My husband has, shall we say, a less than supportive father. Out on his own at 16, he lived first with his brother, then with his sister before entering the Navy at 17. Robert wanted to be a medic because of his interest in medicine. His father said “No! Do something that will guarantee a job later: fix airplanes”.
As an aircraft mechanic and sheet-metal worker, Robert was stationed on the U.S.S. Midway in the Pacific. When he left the Navy there were many mechanic jobs. Then the airlines deregulated, and he was suddenly subject to frequent layoffs. Even though Robert was considered skilled within the blue-collar set, layoffs came about every four years.
Robert had just gotten work after a layoff when we met in 1991. His language and manners were very rough and I’m much less rough. Yet we felt a strong connection and married in 1994.
In 1995, two months after learning I was pregnant, Robert was laid off yet again at 36 years old. This time he was eligible for a training program, so if he wanted to schooling, someone else would pay for it.
The catch was that it was only for two years and it had to be something he could be certified in after that two years. In our area, there’s a college with an excellent two-year registered nurse program.
Honestly, I thought he would be eaten alive going into a predominantly female profession — especially coming from an environment where belching contests at lunch were festive affairs.
Yet Robert graduated with honors and has been a registered nurse for ten years this spring. He still projects the “rough around the edges” attitude. His coworkers often ask me how I can stand to be married to him, and they tell him I must be some sort of saint.
When our little girl was born, as I napped in the hospital Robert watched football with her, explaining all the details, “so she’d get a head start on understanding”.
However, that year my father died, five days before his next birthday. Robert bought me a present on Dad’s birthday, to help me cope “just a little”. And he often gets letters of thanks from patients and their families.
In 2006 Robert worked for a small private hospital three miles from our home. He worked on an in-patient floor with one patient in residence over Christmas, so just two nurses worked Christmas day. Robert called them about 10 a.m. to see if they had dinner plans. When he found out they had nothing special planned, he told them he’d bring them food, not to order in.
When the meal was ready, the first thing he did — before our meal — was fix a couple of plates for them, pile our daughter and her Santa hat in the truck and take his co-workers Christmas dinner.
And ladies, regardless of appearances — it was his idea.