A true legend. A true hero.

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

I had to earn my “stripes” in ICU. After I graduated from nursing school, the “big” hospitals wouldn’t take me in to work ICU, as I had no experience as an ICU nurse. Back in the early 1980’s, there was no such thing as an internship program.

I desperately wanted to become an ICU nurse. So a small town county hospital took me in. It was a 6 bed “ICU” and I slowly learned the basics of ICU nursing. The county hospital sent me on a 60 hour hemodynamics class, which opened up my eyes even more! After one year at this hospital, I was ready to spread my wings.

I applied to the big hospital, big city ICU. And they took me in. Orientation was 4 weeks.
16 beds. Ventilator’s, EKG monitors, nurses in light blue scrubs, code blue’s, computers … I was in awe. THIS was the big times. I had entered paradise!!

Eventually I worked and assisted physicians and respiratory therapists in intubating patients, inserting central lines, swan ganz (PA line) monitoring, learning about PCWP and fluid overload and deadly arrhythmias.
But there was one ICU nurse who I instinctively knew I must gravitate towards.

Carolyn. She had a “glow” about her. She had wisdom and knowledge. She was calm but a strong force. She was kind but direct. She explained arrhythmias and irregular EKGs to me. But she taught me with kindness and patience. She was never condescending. Never a bully. Never a “know it all.”
She challenged upper management and physicians for the sake of our patients and for the sake of us fellow nurses.
I knew that “when I grew up” I wanted to be just like her…. if possible.
I adored Carolyn. I loved her dry wit, her intelligence, her spunk.
She gladly took us young ones under her wing.
When she clocked out, she had a whole other life. A loving wife and mother to several children, she was the neighborhood mom too.
I’ll never understand how she had so much energy. Her plate was full.
She did finally retire and consumed her time with her family and her grand babies she adored.

Sadly, we received the news the other day. Her husband tried to wake her up. She was unresponsive. Medics rushed her into the Emergency Department. She coded several times. She never made it to the ICU. This time as a patient.

There are frequent tears in my eyes. Even writing this. She was the epitome of an ICU nurse. Her intelligence surpassed many. But she was the quiet storm in a chaotic ICU.
Though Carolyn had a heart of gold, her physical heart had taken its toll.
You will always be my hero. My shining star.
Sing with the angels Carolyn, because you were certainly an angel here on earth.

(*Fictitious name used)

An open letter to the “other ones”

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Hi Mary and Susan and Heather and Ashley and Cathy and anyone else I’m sure I missed.
I was twenty something when I met him. He was smart and funny and different. And I desperately wanted something “different.”
I wanted to be set free from my strict Catholic upbringing. From my domineering mother and IBM executive father turned alcoholic. I wanted to shed the confessionals on Thursday, the mass on Friday and then church again on Sunday. The screams and haunts that failed to escape me of being told over and over again that I was dumb and stupid and fat. I wanted to explore and dance and sing.

And there you were.
The strangest man. 1978. With your Afro hair and long beard and beady blue eyes and a thin body as you smoked cigarette after cigarette.
We listened to the Doors and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd as we stared into each other’s eyes.
You told me I was beautiful and smart and talented. I desperately grabbed on to this… those breadcrumbs of love.
You became my everything.
My heart and soul.
Can you imagine being this beautiful porcelain doll, and someone comes and smashes you with a hammer? Smashes you to shreds?
That was me.
I loved you. You were my everything. We had three beautiful children. I loved them even more; as I had to learn to build my life around them, and not you.
I preached to others “Women’s liberation.” Unchain yourself, I even hyphenated my last name. Strange thing though, was that I was really trapped. I didn’t know how to escape.
You were my “magic man” until I found out the truth.
And then the hammer that came down on me, also came down on my spirit.
Our children loved you. We all played fairly well… except for the screaming fights of me begging you to get a second job or a better job as I worked my 60 hours a week as a nurse. I was exhausted but I knew someone had to do it. Or of that “next time” you were unfaithful to me. Many various affairs with other women. The marriage counseling, the therapy sessions never made you stop. I was a wounded soldier, craving for this man to love me. And finally realizing it would never happen.
Breadcrumbs of love.
Everyone loved you, your folks at work, the community, even the church. You also loved their adulation towards you.

