Still Waters: Grateful for those who serve

April and May have included several weeks, days or months of recognition for various segments or causes in our communities.

For example, April was both National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, both very important issues to remember and recognize. All of us know victims of both child abuse and sexual assault, unfortunately some combined. Protecting the most vulnerable among us is a responsibility each of us must take seriously.

Among the groups recognized in May are municipal clerks, nurses, teachers and law enforcement officers. Most of us take each of these groups for granted.

Municipal clerks keep our cities running smoothly, and in our city our municipal clerk is also clerk of the municipal court, so she has her hands full, bless her! In Alamosa since I have lived here, we have been very blessed to have skilled, competent, dedicated and efficient city clerks. They have all been women, at least in my residency here, and our current clerk Holly Martinez is probably the youngest we have had. I hope she remains in that office for many years, as our former city clerks have. Assisting her in the clerk’s and municipal court’s office are two other very capable women, Susanna Gallegos and Lachelle Montano. Alamosa is fortunate to have these ladies in our city hall.

Nurses are another group honored this month and represent a group of men and women who are often taken for granted and sometimes mistreated by cranky patients who take their discomfort out on the closest person they can find. Nurses, nurses aides and others assisting at sick folks’ bedsides often have to put up with as many indignities as the patients themselves. Having been a relatively healthy person all of my life (and grateful to be in good health now), I gained a new appreciation for nursing and other medical staff five years ago when I underwent cancer surgery. I can see why folks call these staff angels, because many of them certainly were so kind during a time that was traumatic and difficult for me. I appreciated every kind, compassionate and competent act.

Very appropriately, nurses are especially honored on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. (Happy 198th birthday!)

Teachers are also honored this month, and I don’t think there’s a single one of us who hasn’t been influenced by a special teacher or many special teachers over the years. I am grateful every day for Miss Bateman who taught me shorthand at Moffat County High School more years ago than I care to admit. I use it every day. She probably had no idea how much this skill would mean to me over the years, first in taking notes in college and then taking notes in my work ever since. Years before that a teacher in a one-room church school I attended in rural Oklahoma, Mrs. Byers (I think I’m spelling her name correctly) helped me learn my multiplication tables and other tricks of the mathematical kind. I am terribly inadequate when it comes to high finance or even low finance, but I can tell you the answer to 9x5, thanks to Mrs. Byers, who has long since gone to rest.

(She also is the only teacher who had to discipline me because I slapped a little girl who accosted my little sister, but that’s another story.)

This month we also honor our law enforcement officers who really do put their lives at risk every day they wear the badge. As I am working in the evenings (and throughout the day) finishing the paper up, I hear the scanner chatter. I hear calls for everything from domestic disturbances and suicidal parties to suspected prowlers and combative intoxicated people. I have never once heard an officer respond to a call, “I don’t think I’ll take that one,” or “That sounds too dangerous. Send somebody else.” There is always a response, “on my way.”

Often the officer, whether a municipal police officer or sheriff’s deputy or state trooper, is alone in his or her vehicle, because there are not enough officers to buddy up on every call. That sole officer will check out a suspicious shadow outside someone’s home or respond to someone who is threatening to take his or her life or will stop a vehicle that has been speeding or swerving. Sometimes it’s just serving a warrant, but each incident carries the potential of harm to that officer involved.

Yet they respond every time.

They are very often respectful to those who are not responding in kind. They are very often caring for those who have just experienced incredible trauma, perhaps through an accident or assault or worse. They are very often the first ones to show up when everyone else is trying to get away.

None of these jobs are ones I would want to do or felt called to do, whether nurse or teacher or police officer. Each takes a special kind of person to do the task well.

We are so fortunate for those who are up to those tasks and have responded to the call to serve.