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It’s Never Too Late

It was an unusually busy day for the hospital staff on the sixth floor. Ten new patients were admitted and Nurse Susan spent the morning and afternoon checking them in.

Her friend Sharron, an aide, prepared ten rooms for the patients and made sure they were comfortable. After they were finished she grabbed Sharron and said, “We deserve a break. Let’s go eat.”

Sitting across from each other in the noisy cafeteria, Susan noticed Sharron absently wiping the moisture off the outside of her glass with her thumbs. Her face reflected a weariness that came from more than just a busy day.

“You’re pretty quiet. Are you tired, or is something wrong?” – Susan asked.

Sharron hesitated. However, seeing the sincere concern in her friend’s face, she confessed, “I can’t do this the rest of my life, Susan. I have to find a higher-paying job to provide for my family. We barely get by. If it weren’t for my parents keeping my kids, well, we wouldn’t make it.”

Susan noticed the bruises on Sharron’s wrists peeking out from under her jacket.

“What about your husband?”

“We can’t count on him. He can’t seem to hold a job. He’s got . . . problems.”

“Sharron, you’re so good with patients, and you love working here. Why don’t you go to school and become a nurse? There’s financial help available, and I’m sure your parents would agree to keep the kids while you are in class.”

“It’s too late for me, Susan; I’m too old for school. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, that’s why I took this job as an aide; at least I get to care for patients.”

“How old are you?” – Susan asked.

“Let’s just say I’m thirty-something.”

Susan pointed at the bruises on Sharron’s wrists. “I’m familiar with ‘problems’ like these. Honey, it’s never too late to become what you’ve dreamed of. Let me tell you how I know.”

Susan began sharing a part of her life few knew about. It was something she normally didn’t talk about, only when it helped someone else.

“I first married when I was thirteen years old and in the eighth grade.”

Sharron gasped.

“My husband was twenty-two. I had no idea he was violently abusive. We were married six years and I had three sons. One night my husband beat me so savagely he knocked out all my front teeth. I grabbed the boys and left.

“At the divorce settlement, the judge gave our sons to my husband because I was only nineteen and he felt I couldn’t provide for them. The shock of him taking my babies left me gasping for air. To make things worse, my ex took the boys and moved, cutting all contact I had with them.

“Just like the judge predicted, I struggled to make ends meet. I found work as a waitress, working for tips only. Many days my meals consisted of milk and crackers. The most difficult thing was the emptiness in my soul. I lived in a tiny one-room apartment and the loneliness would overwhelm me. I longed to play with my babies and hear them laugh.”

She paused. Even after four decades, the memory was still painful. Sharron’s eyes filled with tears as she reached out to comfort Susan. Now it didn’t matter if the bruises showed.

Susan continued, “I soon discovered that waitresses with grim faces didn’t get tips, so I hid behind a smiling mask and pressed on. I remarried and had a daughter. She became my reason for living, until she went to college.

“Then I was back where I started, not knowing what to do with myself – until the day my mother had surgery. I watched the nurses care for her and thought: I can do that. The problem was, I only had an eighth-grade education. Going back to high school seemed like a huge mountain to conquer. I decided to take small steps toward my goal. The first step was to get my GED. My daughter used to laugh at how our roles reversed. Now I was burning the midnight oil and asking her questions.”

Susan paused and looked directly in Sharron’s eyes. “I received my diploma when I was forty-six years old.”

Tears streamed down Sharron’s cheeks. Here was someone offering the key that might unlock the door in her dark life.

“The next step was to enroll in nursing school. For two long years I studied, cried and tried to quit. But my family wouldn’t let me. I remember calling my daughter and yelling, ‘Do you realize how many bones are in the human body, and I have to know them all! I can’t do this, I’m forty-six years old!’ But I did. Sharron, I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt when I received my cap and pin.”

Sharron’s lunch was cold, and the ice had melted in her tea by the time Susan finished talking. Reaching across the table and taking Sharron’s hands, Susan said, “You don’t have to put up with abuse. Don’t be a victim – take charge. You will be an excellent nurse. We will climb this mountain together.”

Sharron wiped her mascara-stained face with her napkin. “I had no idea you suffered so much pain. You seem like someone who has always had it together.”

“I guess I’ve developed an appreciation for the hardships of my life,” Susan answered. “If I use them to help others, then I really haven’t lost a thing. Sharron, promise me that you will go to school and become a nurse. Then help others by sharing your experiences.”

Sharron promised. In a few years she became a registered nurse and worked alongside her friend until Susan retired. Sharron never forgot her colleague or the rest of her promise.

Now Sharron sits across the table taking the hands of those who are bruised in body and soul, telling them, “It’s never too late. We will climb this mountain together.”

By Linda Carol Apple
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living Your Dreams


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{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Fridah Magaba August 31, 2017, 3:58 am

    While!! everyone has a beautiful story to tell…So inspiring and motivational. I really have been strengthened. If they were in these shoes that i am in today, and successfully got out of them. Then i too can! Please keep writing. I truly appreciate!

  • Rosa December 10, 2016, 2:15 pm

    It is an inspiring story.

  • Winston March 31, 2016, 7:01 am

    WOW! What VERY touching story!