Narcissism is a strange disease. It’s a self-serving one. And you get wrapped up into yourself. And I was left behind. Forgotten.
And after 34 years of marriage, I was finally ready for a divorce…. because you had one more. One more woman to love other than me.
And I didn’t divorce because he received his death notice. Liver and pancreatic and lung cancer ravaged his body. And I just couldn’t make my children take care of him. I knew it would be hard, but I just couldn’t make them deal with this pain.

So, Mary and Susan and Heather and Ashley and Cathy and all the rest…. where were you when he lost over 40 lbs, stopped eating, skeletal and jaundiced? Where were you when he climbed out of bed, only sometimes falling to the floor or urinating on the floor? Where were you when he accidentally had a bowel movement in the bed? Where were you when he tried to flush towels down the toilet?
And even at the end, the funeral. Where were you? Did you forget to come and pay this man homage?

So whether you’re a man or woman and you’re in it for the thrill. Or in it for fun.. you all, including him, played havoc on my life. My psyche.

His ashes were scattered across the mountain top. And I swore to myself…. never again.

I trust few. But every day I heal, I hug and cuddle my dogs. I laugh with my children and grand-babies… and I carry on.

IF you are in a domestic abusive, cruel, negative, demoralizing partnership, get out! I plead with you loud and clear. Get out. No one deserves this life.
It’s never too late.

The Center for relationship abuse awareness
800.799.7233
(800.799.SAFE)

National Domestic Violence Hotline
800.799.7233
If you are in immediate danger call: 911

The genius within


By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

She was naked in her seclusion room. Padded cell. Gown on the floor. Drenched in her urine. I was her nurse. I gave her lithium. She put the pill in her mouth and than spit it at me. In my face. And then her tirade began. “I’m Jesus”. “The FBI is watching us.” “The computer chip in my head said to kill kill kill you.” “They’re watching me.” “They’re watching you.”
“I’m Jesus. Watch out.”

She spun out of control. She started to bang her head against the padded cell wall. We all gathered around her as she screamed out Satan and demons and Lucifer. I injected her with Thorazine. And finally she slept.

Exhaustion and medication took over.

She was in her 50’s and I knew her well. After a week of seclusion and scheduled medications, she got better. She graduated to the main psychiatric unit. Walking amongst the others. Chit chatting with other patients. She was better. Her gray hair was neatly combed. She wore a dress.
I was giving out medications to others.
Mrs. Mary came up to me. Two inches from my face. She said, “I know you. I know you from somewhere.”

And I told her yes, she was correct.
I let her know that 3 years ago she was my English professor while I was in college.
She apologized for her behavior, though she vaguely remembered being naked and spitting pills at me and talking of Jesus and Satan and the FBI. I told her no need to apologize. You are so much better. I’m so happy for you.

3 years ago, I had been in nursing school. English class was a requirement. I was a young depressed woman going into a profession my mother had dictated for me to go into. It was my delusional thoughts that I would escape my dysfunctional home of an alcoholic father and a domineering mother. I would become a journalist and live in New York City and work for the New York Times. I would escape my household I grew up in and go to the best liberal arts school and become famous with my writings.

I wanted to escape but I wasn’t allowed to.

Instead I was told I would stay at home and go to a local college and become a nurse. I wrote paper after paper using my creativity in this English class. I excelled at something I loved. Writing. And it was Professor Mary who asked me to stay after class. She told me I could be a journalist. That I didn’t have to go into nursing. That I could write.

She also told me that she sensed I experienced depression. I was 19 years old. 20 years old. How did she know so much about me in so little time?
Professor Mary was probably the first person in my life that had an ounce of insight into myself. Years of neglect, the screaming of mom as dad ran into the walls after he drank his daily gallon of wine.

I had never known that Professor Mary held onto a secret. She was a genius within a schizophrenic mind. With her compliance of her medication, she was a warm, tender and caring lady. I looked up to her. I cherished her. She seemed to be the first person in my life who showed she cared about me.

My confidence had lifted because of her.
I became that nurse and I first ventured into psychiatric nursing.

And there Professor Mary was. My patient.
I gave her love and kindness and encouraged her to get better.

In a twist of fate, I was able to return everything that she had given me. Hope.

Professor Mary died not too long ago. I read about her in the newspaper. She died a peaceful death. Many long years she taught.
Professor Mary lit a candle for me in my heart. She may have been the true reason why I was able to become a caring nurse to others. She’ll always be that spark in me that I thought had died at the young age of 19.

Rest peacefully Professor Mary.
You were my shining star.

I can’t breathe…Momma…

I can’t breathe…..
Momma
By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Mommy why are there separate water fountains?
Mommy why aren’t there any “colored” people in my school?
Mommy why are their houses so small?
It was the 1960’s. And all around me were symbols and movements and chaos and hate and love and conflict.
Mary, our maid, slept on our couch, and I told my mother she was sleeping. My mother said “Let her sleep.”
We were walking downtown and we heard the “N” word, and daddy pulled us aside and told us to never ever use that word.
Daddy gave a poor black man a $20 bill. He didn’t know him. But he did that just because.

I found out early what respect for each other meant. What love meant. What color blind meant. The great leaders spoke to us from our small black and white TV. Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X. John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy. And one by one, I watched them gunned down.
Greatness gunned down.
I am sad. We have been giants in this Universe.
Our USA. And now we are all breadcrumbs.
Hate has replaced love.
My high school years in the 1970’s was a battleground. Blacks against whites. Riots through out the country in high schools. Smoke bombs. The National Guards. Integration. I didn’t understand.
I was taught to love one another. That we are all God’s children. And by our senior years we figured out that it was other people in our universe that attempted to instill hate in us. But we didn’t want to hate. We ended up going to football games and basketball games together and singing in the choir, and studying together and learning to heal from all of the previous hate. We became good friends and we embraced each other’s culture. And we flooded with tears when we graduated from high school. We created a strong bond that we wouldn’t allow anyone to break.

It is such a sad time again. We’ve spiraled out of control.
Anger. Racism. Fighting. Looting. Disrespect. Sadness. Destruction.
What happened?
Where has our love gone?
When this life is over with, can you even say you led a good life?
Can you even say you were kind and gentle and caring to each other?
The visions run through my head.
They won’t escape.
A black man jogging gets shot down. A man with a possible alleged bad $20 bill gets tackled and shackled and thrown to the ground. And begs: “ I can’t breathe.” And cries to his mama.
Modern day lynching. It’s no different than watching that black man or woman hang from a tree. Dangling. With a large rope around their neck.
Or a large foot pressing down for 8 minutes and occluding a man’s carotid.

Where is our modern day Martin Luther King Jr? Where is our new Malcolm X. Where is our JFK and brother Robert Kennedy.

Please. Stop the racism.
Please. Stop the destruction and looting.
Please. Stop the killings.
We have just this one life to live.
Make it right.

Cause I can’t breathe anymore.

Domestic Violence During Coronavirus Lockdown

Abusers love isolation.

The mandate came across the television screen. “Stay at home”

Social distancing


The USA is in lockdown.

And unless you are an essential worker, like a nurse or doctor or healthcare employee or medic or police officer or work at a grocery store, you must stay at home. This coronavirus is wicked and travels from one person to the next. Not only thousands have died from this virus, it easily leaps from one country to the next.

Some would think it was a relief to sit at home and watch tv. Others would become restless and uneasy and knowing that a paycheck wouldn’t come in nor bills would be paid like the rent or mortgage or utilities or food.

And to the man or woman who knew the sting of domestic violence, this isolation would become an inescapable trap.

Isolation is an abuser’s best friend.

And with isolation came their ultimate control.

Emma was a young beautiful girl. But as a child, her parents ridiculed her day in and day out. Though Emma was a natural beauty, her entire life growing up, her mother and father would tell her she was fat and ugly and stupid. Her neglect and abuse was early on, as she watched her mother dress in the finest clothing, and her dad drink his gallon of wine a night.

Emma would frequently stay away from the high school parties and football games because she was convinced she was fat and stupid and ugly.

And then she met Ted. He was a big guy. Kind and protecting and eventually never left Emma’s side.

Emma thought his “protection” and always wanting to know where she was, was his way of showing love and affection.

They married. And she was determined to be that perfect wife. Ted would come home from work and the table would be set with a magnificent dinner. But Emma realized that everything had to be perfect with Ted. It’s hard to always be perfect. He eventually became cruel to her and verbally abusive. If Emma’s hair wasn’t just right, he’d scream at her. If the house wasn’t clean, he’d push her into a corner leaving bruise marks on her arms. And the pattern of control and abuse grew. She wasn’t allowed to see her old friends much less her parents. She wasn’t allowed to buy new clothes without his ok. Is she was napping, he’d accuse her of being tired because she must be having an affair. The neglect and torment and control would escalate. And Emma was doomed in her mind to be a worthless person.

And then the pandemic hit. More isolation. And Emma felt paralyzed. She was confined to her home. Ted became more aggressive and angry as he couldn’t work and couldn’t pay his bills. Screaming and hitting Emma to “keep her in her place” and the nightmare was endless.

Emma wanted to get help. She wanted to reach out. But Ted told her if she left the house the coronavirus would kill her. She wasn’t able to get on the phone to talk to her friends. Nor was she allowed on her laptop. The control and isolation grew. Easily she would be punched in her stomach, or shoved into a corner of something was out of place or the TV had the wrong channel on.

Emma tried to get on her laptop to signal one of her friends to help. But Ted slammed the laptop onto the floor.

Emma was trapped in her own house where the isolation got more intense and Ted’s control of her became unbearable.

At 3:00 am, when she thought Ted was sound asleep, she tiptoed down the stairs, with only her clothes, no suitcase.

She had to make an escape. It was now or never.

Slowly and quietly she walked down the staircase. And she made it to the front door.
Ted ran down the staircase and grabbed her arm. Stating that she would never leave him.

He pushed her against the wall. And put his gun to her head. And fired three times.

Emma fell to the floor.

Blood splattered everywhere.

Ted calmly got on the phone and called 911.

I did it.

I killed my wife.

There were no tears.

Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
Or text: LOVEIS to 22522

The Protesters

They scream and holler and march. First Amendment, it’s our right. Open up the USA.

This is Socialism. This is a hoax.

THIS, coronavirus, is deadly.

Invisible as the virus makes its trek across our USA. Across the Universe.

Nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists are being named hero’s. Signs and banners and free meals and cookies and doughnuts and loads of adoration come our way. But we don’t want to be named a hero. We are doing our job, our profession, our passion.

What the health care professionals want are safety, and protection, and experienced staff and PPE’s like N-95 masks, and gloves and gowns and face shields. And respect for this virus.

When you go out and march and protest without a mask, without social distancing, you are compromising fellow citizens, nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists. You are endangering us and your family and friends. This virus doesn’t care what you think. It searches for the next host to hook on to. Are you in your 30’s, or 40’s or 60’s… the virus doesn’t care.

Are you washing your hands with soap and water, sanitizer, keeping your distance? Do you walk freely through essential stores without a care; without a bother?

To you, it doesn’t matter.

Because you haven’t been affected yet.

Not yet.

