Carolyn Jourdan had it all: the Mercedes Benz, the fancy soirees, the best clothes. She moved in the most exclusive circles in Washington, D.C., rubbed elbows with big politicians, and worked on Capitol Hill. As far as she was concerned, she was changing the world.
And then her mother had a heart attack. Carolyn came home to help her father with his rural medical practice in the Tennessee mountains. She’d fill in for a few days as the receptionist until her mother could return to work. Or so she thought. But days turned into weeks.
Her job now included following hazmat regulations for cleaning up bodily fluids; maintaining composure when confronted with a splinter the size of a steak knife; distinguishing between a “pain,” a “strain,” and a “sprain” on indecipherable Medicare forms; and tending to the loquacious Miss Hiawatha, whose daily doctor visits were never billed.
Eventually, Jourdan gave up her Mercedes and made do with a twenty-year-old postal jeep. She shed her suits for scrubs. And the funny thing was, she liked her new life. As she watched her father work tirelessly and uncomplainingly, she saw what making a difference really meant: being on call all hours of the day and night, tolerating the local drug addict’s frequent phone calls, truly listening to Miss Hiawatha. It meant just showing up, every day, and taking care of every person in Strawberry Plains and beyond, whether he got paid to do it or not. And for his daughter, it meant learning that her real place to change the world was right here—in her hometown—by her father’s side.