Everyone knows the story of Alice in Wonderland. Now I am going to tell you the story of the wonderful Alice.
Alice is one of my three best friends. I have known her since 1980 when we began to work together at the VA Medical Center in Albany, NY. I was a dialysis nurse and Alice was a dietitian. She was newly transferred to Albany from California and assigned to the dialysis unit. The first thing she taught me was the correct spelling of dietitian.
We became fast friends having antiques, mystery novels and counted cross stitch in common. Every day we would have coffee and lunch together and enjoy each other’s company. Over the years, we have joined some clubs together including the Embroiderer’s Guild, The Half Moon Button Club and the Van Rensselaer Garden Club. In 2019, Alice helped me decorate the downstairs kitchen in the Hart Cluett Museum for the Greens Show.
What I like most about Alice is her follow through on projects. She always completed anything she committed to such as teaching patient classes, helping with the Wive’s Support Group or writing articles. We taught two major workshops on renal failure and the renal diet, one at the Batavia VA and one at Russell Sage College.
Alice is a gourmet cook and because she is a dietitian, her meals are always healthy. I am a dud in the kitchen. I once made raisin popovers and forgot to put the raisins in. That year, Alice got my name for the grab bag for the dialysis unit Christmas party. She got me a cookbook titled Three Ingredients or Less. I still have it, but I still can’t cook.
Alice also sews. She has made me curtains for my home and most recently face masks with themes suitable for my club meetings. She used patriot material for my DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) meetings and material with buttons on it for the button club meetings. Too bad these meetings didn’t happen because of the pandemic.
Two stories come to mind. We were at the antiques festival at Round Lake. I saw a quilt that I liked and it had a price tag of $100. I was new at antique buying and Alice told me to offer the owner $75 because they always price objects high so they could bargain. So, I did offer $75. The woman was horrified. “That is a $800 quilt, hand stitched and quilted in the late 1800s!” I showed her the price tag for $100. She said someone else put that there and she showed me the correct price tag.
The second story was when I accidentally hit the dialysis unit emergency button for a Code 4 (similar to a code blue in other hospitals). I actually fell into it on the wall after stepping over our 6’4” L.P.N.’s out stretched legs. I immediately ran to the phone to cancel the emergency, but the operator answered saying “I can’t talk, I have a code to announce” and she hung up. The nephrologist in the room suggested Alice lay on the floor and pretend she was the victim. Alice refused. I would have too. Alice had beautiful clothes; much too nice to lay on the floor even to help a friend out.
Another thing Alice taught me was the correct spelling of bon appetit. I had made a patient teaching poster containing a recipe suitable for a renal diet. On the bottom I had put “bone appetite”. Alice was a French major before switching to dietetics. I had to put the correct spelling on a small piece of poster board and glue it over the incorrect spelling.
Alice gave my parents advice on my father’s diet related to his hemochromatosis (excess iron in the body). My parents thought the world of her. My Dad often said that if he had a second daughter, he would pick Alice.
Unfortunately, Alice and I have both had breast cancer twice. We have supported each other through this. She has been a great resource for me.
I retired from the VA in 2004 and we have remained friends. She is currently living in Texas for the winter, but we email each other a couple of times a day. She reads and edits all my stories continuing to correct my spelling, except this one. I hope to surprise her with it to let her know how much I admire and appreciate her kindness, friendship, support, editing and spelling tips.