Many of my guests know that before I acquired the job of inn owner/Innkeeper I worked for a long time as a registered nurse. Already a married woman and a mother, it was nevertheless critical to me to be self supporting. It was in pursuit of that goal that I met Sally. She was the next door neighbor to my husband’s Aunt. She was also mother to a child my daughter’s age. Sally, also needing to make some additional money enabling her to honor pressing financial obligations, set about doing just that by babysitting just a few children. She talked often of her own earlier dreams of schooling. She too had been a wonderful student years earlier. We agreed to meet, discuss our ideas about children and their care to determine if we felt we’d be a good match.
Initially, our relationship was a friendly business arrangement in which I obtained exactly what I was looking for. It took the form of a very intimately sized child care environment headed by an adult person whose friendliness, smart, funny demeanor and clear love of children would benefit any child for the hours they were in her company.
Nursing school began, the financial strain of managing ongoing family bills, added educational and textbook bills, child care, endless studying, a challenging course of study, a grueling schedule and a young couple nearly always broke or just getting buy wore thin. All this time later, I will never forget the stress of that time. I had not been a student for years. While I had accomplished more than a passable performance in high school that had been 4 years ago. I was out of practice, under duress and lacking in confidence and wondered if I should give the entire idea up.
Sally was nothing if not a lifesaver. She loved my child and clearly Tara was thriving in her care. Tara clearly loved her and was happy for the playmate she found in Sally’s daughter, Jennifer.
Sally lent herself to me as well. On days of doubt she expressed complete confidence in my abilities. Any idea that I voiced regarding my inabilities, my fear that I would not be able to finish nursing school, pass a test or nursing boards, master microbiology or identify a staphylcoccal bacteria under a microscope was met with steely assurance that I would in fact master these things and more. Her faith in me was unassailable and began to grow my own. Her generosity was boundless. It was not uncommon for my friend to share some casserole she had made for her own dinner with one sent home for us that evening. Her faith led me through each exam. Her endless listening to my fears as a young mother expressing the angst of not always being with my child made me a better Mother when I was. Her understanding of my need to be able to stand on my own financially and her joy at my success was unmistakeable. She was proud of me. Suddenly, so was I.
Happy Birthday Sally. You remain today and every day the best example of friendship, kindness, understanding, faith, love and true support of women I have ever known. I think of your impact on the lives of all the women you helped along their path every day. Many were the recipients of your care. I can only hope that today, on your birthday, you will know how special you are and how loved. This is my birthday song to you. The lyrics are from my heart.
Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast