Maria Nelda Saenz grew up in the small Texas ranching community of Hebbronville.
Her family didn’t have much.
At the young age of 18, my mom decided to go to nursing school. She worked tirelessly to put herself through school.
I still remember her stories about how stressful it had been to simply find the funding for her text books and uniforms.
My mom even once said, “Patricia, it was by the Grace of God that I made it through the years of nursing school with just a single pair of stockings!”
As a child, I remember going to visit my mom at work in the Emergency Department at Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital.
She worked such long, long hours, my dad would often bring my sister and brother and I with a bag full of food to the ER, just for the opportunity to share a meal together.
I also vividly remember holidays.
One Christmas morning in particular, my entire family woke up long before dawn so we could open presents with my mom before she headed into work on the holiday.
It wasn’t always easy for us.
As a mom myself now, I know it could not have been easy for her either.
Through the years, however, I remember my mom sharing stories upon stories of the patients she cared for.
They stuck someplace deep inside me for a very long time, and, it was these very conversations – hearing how she cared for patients and helped save lives – that ultimately steered my own journey toward becoming a physician.
My mom eventually turned her career to taking care of children as a school nurse.
When I see her with my young allergy patients today, I can’t help but see the Nurse Nelda of yesteryear. Her colleagues then told stories of a school nurse who would often be seen outside of school walls after hours, buying winter coats for her students in need.
My mom also spent a portion of her career teaching future nurses at Del Mar College.
After many years of serving her community as a nurse, my mom, retired.
However, for her, retirement was short-lived.
After only a short time away from shots, prescriptions, and more, my mom put back on that beloved nursing cap – to help me start Advanced Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. As it turns out, my mom’s joke about being paid a lot and working a little turned out quite the opposite! She works tirelessly at Advanced Allergy out of her love for me and our patients.
This month, my mom, Nurse Nelda Saenz, celebrates 50 years of nursing.
It is heartwarming that such an important anniversary also falls so close to Mother’s Day.
I am blessed to have her as both my mother and my colleague.
When you see her around the office this month, please join me in showering her with the same respect, care, and admiration that she has selflessly given to so so many patients over so many years.
Congratulations, Mom – and, thank you.