We say our prayers going in. The hospitals test us before we clock in. They take our temperature and ask us questions. We are allowed to stay and work if we are afebrile, lack a dry cough, no loss of smell or taste, no shortness of breath, no congestion. And then we are allowed entrance to work in that ER or that ICU or any unit in that hospital. ICU’s and ER’s are now deemed as Hell.

There are no short breaks. It is 12 hours of relentless pain. Masks and shields and gowns and gloves and the very sickest Covid-19 enter our ICU’s. Pouring blood into these patients and oxygenating with emergent intubation, and vasopressins and lungs crashing and kidneys dying despite dialysis, despite our last ditch efforts of proning a patient, despite telling family members they can’t see their loved ones last breath on earth.

Despite hospitals allowing us ONE N-95 mask per 12 hour shift. Despite us knowing that this special mask should be used only once and then disposed of. Despite hospital units and surgeries closing down, despite nurses being furloughed or physicians being fired for speaking out against the lack of PPE’s, despite administrators receiving $250,000 bonus checks in this turmoil.

Frontline nurses and doctors have died from this virus helping you to survive.
Ministers and protesters, funeral sessions and greater than 10 social functions continue and you go on “blind faith.”

This coronavirus attacks our lungs our heart our kidneys and brain. It attaches and attacks until the patient goes into multi-system organ failure and then death.
To date the US has 58,947 deaths from coronavirus. This number continues to grow.
So please, help yourself to protesting, to screaming and shouting. You certainly don’t scare or intimidate this virus.

Wear your masks, keep your distance.

But if you keep your guard down, you may become the next fatal number.

Hope in the killing fields

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook

Our 23 bed ICU has been converted to Covid-19 patients.

All of them.

I want to tell myself this is science fiction, but it’s not. It’s real. And we are scared.
As I enter the unit to start my night shift, we have a huddle of the off-going and oncoming nurses.

We are committed to fight this invisible monster.

After a brief update of all of our patients, we bow our heads and say a prayer. A prayer to protect all healthcare and essential workers across our nation. And our Universe. A prayer for safety and strength. A prayer for the patients stricken with this potentially lethal virus. A prayer for the families that are not allowed in to see their loved ones. Not allowed in to say hello, or to say I love you or to say their goodbyes.

ICU has always been my favorite job. The dynamic and strong work here. Fearless and endless, we never stop.

But this is different.

We receive our assignments. If we are lucky, we only receive 2 patients. Both on ventilators. We have a clean nurse to assist with adding our PPE’s. We also pray that we have the right protective equipment. N-95 masks, isolation gown, gloves, foot covers, and face shield. I am the “dirty nurse”.

I have to be prepared to have everything ready to go into that patient’s room.
IV antibiotics, IV drips like vasopressin and Levophed for those dangerously low blood pressures. Lab vials for the continuous need of lab work taken from the patients arterial line. Tube feedings for their nutrition. Morphine IV drips for their pain and discomfort, propofol for sedation.

Beyond all of the technical and mandatory medical needs of this patient, I have to remember there is a person on that ventilator. A person who is all alone. There is no family member with them. It’s me and the patient. And that steady beep of the EKG monitor and the pumping of the ventilator. The noises that provide no comfort.

This virus does not discriminate.

I have 30 year old male who was perfectly healthy and I have 64 year old lady. This virus is an equal opportunity employer.

In my 30 plus years as an ICU nurse, never have I seen this incredible death threat.
I check the ventilator along with the respiratory therapists at my side. Check the settings, suction the patient. Though the patient is in a semi-chemical daze from the pain meds and sedation medications, I squeeze this young man’s hand, I let him know we are here for him. That we are going to do everything possible to make him strong again. To let him walk out of this place and see his wife again and hug his little kids again. And pet his dog again. I tell him to hang in there. That we are doing everything possible to fight this monster.

His breathing is shallow. His lungs have taken a beaten. But I can see his pulse and I can feel his pulse.

I hold his hand. And tell him to be strong. I say a pray for him. For us.

