama,” Milton said. Maureen appeared to be asleep. Her daughter-in-law lowered one of the side rails and sat on the foot of the bed. Milton resumed his chair, and Maureen’s grandson sat in a straight chair against the outside wall. Penny perched on the closed lid of the ..."
51.
"... wall. Penny perched on the closed lid of the bedside commode. “Listen Maureen,” she said, “Milton’s going to tell us a story about you.” Penny looked across Maureen’s bed, bathed in colored lights, through the hall windows to the Christmas tree with its glowing angels. “When I ..."
54.
"... Milton propped up the certificate on his mother’s bedside table. “I believe she heard you,” Penny said, steeling her emotions as she wiped Maureen’s perspiring forehead. Her cooling skin was already the color of dust. When Maureen’s heart beat and respirations ceased, Penny notified ..."
55.
"... her emotions as she wiped Maureen’s perspiring forehead. Her cooling skin was already the color of dust. When Maureen’s heart beat and respirations ceased, Penny notified Dr. Benson. Milton and his family had returned to Dixiana, but Maureen’s cold body remained in Oncology at 5 a.m. ..."
"...Milton and his family had returned to Dixiana, but Maureen’s cold body remained in Oncology at 5 a.m. because ER had been so busy that its doctor couldn’t come to pronounce her. Penny threw her uneaten supper into the garbage and sat down in the staff room. It was Christmas and her children were coming this ..."
"...Maureen’s death, and the excitement of having their children at home for Christmas, topped off by Buck’s motorcycle wreck kept Penny awake far into the night. If she had not worried about waking Johnny, she would have gotten out of bed and started cleaning their wrecked house. Sometime ..."

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Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty
"...When Penny shook her head, he pulled out the bottom desk drawer and propped his foot on it. “Thank you for taking care of Buck, he’s a good friend of mine.” He winked at Penny as if they were chatting companionably. “I’m very sorry about Maureen’s death; you lost a good friend! Don’t let her death sidetrack you, though; lots of patients have good results from chemotherapy and from what I’ve heard, Maureen was far advanced before she started treatment.” ..."

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"...“I didn’t do enough! I didn’t protect Flossie, I didn’t realize Daddy was so sick, and I didn’t go to Roanoke when Mother died. I wish I had done more for Maureen.... I didn’t even notice Callie was sick until she was dying! And I haven’t been a good wife to you—I didn’t understand...” ..."

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