"It ain't easy to break out of a mold, but if you do your work, people will ultimately see what you're capable of. Too often, people find it easier to make assumptions and stick with what they believe. They put you in a place and it makes their job easier. The good people constantly search for something different." -- Christopher Meloni
Some folks spend a lifetime searching for the one occupation that will bring them fame, fortune and happiness ... and never find it. And then there are people like Brad Macy, who has spent his life doing what he loves most -- helping the elderly. As he sums up his career, no amount of money or recognition can supplant what he's been doing most of his life -- working as a hospice nurse.
The third of four children, Brad was 5 years old when his father died, leaving the burden of raising him and his siblings entirely on his mother. The family left Evanston, Ill., the city where Brad was born, shortly thereafter and headed to Southern California to be close to his maternal grandparents.
Brad's sister speaks of his early life:
"When he was a teenager, Brad worked for a while in a nursing home. I think he was just a fairly low-level orderly or something. As I remember it, one day he arrived home from work with this very, very elderly lady from the home. She was quite senile.
"Brad had just befriended her and decided to take her for a day out visit to our house. Of course, it was completely against the rules to just walk off with one of the patients. But that hadn't occurred to Brad. Why shouldn't she have a day out? Our mother was both horrified and amused as she suggested that maybe it was time to take the lady back to her home.
"That's how I always think of Brad and his nursing. He didn't see this woman as a senile patient. He saw her as a human being and he reached out in genuine friendship. What a gift."
Which reminds me of the following quote by Mother Teresa:
"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy that kind of poverty."
Although Brad's mother never remarried, his Uncle Fran assumed the role of surrogate father, filling in the void left by his own father's passing. A Harvard graduate and Peace Corps volunteer, Fran had quite an illustrious career and at one time served as citizen ambassador to Russia.
Fran proved to be an ideal model for Brad and, according to family members, Brad was a lot like him.
Brad graduated from Cal State Long Beach, and several years later enrolled at USF to enhance his vocational education. Finding the Bay Area to his liking while in school, he never returned to Southern California except to visit there on occasion.
Brad eventually made his way to Contra Costa County, and it was in 2005, while he was on duty at a hospice gathering that he met his future wife, Ellen, who was seeking help for her ailing mother. The couple married a year later.
In his career as a certified Hospice and palliative care nurse spanning more than 30 years, Brad has developed and patented various proven ways to alleviate pain and suffering of terminally ill patients which is expected to be introduced to hospitals here and abroad in the near future.
In gratitude of his years of selfless service to the elderly, Brad is scheduled to be inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society at USF this November. He will also be recognized as Nurse of the Year at the National Association of Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses annual National Conference in New Orleans in March 2013.
So what's Brad been up to lately?
I attended a business meeting at the Macy's home a few months back. Before the gathering adjourned, Brad received a call from one of his patients and quickly left after excusing himself. To those who know Brad, his sudden departure came as no surprise.
According to Ellen, Brad was gone until early the next morning. Although emergency call outs happen infrequently, it's not unusual for him to receive calls anytime throughout the day and even on his days off.
It amazes me that Brad isn't affected by his recent fame or the proverbial burnout syndrome after being on a physically as well as mentally taxing job for more than 30 years!
Then again, I reckon when you stand 6 feet, 5 inches tall, you can handle most anything!
Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.