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The Purpose of Life

The Purpose of Life

Wisdom from The Older Generations 

By Brooklin Painter 

The purpose of life is different from person to person based on their experience. Though each person’s experience is different, there is much to learn from older generations. The Collegian spoke with faculty and alumni members of Walla Walla University to discuss their experiences and wisdom on life. 

Trudy Klein is a contract clinical instructor for the school of nursing. Before working for WWU, Klein was a nurse for 27 years. She is an alumni who graduated with a master’s degree in 1972. 

A photo of Trudy Klein and her husband Jim Klein. Taken in 2017.

Klein said, “Our purpose in life is kind of like what Jesus said. The first and great commandment is to love God. The second is to love our fellow man. I don’t think that we, on our own, can even know or understand how to love God. We just have to be open to his love for us and his showing us how he wants us to live” is a growing experience that has challenges. She wishes she had the ability 50 years ago to trust God the ways she trusts him now. [1] 

Klein retired from nursing in June 2020, but God led her to WWU because she felt He needed her here. It has been the best part of her career because she gets to see her students make the decision to be a nurse and to watch them grow in their journey.  

Marissa Calzada is an alumni who graduated from the school of nursing in 2011. She has been a nurse for the last 11 years and currently works at Advent Health in Palm Coast, Florida.  

A photo of Marissa Calzada in her nursing attire. Taken on 9/22/2020.

According to Calzada, the purpose of life is to have deep roots in the relationships we have with others. “If we don’t engage, we will find we lack a purpose. Friends, family, and acquaintances can help us to navigate life,” said Calzada. [2] 

The wisdom Calzada has gained from her life experiences is due to being a bedside nurse and a supervisor for the hospital. She has experienced death many times and even more so over the pandemic. She has placed more bodies into the morgue and has transferred them to funeral homes more times than she ever has before. Calzada said, “We treat these patients with dignity and respect, however I also have experienced a sense of disconnect. I am not emotionally attached to the patient. I believe when they die they are asleep and resting in Christ.” [3] 

The wisdom Klein has gained from her life, she owes to God. “There is a text in the Bible that says, ‘Don’t worry over anything. Tell God all your troubles and earnest in thankful prayer and the peace that passes understanding will be with you [Philippians 4:6],'” said Klein. [4] 

In Klein’s career as a nurse, she has learned to really know her patients. She will not pass judgment to them because she has realized that everyone is affected by their previous life experiences. She appreciates the people she has gotten to know. 

The most rewarding experience Klein has had is seeing her patients get well. Her last six years as a nurse, she worked with patients who were fighting substance use disorder and psychosocial diagnoses. She was with a unit who specifically cared for veterans. It was rewarding for her to see them recover, leave their addictions behind, and continue working to better their lives. 

The most difficult experience Calzada has been through was working in an impatient unit as a bedside nurse. Over the course of several months, she worked with a patient who was being transitioned to hospice. She often thought of the care she was providing the patient as “chaotic, fast paced, dehumanized, and task-driven.” [5] 

Through those months of caring for her patient, Calzada was stressed and overworked from additionally caring for four other patients who also needed daily physical tasks to care for. One Sunday night, Calzada cried herself to sleep and said, “I won’t let her die alone, whatever it takes, delaying optional care of the four others, I’ll stay late after my shift, it doesn‘t matter.” [6] 

That Monday morning, Calzada sat with her hospice patient for an hour. She talked to her and played spa music through her phone for her patient to hear. That same day, the patient died with Calzada still holding her hand. She continued to sit with her patient even after death.  

Calzada said, “I wouldn’t want to die alone, her family didn’t want her to die alone. This woman’s life was valuable to her family, the influences she left in raising her children, the contributions she made to her community. I held the phone as she whispered the last words to her daughter, ‘I love you.’ Over the course of three days, I came to know her, I sought comfort for her. Her life mattered to me.” [7] 

See Also

The most difficult part of Klein’s career was working as a nurse manager at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “Middle management in a government institution is not an easy job, but I was grateful that I have years of life experience behind me,” said Klein. She took good care of her staff and patients, but it was difficult for her to make decisions that were not popular among her staff. Setting those management boundaries can be challenging. [8] 

Some things Klein wishes she would have done differently in her time is to be more patient and understanding of her children’s teenage years. She values the time she has with them and now with her grandchildren as well. Klein said, “To look at those little people and just be mindful of who they are right now and watch them grow and change is so exciting. I wish I had more of that when I was raising my own children.” Klein was glad to retire when she did because now she has more time to spend with her family. [9] 

A day after graduation, Klein married her college sweetheart. It has been a wonderful experience for her. Not long after they got married, Klein’s husband was drafted to the Vietnam War and she went with him to spend a year in Germany. They have now been married for 50 years and she said that her marriage just gets better every day. 

Throughout adulthood, Calzada has come to the understanding that “people come into your life for a time and a season.” She has friends who have influenced her life choices, but have grown apart from her through time, life changes, location movement, and death. [10] 

Calzada leaves younger generations with the advice of relationships with others. Calzada said, “Relationships are intentional and take work, but not all relationships are worth our own goals and aspirations and that is okay! Knowing people are in our life for a time and a season is a way I have accepted growing pains into adulthood. It is completely normal and can stress relationships. These are experiences we can learn from. I have come to truly love life as I have experienced loss but I know I would be nothing without the relationships I have with others.” [11] 

Klein leaves students with the advice to trust in God. “I know it’s hard when you are a college student, you have all those stressors of school. But if we can all just believe that if we walk each day following the principles that God has taught us and asking for His guidance, that’s all that matters at this time, that day and that moment, the encounters and interactions you have with people. Really taking the time to enjoy and appreciate the people in your life.” [12] 

References 

  1. Interview with Trudy Klein, 2/24/2022. 
  1. Interview with Marissa Calzada, 2/25/2022. 
  1. Interview with Trudy Klein, 2/24/2022. 
  1. Ibid
  1. Interview with Marissa Calzada, 2/25/2022. 
  1. Ibid
  1. Ibid
  1. Interview with Trudy Klein, 2/24/2022. 
  1. Ibid
  1. Interview with Marissa Calzada, 2/25/2022. 
  1. Ibid
  1. Interview with Trudy Klein, 2/24/2022. 
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