I want to shatter inside myself but I know I can’t . We must stay strong.
He turns his head towards me.

And squeezes my hand back.

Hope.

This is dedicated to all of the nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists who dedicate their lives every day in the face of danger. Thank you for all that you do.

Coronavirus

We are the land of plenty.

But not now

We stand naked.

Our America is not prepared.

With the surge of coronavirus invading our nation, nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and medics remember our oath, our dedication and our persistence of always putting sick people first.

Everything is urgent, and emergent and downright scary.

We all worry if we’ll be infected. Will we carry this virus home to our family?

Isolation and quarantined.

The front lines are Emergency Departments and ICU’s and not only are there not enough beds, or ventilators, there are not enough experienced nurses, or respiratory therapists or physicians to spread out. Some physicians are dead. A nurse has died.

We are being told by management to use the same mask day in and day out.

Our PPE’s are inadequate and not bountiful.

An experienced nurse has been suspended because she refused to take care of a coronavirus positive patient in ICU, as she was not given a mask or gown to protect herself. Because the hospital was out of supplies.

Suspended.

Nurses are told if they test positive they must report to work anyway.

This devastating list and problems are extensive.

And there is no way out.

We are the killing fields with minimal or no protection.

I say make noise and document.
Report to the state board of nursing.
To the health department.
Report to OSHA.
This is not a hoax.
This is not a science project.
This is the real thing.

A virus spreading wildly with no vaccine.

And when the nurses and physicians and respiratory therapists and medics start tumbling down like a domino effect, in sickness or in death….

It’ll be lights out for those in need.
Game over.

This Old Man

Finally it’s time to clock out of this ICU. No break for 12 hours, we beg to go to the bathroom just for a nano-second, in between not skipping a beat to hang life-saving IV drips, assisting with central line insertions and arterial lines, and intubations of the sickest. We pretty much just go door to door literally saving lives. Code blues, and chest compressions and emergent intubations and rapid response team screams out overhead, as we are responsible for that too, and by the time it’s 0815… not 0715…. we are exhausted and haggard and starving.

We clock out and walk to the cafeteria in our

semi-comatose state. We are starving.

And there he is. Again. That old man at a table in the corner of the cafeteria. He always has a sweater on, eating breakfast and looking at the morning newspaper.
We know who he is and we’ve tried to say “hi” or “good morning” but he never looks up.

He wears a gold wedding ring.

We respect his quiet space.

He’s been there for awhile.

He is that man that lost his wife in ICU. The love of his life.
He’d slowly shuffle into ICU, with that sweater and sometimes a bow tie. He would come every day and hold his wife’s hand. And read a verse from the Bible to her. She was non-responsive. She was 82 years old. He is older. She never moves. On the ventilator, inspiratory, expiratory, the EKG monitor shows a slowing rhythm. His dear wife Ethel, is slowing down. Per his wish, he begged us and the physicians to give them both more time.

When we saw him coming, the tissues came out. It was heartbreaking.

When he did talk to us, he told us they were high school sweethearts. They met at the

Valentine school dance. Her long brunette hair. Her rosy cheeks and her eyes that sparkled.

She was the love of his life.

He went off to war to fight for his America. World War II. When he came home, he twirled her around and around and said he’d never let her go. On one knee he asked her to marry him. To live with him forever. For Ethel to be his forever. With the little money he had, he was able to buy her a small diamond. She showed it off like it was 5 carats, it was barely a 1/2 carat. But she was happy and proud and in love.

They bought their first home and proceeded with five children. All sent to college. All had jobs. She was the best wife. The best mother. And the best grand-mother.

Their children knew what they had to do growing up: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church, Sunday school, homework, cheerleading and football and proms and first dates and beach trips and marriages and grand babies.

They led a good life. They had celebrated many anniversaries and their love grew and grew.

