When Given A Choice, Pick The Third Thing


By Barbara Sammons


Do you have to have a school room full of children to be a teacher? Do you have to have a job at a hospital to be a nurse? Growing up in Southern California, my school counselor’s advice was that I should be either a teacher or a nurse. Those career goals were not in my plans, I wanted to be an artist. But then, did I really know what was best for me? My supportive parents always said, “you can do anything you set your mind to, except to be an artist.” “You just can’t make a living being an artist” I would hear, over and over again. After a while, I began to believe they were right … or were they?


2014I started preparing note cards for my first day of class. You see, I decided I was going to be a teacher. But, at the young age of 8, my first students were my friends from the neighborhood. I tried to keep order, but all they wanted to do was play. I tried to give them homework, they just laughed. Guess I wasn’t meant to be a teacher, no one listened to me.


The volunteer program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, California, was my first introduction into the world of nursing. After only a few days of visiting patients I asked to be transferred to the kitchen. Could I really be a nurse? Was I that caring a person? At age 15 I didn’t have the maturity to know my true calling, only what a school counselor advised.


Now what do I do? Finish school? Of course. Go to college? Maybe. Travel? Most definitely. Being a gypsy at heart, I knew it was going to be a challenge to keep me in one place for too long. Over the many years of my adult life I found myself drifting from job to job, place to place, college to college, but never focusing on what I really wanted to do with my life. But then, what was it that I really wanted to do? Oh, that’s right, I wanted to be an artist.


Fast forward through a failed marriage, the death of my father, and a second marriage that made me a widow at age 51, I now find myself the caregiver for my mother. Is it now time for me to be that teacher and nurse? No school room and no hospital, but a loving home that I share with my mother and sister. Mom is now 93 and suffers from advanced dementia. When I take her hand and look into her eyes, does she see her youngest daughter or does she see the face of a caring person? When she calls out to me, she calls me “teacher.” When I look into her eyes I see the same loving and caring person that I have known all my life. I hope that is who she sees when she looks at me. But I will never know.


Was I destined to become a teacher or a nurse? In very different ways I have accomplished those goals. But wait, I wanted to be an artist! That fortune teller, so many years ago, told me I would not find my true passion until later in life, and now I have. I am now that artist I always wanted to be. It doesn’t matter that it took me close to my “golden” years to find my true passion. My photography has been exhibited from coast to coast, my drawings have won numerous awards and my writing has been published in various magazines. Have I accomplished all my career goals? Not yet, I’m just getting started.



Barbara Sammons is an award-winning photographer and published writer with over 40 years behind the camera. Her favorite subjects to photograph are Junkyard Cars and Trucks, old buildings and Mother Nature. Barbara currently resides in Candler, North Carolina and is a former professional chef, graphic designer, marketing professional and master gardener. For more information about Barbara Sammons, visit her website at: www.barbarasammons.com.

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker