I’ve heard this phrase before when I’ve been promoting Caring Lessons, but I had another special occasion to hear it last Saturday night. I was sitting with my books at the registration table of a holiday party for nurses. Members and guests of District 20 of the Illinois Nurses Association. In the mid-nineties I was the president of this district, and it was heartwarming to be back as a guest among several old friends.

I shared the table with a nurse I did not know who was registering the party attendees. We chatted between busyness. She told a tale that no nurse wants to hear. How she was injured in a fluke accident while on a home visit and, after many months of medical care, how she still has constant pain and restriction in mobility. How she hates sitting home, unable to see her patients, to do the work she loves.

Imagine then, while I’m listening to her–amazed that she’s out on an icy, snowy night doing a task she’d probably signed up for before her injury–she suddenly said to me, “I want to buy your book.” She hadn’t even asked what my book was about or what kind of nursing I’d done. Surprised, I handed her a book and thanked her. As she paid me, she smiled, “It’s nurses supporting nurses. I will enjoy reading it as I’m housebound.”

Inching home near midnight for an hour on slushy roads, I thought of this nurse and the old friends with whom I’d talked. All of the friends still working–in a prison, in public health, in schools of nursing. All warm, generous, caring, giving individuals. All listening to each others stories. All asking me how I spend my days as a retired nurse.

Nurses supporting nurses. Indeed!