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The Weeping Turkey Diaries


It was a cold, snowy, and generally rotten Thanksgiving afternoon. I was especially thrilled to be working the second shift in an inner city trauma center. Slush still clung to the bottom of my scrubs from the journey across the parking lot. My socks were wet and made a squeaking noise with each step.

Specializes in ER and Hospice. Has 22 years experience.

The Weeping Turkey Diaries

As dinner time grew close, the family members of several of the staff brought in wrapped plates from the family dinner table. My family would have never heard of doing such a thing. According to my mother, my current holiday lot was my own doing.

"You're the one that wanted to be a nurse".

Several codes and a food bolus dislodgement later left me wondering if I did, in fact, want to be a nurse.

As often would happen in this facility, someone ate my lunch.

I moped and sulked through the first 4 hours of my shift. Admissions were winning 3 to 1 over discharges. It was truly getting hectic, and my mood was deteriorating beyond morose.

I was wrapping a relatively large hand wound, and giving instructions to a fine gentleman who just happened to have been minding his own business and was attacked viciously just a few blocks from the hospital. As most of you know who have worked ER, minding your own business can tragically result in anything from gunshot wounds to beatings with a baseball bat.

"I'll bet you've had your Thanksgiving dinner," I said...with just a touch of bitterness in my voice.

"Well yup," my quiet little patient replied, "I did."

"Really?" I said. "And what did you have exactly?"

I wasn't wallowing in enough self-pity already. I needed to know.

"Oh, well, I had a great turkey sandwich at the shelter."

Oh, cripes I thought. A great turkey sandwich at the shelter. No cranberries. No mashed potatoes. No Norman Rockwell scene with happy, clean people chatting around the dinner table. Not even close to anything I was missing in my tiny cube of a brain.

All the things I hadn't noticed. He was wearing 3 layers of clothes. Layer number one was a newspaper. He had duct tape holding his shoes together. There likely may have been small things living under his hat.

And he was happy. He had a sandwich at the shelter.

I wanted to crawl under a rock. I was so wrapped up in my own misery that I failed to see another's misfortune. And I was the one being ungrateful. Being ungrateful for a job, my health, and family...even though they hadn't come through with the stuffing and mashed potatoes that others had received. I felt humiliated and ashamed. What kind of a selfish, spoiled human being was I?

I still remember this patient, 22 years later. Every time I do, I am astounded at my total lack of ability to step outside myself.

I have such gratitude for this simple man that opened my eyes to my own self-absorption. Never again will I take for granted anything in my life. I silently thank him for the gift of appreciation for even the tiniest and most basic things we are given every day. In such a dirty place, with such horrible weather just outside the door, my eyes were truly opened to the beauty around me.

22 year(s) of experience in ER and Hospice. Mother of 5.

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6 Comment(s)


Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.

Wow, great reminder to all of us. Thank you.

Oh Honey....you just needed a good humbling that day. You got a humbling that you still remember.See? It was what you needed that day. Bless You.

mizfradd, CNA

Specializes in med/surg, psych, public health. Has 11 years experience.

God bless you for sharing your story with us. I need to tell you that it came at exactly the right time in my life to read it.


Specializes in Critical Care. Has 30 years experience.

Thank you SO much for this. I most certainly need reminding of how good I have it, no matter how tough my life can seem at times. I take the blessings of a hot shower, a simple dinner of a bowl of cereal, a bed to sleep in, and oh so many other things for granted way to often.



Specializes in Med surg, Critical Care, LTC. Has 20 years experience.

Great story, thanks for sharing it!

We are blessed . We are called where even angels fear to tread.We are witnesses to human suffering and we wrap an injured hand,ease the pain of illness and cry tears for those who lose the struggle.We do this day after day and year after year..with no stars in our crowns or turkey in our bellies.Why because we are Nurses and we have ansewered to our calling...