Nettie Shulman
July 28, 1922 – November 23, 2020
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Thoughts and Words by Nettie Shulman

These are pieces of writing by Nettie Shulman, illuminating a marvelous window into her expressions and experiences of the world. This small selection represents choice passages dear to both herself and impactful to those around her.

A Day of Promise

A Moment of Oneness


Scrabble on the Beach

Self Awareness

True To Oneself



Emergency Room


To the NYC Labor Chorus

Emergency Room

The room was turning upside down. The doctor recommended 911. I felt embarrassed to be seen by the neighbors, being wheeled on the gurney into the ambulance, which to me was a hearse.

The hub of the emergency room did not in anyway make it real for me; a place to be helped. It felt like a warehouse for invisible people. There was no empty space against the walls, so I was placed between the medicine cabinets and a nurse seated at her computer. Each time a nurse needed to open a drawer of the cabinet, I had to be moved slightly nearer to the nurse at the computer. Her back stiffened as this pariah was an inch from her back.

A man about 30 with tattooed muscular arms, leaving no room to see the color of his skin announces that he is my nurse. He is unsmiling and when questioned about a detail, informs me it is his second day on the job. Immediately there was role reversal; a stressed worker; make no demands.

My fellow patients lie on their cots, quiet, resigned; non-communicative. I was in the theatre, seeing 'Waiting for Godot'.

As the hours passed the invisibles became people. The two cots facing me were both mother and daughter teams. In one case the daughter was the patient and her mother, the caring support person. They appeared to be Spanish. Both short with rounded, full faces . The difference between them were only years. They did not speak; the commitment and the caring was loud and clear.

In the second cot lay a beautiful black woman about 30 and nestled beside her was her little girl of eight. The mother was the patient. The child reflected the understanding of a mature adult. She knew how to help; just be there.

Time passed; nature was calling me to the bathroom, but how? The IV and fear of walking with no staff person available brought a look of panic to my eyes. The Spanish woman sees all and insists that she escort me. She capably disconnects the Iv from the stand, carries it and holds it as I seat myself on the toilet. How natural it all seemed.

When I was discharged there were no more lifeless souls waiting for godot before me. I was part of the people; reinforced that the future not only counts, but will be better.