August 27, 2014
By Adam Raider
A 2014 recipient of the Norma J. Brandt Nursing Scholarship,
Masonicare’s Suzanne Timbro remembers how her mother’s love and
sacrifice inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.
Joyce Russell was working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) when
her fiancée, Robert Condron, departed for Japan to serve in the Korean
War. Although she had hoped to continue her education to become a
registered nurse (RN), she had to make a difficult choice when Robert
returned: get married or go back to school. She chose to get married and
continue as an LPN. When Suzanne was born in 1964, Joyce stopped
practicing her nursing outside the home to be a full-time mom.
“I didn’t really get to see my mother nursing in a professional
sense,” Suzanne recalled. “But I watched her take care of both of my
grandmothers in our home, starting with my father’s mother. And then,
when I was about 10 years old, I was in a pretty serious car accident
and missed a whole year of school. My mother cared for me while I
recuperated. So while she didn’t talk a lot about her career as a nurse,
I experienced the compassion she had for others. It was the power of
Suzanne decided at an early age that she also wanted to pursue a career in medicine.
“I wanted to be a doctor,” she said. “I used to pull out all my
mother’s books – the Merck Manual, her nursing guides – and I’d read
them. I was fascinated by them.While my friends were playing with Barbie
dolls, I wanted to perform brain surgery on Barbie.”
But, like so many of us, Suzanne admits that she “got a little
sidetracked” in high school and her career aspirations were put on hold.
She got married, had children, got divorced, and worked two jobs to
support her family. Ten years later, feeling burned-out and unfulfilled
professionally, she arrived at a crossroads.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m 35 years old with three little kids and a
GED – what am I going to do with myself?’ I’d had my fill of driving a
school bus and didn’t care for waitressing. The one thing I knew I could
do was take care of other people. So I answered an ad for a nursing
assistant job at a nursing home five minutes from where I lived in
Middletown. It was tough at first. It’s hard, physical work. But I hung
At the encouragement of a coworker, Suzanne enrolled in an LPN
program at a local technical school, eventually graduating with high
honors. She was assigned to a unit at the same facility where she’d been
working as a CNA.
“I did that for eight years and loved it,” she said.“I knew I’d found
my calling, and I fell in love with the elderly. I absolutely loved
them and still do. Where else could I work where I’d have 30 adopted
grandparents? They have so many stories to tell and so much wisdom to
impart. These were people from my community – the lawyer, the teacher,
the person who worked at the grocery store – and I felt that in caring
for them, I was giving back. And I found that because I was raised in a
home with my grandmothers, I had the ability to connect with the elderly
in a way that some younger people couldn’t.”
Suzanne, who has since remarried,went back to school to become an RN.
In 2012, she left the Middletown facility to accept a position as
clinical nurse manager at Masonicare Health Center.
“Before then,” she said, “I didn’t know anything about Masonicare
except what I’d heard from the chair of the nursing program at Goodwin
College who used to work here. She’d tell me that Masonicare Health
Center was the Cadillac of nursing homes. She was right. This is a great
place. There’s an integrity and adherence to certain values. Executive
management talks about it all the time, and I feel like they’re really
supportive of us. They want us to be successful. They want us to be
there for the patients. I sense a patriotic spirit here, too, which I
think has a lot to do with the company’s ties tothe Masons.To prepare
myself, I read about the fraternity before I came to work here and I
found it to be very interesting. I actually wish I’d been exposed to it
Suzanne is deeply grateful to have received a Brandt Nursing
Scholarship. It will help pay forclassesat Goodwin, where she is
continuing her studies towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. She is
mindful of the opportunities she has that her mother did not and wishes
that Joyce, who passed away last May while under the care of Masonicare
Home Health & Hospice, could have seen her accept the award.
“But I sensed she was with me at the ceremony,” she said, “in spirit and in my heart.”