Retirement hasn’t slowed down Sharron Paulson one bit.
If anything, leaving her nursing career in the rearview mirror has brought about even more busy days for the Prince Rupert resident.
“I’ve really enjoyed my retirement immensely,” said Sharron, now the Seniors’ Centre vice-president.
After more than 45 years working in hospitals and doctors’ offices that has taken her across Canada, Sharron has found a permanent home in Prince Rupert, where she’s lived for the past 28 years.
Born in Nanaimo, Sharron was raised an only child – “not spoiled”, she adds, and after graduating high school, left home to train as a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital for three years.
Shortly after her training was completed and with no job lined up once they got there, Sharron and a friend left for Montréal via train to start their careers in Québec’s burgeoning metropolis. The duo took their chances with what little cash they had and were able to find work almost immediately.
“We were 21 and we were pretty nervous. We didn’t have very much money … We travelled across on coach to Montréal and the fellows on the coach would feed us stale sandwiches … We were young, we had fun.” said Sharron.
“We got balled out (scolded) when we got there [from our employer] and she told us we shouldn’t ever go like that without planning a job first,” she said, adding they were able to acquire work the next day.
After a year and a half, Sharron and her friend traded in the hustle and bustle of the populous Montréal for the quieter, but no less exciting Inuvik, located on top of the world, well within the Arctic Circle in the northwest corner of the Northwest Territories.
“Montréal’s huge and then we went into this town with only 1,200 permanent residents. It was really tiny, just kind of a government settlement,” said Sharron, who worked during a year’s contract in the north.
“I worked on surgery and maternity when I was there … It was basically light all the time in the summer and dark all the time in the winter. We could play ball at night and did things like Reindeer Days and went across the river to Aklavik and all these other outlying places.”
Her nursing adventures continued back on a B.C. tour through Nanaimo, Fort St. John, Victoria, Dawson Creek, Prince George and finally Prince Rupert.
Through her career, Sharron experienced all different forms of the job, including the pediatrics, surgery and maternity wards and doctors’ offices. At Prince Rupert, she enjoyed the maternity ward most.
“I really liked helping the mothers with their labour. I love seeing the miracle of birth and the one thing I do miss in retirement is just that part of it,” she said.
Now, Sharron enjoys the company of her husband and Rupert fisherman Paul, married now for 24 years. As vice-president of the Seniors’ Centre for the past three years, the Rupertite plans on the executive committee and organizes and plays Bridge, Cribbage and Whist. With Paul, she won a bronze medal at the 2014 BC Seniors’ Games in Langley in Cribbage. Paul plays cards twice a week and shows up on Friday – hamburger day.
Perhaps she’s most commonly seen helping out in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning and preparing meals for the seniors who she loves to meet.
“You get to know them so well, these older people, and they’re just great. You kind of look after them. If they don’t come for awhile, we phone them and try our best to keep them coming,” she said.
The centre has planned meals for each day and on the first Sunday of every month, Sharron buys the groceries and helps prepare a pancake breakfast.
“It’s great. We usually do very well. It’s how we make our money,” she said.
In addition to her work at the Seniors Centre, Sharron will accompany Paul on the fishing boat from time to time – “I don’t get seasick anymore like I used to,” she adds – helping him gillnet.
Mother of Paige and Aaron, as well as Janine, who passed away in 1976 from leukaemia, and grandmother to Raven, Christopher and Breann (who runs Strands Hair Studio), Sharron enjoys seeing her grandkids and Paige’s children, Ben and Sophia from Terrace, play hockey and dance.
Just this past week, she returned from a trip to Richmond with the family to watch 10-year-old Ben take on the Lower Mainland on the ice.
“They got the gold medal,” she said.
“[Ben] can play either [forward or defence], but he’s a really good forward and he can score goals and he thinks he’s famous.”
The Rupertite looks back fondly on her days nursing but continues to tear it up in card games and on the fishing boat, and enjoys watching her family grow. She’ll attend this year’s BC Seniors’ Games as well, this time in North Vancouver in August.
“I do miss helping moms and I love babies so it was great. I miss that part of it, but I don’t miss it enough that I want to go back. I’m too old now, but I loved it. It was my thing,” she said.