Paul Gingras first met Ken Waugh at the home of a friend who acquired a Christmas tree from Kenny’s family farm in New Braintree, Massachusetts. Paul was invited to his friends home to help decorate the Christmas tree.
His friend often spoke about his friendship with Ken Waugh. He said that Ken was a farmer and a very dedicated nurse at a local hospital and that Ken had served as a medic in the army during the Vietnam conflict, and elected not to carry a weapon. Paul also served as a medic in the army during the Vietnam conflict, but not in a combat area.
As Paul was introduced to Ken, he noticed Ken was wearing nursing attire that was common in Army and Veterans Administration hospitals in the bygone era of the 1950’s. He know this because soon after he left the Army, he briefly worked at a Veterans Administration hospital and all the male nurses were dressed exactly like Ken was dressed that evening. This made Paul extremely curious about this person Ken Waugh.
Ken stated that he could not stay for the tree decorating because he had to go to work at the hospital for his 11:00pm to 7:00 am shift. It was snowing this particular evening but the hospital that Ken worked at was a short distance from the party location and Paul thought it odd that Ken had to leave so soon. What he did not know at the time, was that Ken had for years been going to the hospital early and staying after his shift ended
He was very dedicated to his patients, and felt that if he had reported to work at his regular 11:00 pm time, most of his patients would be sleeping. Ken would go to work early so that he could be with his patients and listen to their concerns and stay after his shift to write the required notes. Ken’s mantra was that being a nurse was to take care of the patient, listen to and observe them, not to be writing reports that took time away from caring for them.
As Ken was leaving, to go to work, he paused and invited Paul to a Monday night supper group at his Unitarian Church. For years Ken had organized a supper at the Church and he would provide fresh produce from his farm. Paul started to attend the Monday suppers and became good friends with Ken. In the spring Ken invited Paul Gingas, Barbara Valentine and Richard Paul Hoyer to help with the gardens at his family farm.
This time spent with Ken has left an indelible mark on the soul of Paul Gingas.