Emma, Betty, Ellen and Bridget
Meet the Q-tips. They are a fabulous group of women I work with in Salem (named for their white and fluffy hair). While I wish I was creative enough to have come up with this name myself, I'm not sure how they would have taken it coming from me, a sassy brunette 20 years their junior. I don't know who came up with the name, though I suspect it was Bridget. And while their hair is certainly white (except for Betty's) they can out sass me with their pinkie fingers.
I have to admit, when I first came to the Salem VA clinic, I was slightly disappointed and a little trepidatious at the abundance of grey (or as Bridget prefers...silver) and the lack of anyone under the age of 30. I was used to "my girls" from the VA in LA - another fabulous group of women who were crazy, fun, and supportive and who made a hard job worth coming to. During my first few days of work in Salem I was sure that there would be no one there with whom I could create that sort of bond and it made me feel quite lonely. I prepped myself for long and boring days at work.
But, as I've gotten to know these women (the Q-tips), I've realized how totally amazing they are. I've also realized that age has absolutely nothing to do with the bond of friendship that can be found among women. Though we are all in totally different stages of life and from totally different circumstances I still feel very connected and supported and understood by these women...and we have a heck of a good time together!
Tonight, my bad car karma brought me amazing good fortune. Because my car was in the shop today (yes...this makes 3 times in as many pay checks...though luckily I have an amazing mechanic who charged me only $10.65 for today's services...and that is definitely fodder for another post) I carpooled to work with Bridget who not only offered a generous service and insightful conversation during our drives, but also invited me along to happy hour with the Q-tips after work. I never would have been lucky enough to hang out with them had I driven myself. I think they think I have better things to do than to hang out with "the old ladies" but little do they know that I think they are a riot and LOVE hanging out with them. And, now that I've gotten to know them a little better, I just admire, adore, and love them even more. They are seriously amazing women.
Ellen is the mother of the group. She is soft and warm and welcoming and inspires confidence with her calm yet firm demeanor. She is the jbeany of the Q-tips and knows everything about everyone...nothing gets by this woman. She is the go-to girl if you want something to get done and get done right. She lives in a little cottage that is filled with her collections of plates and socks and miniature houses and weathered wood and coffee grinders that all seem to be an extension of her soul. And lest you think she is all sweet grandma, when she had a big garage sale a number of years back, she put an ad in the paper which read, "dog died, husband left, big sale." And it was God's truth.
Emma is the sweet thing. At first she seems so quiet with white hair and a great smile always accentuated with her bright pink lipstick. I found out tonight that she was a nun-in-training for 5 years in her late teens and early 20s. Literally, she was training to be a nun. And while doing so, willfully broke at least 3 of the 10 commandments (although she may have many more hilarious stories of her sins stashed away behind that innocent smile). She is persistent, kind, and hilarious. She is little but she's a firecracker. She works out regularly and hides her hot little legs under very motherly dresses while on the job. She's always been so warm and helpful and welcoming to me and I'm so excited to get to know her better.
Betty is the case manager. And she means business. Instead of knowing everything about everyone, Betty knows everything about everything. You need business cards cheap? Talk to Betty. You need to know where to go to lunch? Talk to Betty. You need someone to push management for a compressed work schedule? Talk to Betty. You need someone to light a fire under your butt so you'll start looking for a place to live? Talk to Betty. Anything you need...seriously...talk to Betty. She is brilliant - a Nurse Practitioner with a PhD who went to a little school in New Haven, CT. And she's tough - took Judo as a young girl and can hang with the most hostile of veterans. She just has this amazing presence that exudes confidence. She owns it and tells it like it is. And, lest you think she is all business and no heart, she has 5 dogs (most of which I think she rescued from some sad existence or another). She is incredibly empathic and understanding.
Bridget is the feeler (and not in a dirty way). She is more in tune with the energy of the world and of people than anyone I've ever met before. She has an amazing ability to read people and understand them in a way that's different than most people, deeper than most people. She also is incredibly empathic and easy to talk to. She has an uncanny ability to get people (or at least me) talking about themselves and their lives and spilling all. I admire her ability to recognize and appreciate the good in people. She is quick to compliment and is always sincere. She is also incredibly humble and is sort of like a sponge, totally ready to soak up as much new information from the world as she can. Not only is she an incredible conversationalist, she is hilarious and has a ridiculously active imagination. She is a "child of the sixties" who follows her heart and twirls with her girlfriends on Saturday mornings.
So, these are my work girls. Totally different and unexpected but completely delightful. I am so excited about all of the things that I can learn from their great wisdom and life experience. And no, they are not a replacement of my LA girls, who will always have a special place in my heart. They are just proof that the heart always has room for more.
P.S. Sorry to disappoint EvRo, I could only hold back the floodgates of verbosity for so long!