  • Asra Anjum March 28, 2015, 3:18 pm

    This story gives lot of enery and full motivation to readers. Thank u author for sharing such a good stories for us.
    God bless u.

  • Srikant February 8, 2015, 2:10 pm

    It Is Never Too Late. We Will Climb Again Is The Motivation Words Of The Story

  • Ankit sharma February 1, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Nice story. ..re-enenergising lives

  • Nikesh September 18, 2014, 3:19 pm

    Touching

  • Umesh August 22, 2014, 5:44 am

    Wow great story ….. I think we all have huge strength. We should not take back step due to any problem that encountering in our life because we got life once we must enjoy it ……

  • Sandeep August 9, 2014, 12:58 am

    Very nice story. I love it.

  • Ruth jen Eucogco July 27, 2014, 12:42 am

    Very inspiring indeed.

  • Ruth jen eucogco July 26, 2014, 4:11 am

    Everyday is a new beginning. it means everyday is a blessing. So if you are going to start your life today,why not? Our age will never matter only our willingness to go on and start a new life in a way we choose to be.

  • Jagan July 19, 2014, 3:16 am

    Really gave inspiration… I love it…

  • Karimoon shaik July 10, 2014, 8:00 am

    This story has inspired me

  • Savita July 4, 2014, 6:08 am

    Very good inspired me

  • Reianna June 19, 2014, 9:37 pm

    Love the story. People might be laughing at you and saying that you are too old to go to Uni but it doesn’t matter. if you die, Education is still present so no matter how old you are, you can do it.

  • Leah May 29, 2014, 7:08 am

    It is true, never too late for someone to be blessed…

  • Vietkieusa March 24, 2014, 10:18 pm

    This is a story that some people with a negative attitude may say “this is only a story, fictitious or not who can say yes or no”, in other words with a negative attitude someone may doubt about such thing can happen. Let me share with whoever is reading this comment the real story of my life to help you say with conviction “To be successful or not to be successful to start a new life doesn’t depend on your age, but only on your willingness”. I was a captain in the South Vietnamese army before 1975, incarcerated after the war in Vietnamese Communist Concentration camps for close to eight years, escaped from Vietnam by boat up to 13 times before I succeded finally to reach the U.S. when I was already 44. I went back to college from scratch as a full-time student while working full-time and graduated with a BS Degree with double majors in Computer Information System and Business administration after 4 years, and of course kept working, and earning a decent salary, until I recently retired.

  • Newman March 22, 2014, 6:24 am

    Truly inspirational. It’s a way we can overcome our fears & focus on our strength & our goal. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

  • R.Shivaram March 20, 2014, 8:14 am

    Nice Story Starvation to Star

  • Rita March 12, 2014, 7:57 pm

    Thanks Steve it is a very good story may the ones that falls into being victims have courage and pray for survival and have someone to help them.

    Have faith in God he will always get us back in the right path i have been a victim of emotional abuse.

  • Sagar March 10, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Incredible episode of life share with epitome of inspiration. Thanks a lot. I make wonder to many life.

  • Nana appiah March 9, 2014, 4:24 am

    Truly beautiful and inspiring

  • Anjali March 7, 2014, 2:25 am

    Truly inspirational especially for people who think that its already late to begin…

  • Divya March 7, 2014, 12:54 am

    Very inspiring… I never loose hope by reading these stories on your site… Thank you very much for always keeping me so much motivated and energetic…

  • Trust March 6, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Very inspiring

  • Sumi March 6, 2014, 3:26 am

    Very nice & motivational story.. good job.

  • Varalakshmi March 5, 2014, 5:47 am

    Wonderful, it is never too late. Thanks.

  • Ben roko March 5, 2014, 5:18 am

    Love the story, exactly what I needed. Thanks.

  • Rajan munda March 5, 2014, 2:03 am

    Too much helpful in motivating me.

  • Krunal March 4, 2014, 5:47 am

    Really inspirational.. It’s never too late to start and to begin.

  • Sibusiso March 4, 2014, 4:08 am

    Wow.. we are never to old to change our lives, reach for our dreams, take ownership get that education after all time flies….

  • Bhawna March 4, 2014, 2:46 am

    Beautiful story!! We all need to know our strengths in us.. they are in all of us.. thank u so much for sharing!!

  • Kauser March 4, 2014, 1:00 am

    Very nice and emotional too. Inspiring…

  • Prasurjya March 3, 2014, 11:06 pm

    Nice… very nice indeed… inspiration really works for one who is seriously down n suffering.. God Bless..

  • Sangeeta March 3, 2014, 10:56 pm

    Very inspiring. Will share with my team to motivate them. I always do. Thank u. Plz send atleast one new story in a week.

  • Sarah March 3, 2014, 5:03 pm

    I loooooooooooove it!!! We will, together.

  • Madhuraja March 3, 2014, 2:27 pm

    Very nice inspirational story thank you for sharing…..

  • Mayank March 3, 2014, 1:31 pm

    It’s never late in life. We have to start our day with a new step everyday because that new day belongs to us and we will certainly win it.

  • Manjunath s March 3, 2014, 1:11 pm

    The story is great. I love that statement, we will claim the mountain together.

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