Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Man Kitchen


I grew up with a man in the kitchen--my brother--who could, and still does, cook like an angel. Last night though, I met a man who told me about the man kitchen. I thought I knew what a man kitchen was, but apparently, I'd been misinformed.

He was likely a giant of a man at one time with impressive height and enormous hands the size of baseball mitts. These days, his hands are mangled from arthritis, and a multitude of illnesses have robbed him of energy, weight, and, yes, height. He walks well enough, but it takes him several minutes to move from sitting to standing in order to get anywhere. Standing upright is impossible and instead, he motors with stooped posture.

When I asked what he'd done for a living, he told me he worked in a man kitchen where he made steel for a paycheck. He said he adored that job and likened making steel to baking a cake. The recipe must be precise and the ingredients added one at a time until the mixture and great heat produced the perfect cake. Though hot, and grueling, he'd loved his life's work. Loved.



When I questioned this patient about pain, he refused to admit he had any, though to my trained eye, it was obvious he was suffering from some. It was not in his nature to complain. After much gentle prodding, he did admit there was pain that troubled him, but only in the mornings and only for a little while.

It's not often I meet someone so stoic, but I'm sure after serving in General Patton's army in WWII, and then a lifetime in a steel mill, one would learn to live with the obvious and pain becomes an every day fact of life that people like him just accept as normal. This is his price of admission to continued life, if you will.

My hope for this man is the plan I put into motion brings him the relief he deserves without clouding his senses. He has wonderful stories still to tell and I wouldn't want anything that I did bring those history lessons to a close.

While he may not know it, this beautiful human being brought me great joy last night, though I'm quite certain, I may have been the last person he wanted to meet. He was kind, gracious--a gentle giant--and meeting him reminds me why I love what I do for a living, too.

I will never again bake a cake without imagining the man kitchen and thinking of him.

16 comments:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

what a beautiful post!

and all the men in my family growing up worked in steel mills from the lowest to the highest positions from the grandfather to the cousins, all of them. and they loved it too.

and your post shows me you are a great choice for hospice honey. my daughter works in hospice too.

smiles, bee
xoxoxoxooxox

Anonymous said...

there are times when being a nurse seems like such a privilege

Miss 376 said...

What a privelege it is to be able to spend time with people like him.

Joanna said...

I loved reading this Rudee. You really saw this man with love and communicated it so well.

Ruth said...

As nurses we look after so many people, some we will never remember, but some will find a little place in our hearts and they will be forever remembered.It is such a privilage to look after people like this.

Rose said...

I am amazed by what you do. Amazed. Nursing is something I always think about, like a parallel path I could have taken. We both are in caretaking careers by choice, and while both careers have their frustrations and aggravations, it's wonderful when we are reminded why we chose them.

Gail said...

What a honor to meet such a man.

Make you both make a difference in each other's life.

The Bug said...

This was beautiful, & after reading it I think I'll just shut my whiny self up - I could use a little stoicism.

Finding Pam said...

Rudee, your vision in truely seeing this man for himself is amazing. I never knew about a "Man Kitchen". I hope this gentle man does not suffer in pain and that you are able to help him.

You are so special and I love that about you.

Stephanie V said...

A different generation, for sure. And I hope that when I need it, there is a caring nurse to care what I once could do. Thanks for this.

sapphireblue said...

There are a lot of people that would refuse to work in that sort of pain. He seems to push through it.

Brenda said...

Thanks for sharing this with us Rudee. You share the good times and bad times with us. I enjoy hearing you say these times are what makes it all worth while for you.

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

What an inspiring story. So true sometimes one story or insight can make up for all the hard, uncomfortable situations we find ourselves in. Those are the moments that keep us in the work. Can't wait to see the new creation modeled.
QMM

Denise said...

That's what I loved about nursing. Thanks for sharing it.

jeannette said...

So many unsung heroes -that's what he is, in my eyes.

CT said...

I really enjoy reading your blog, and when you post stories like this, I really cherish the fact that you share this with us. Thank you Rudee