Ethel developed abdominal pain. She had been quite healthy… but with CT scans and PET scans and ultrasounds, pancreatic cancer was discovered. The prognosis was poor. The doctors advised Mr. Bill to let his wife die peacefully. But he couldn’t. And day in and day out, every day without fail, he’d shuffle in to our ICU.

We knew the truth and so did he.

And on that fateful day, it all came to a halt. He watched the erratic rhythm on the EKG monitor. He watched us do compressions, fast and hard. He insisted on her being a full code because she couldn’t die on him.

She died 3 weeks ago.

And every early morning we walk down to the cafeteria, and there he is. Sitting in the corner with his newspaper and breakfast…. without looking up.

Maybe he’s not ready to say goodbye to his wife.

We want to hug him, hold his hand, talk to him, but we respectfully keep our distance.
He’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye.

Until then, he’ll shuffle in and out of that cafeteria. Waiting.

V.I.P. Status

We were told to wear masks before entering this patient’s ICU room. Entering his room, you could smell his rotting flesh. He was 92 years old.

His skin would slough off if you dared to bathe him.

His decubitus ulcers were raging with infection.

As long as I’ve been an ICU nurse, this was the worst — the smell, the neglect, the disrespect for this man.

He was VIP status.

I always had a problem with VIP status.

Either everyone was a VIP, or no one was.

Every patient should be treated with mutual respect and care.

He laid there motionless. Pupils fixed. No movement except for a deep sternal rub we would do to check any responsiveness. He laid on that bed on a ventilator churning inspiratory, expiratory.

Who was alive? Man or machine?

Because of his sepsis, multiple-system organ failure, and his dangerously low blood pressure, we had to place a central line in him.

IV pressors started.

And we waited and hoped and prayed that his suffering would soon be over.

He came from old southern money. His daddy started up textile mills in the south. And his daddy passed his legacy to him. Preston “The Second.”

The oldest of the boys.

He would continue to spread his textile mills to Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

But Preston was the king of the mills. And the king of the families that worked for him.

Sitting in his great, 9,000-square-feet Victorian house on a mountain top as his employees lived in the valley of the mill village. There were only identical two-bedroom, one-bath houses. The families that lived and breathed the mill life lived there.

During this time, textiles and cotton farming ruled.

Preston was a good man, though. He was a philanthropist. He loved the arts, and botanical gardens, operas, and Broadway plays. He loved his wife, his high school sweetheart, and his son and two daughters. And they led a good, bountiful life.

Preston financially helped his employees if they were sick or having money problems. He was their king, and they loved him.

By the time he was 70, his dear wife passed away. He was sad and lonely, and a new woman came into his life. She was full of energy. Loved the social life and gave Preston continuous love and affection. To his children, though, she was distant and superficial. His adult children caught on right away. She had her “eye on the prize.”

Preston married her. Anna had a taste for the finer things in life: antiques, clothes, dining, travel to exotic lands. Whatever she wanted, it was always the best that money could buy.

It was summertime and 80 degrees outside.

We were all working continuously in ICU without a break or quiet moment. We knew visiting hours were soon. The ICU doors opened.

In walks Preston’s wife Anna with a full mink coat, silk-lined. Really.

She wanted everything done to Preston.

And so we had to do the impossible. We had to torment this patient who desperately wanted to die.

His children wanted him off the ventilator. His children wanted their dad to rest peacefully without all of the medicines or the intrusive ventilator.

Dad wasn’t even responsive. But their step-mother insisted. Everything was to be done.

We were told by the children that his wife wanted him alive because when he died, her flow of money ended. She would only be given an allowance.

You see, Preston eventually realized what his wife was all about.

So we carried on. Turning his body. Cleaning up his feces in bed as he had no control. Washing him as his skin sloughed off.

The rotting smell of a man who should have been dead. It became unbearable.

Several days later, he finally died — his children on one side of his bed.

His wife, in her mink coat, on the other side of the bed.

Love versus greed.

We were grateful and thankful that this great man that everyone loved was finally able to rest in peace.