When Ms. Nina speaks, you listen. The kindness in her eyes combined with the matter-of-fact tone she uses when she speaks gives her an air of comfort and confidence – as though she’d be the first one to give you a hug when you walk through the door and then set you straight for however long it took until she was sure she had set you straight (for the record, I absolutely adore women who possess this unique quality).
Sitting down with Ms. Nina, she let me know quickly of her plans to stay at the facility: ‘I won’t be here long. I’m not staying. Just getting my hips fixed and then I’ll be home.’
After a brief discussion on the operations of the facility (what was working and what needed to be fixed), I asked her about some of the photos on her wall. She may not have plans to stay long but the great care she took to display several professional, well-framed images was impressive.
“That’s Jason and Jasmine, they’re twins. They’re 14 years old and now Jason is six foot (Jaz is a normal size). Those are my Grands. When Jason was born, the Doctors said, ‘Here (makes a gesture holding out her arms)’. So that’s my little boy! Jaz was 3 lbs., so she had to go into the NICU. When I looked and saw her…(hushed) I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t touch her. She was so small, had pins and needles all over her.
"She had reflux very, very bad and I didn’t know what to do with her. We would hold her, burp her, put her in the swing…and she finally outgrew it. She always went hand to hand but I always held on to Jason. I have 3 boys and – (eyes wide and bright) it’s boys! To this day he still listens to me.
"I talk to them every day, I call at 10 to 4 and make sure they’re in the house. ‘Get something to eat and do your homework. Until someone comes home, stay in the house.’ I know it’s repetitious. They’re on the honor roll. I keep pushing them like a shovel.”
Like Ms. Nina, her beautifully displayed photos are well dressed and properly displayed. There’s a formality about them that could make it easy for outsiders to simply take a quick, appreciative glance at them and not dig a little deeper to find out the gem that’s hidden beneath. But Ms. Nina knows and if you stick around a little longer, she's likely to treat you to more than just a pretty smile.