Diana Martinez-Bleth and Valerie Bleth

Recorded February 7, 2020 Archived March 7, 2020 40:36 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: lsk002310


Valerie Bleth-Sharp (51) interviews her mother Diana Martinez-Bleth (79) about her life's work as a nurse, her accomplishments, passions and loves.


  • Diana Martinez-Bleth
  • Valerie Bleth

Venue / Recording Kit



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00:00 So I can start anytime now honey. Want to stop at the store will take a break right now? Okay, my name is Diana Martinez, hyphenated Bowl left.

00:16 I'm 79 years old.

00:19 Today's date is February 7th.

00:23 2020

00:27 I live in in Santa Rosa Oakmont area.

00:38 My I am the mother, too.

00:43 Valerie

00:46 My name is Valerie sharp Mallory bless sharp. I'm age 51. Today's date is February 7th 2020. We're at my parents home in Santa Rosa Oakmont area of Santa Rosa and I am the daughter of Diana my baby. I'm the baby the fourth the fourth child of Diana.

01:14 So I guess I'm just going to start by. I'm going to just start by asking you a couple of questions.

01:25 And that and then we'll just kind of let it flow. However, we want it to flow. Okay. So how would you describe yourself? What are a couple of words in which you would describe yourself?

01:47 How would I describe myself?

01:56 Tenacious

02:02 And

02:05 Compassionate

02:11 Yeah, I've been a witness to I've been a witness to those things for sure loving.

02:22 What what is the greatest gift that you've been given?

02:30 My faith

02:33 01

02:37 My husband

02:39 Four children and nine grandchildren

02:43 Those are the best wonderful gifts.

02:47 And in terms of what gift I have.

02:58 I always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl.

03:03 So, I mean I was given the gift of being able to do that.

03:12 And

03:14 Become a nurse.

03:17 And oncology

03:22 Executive director for a hospice

03:26 And

03:27 Also had my own business in geriatric Care Management for 21 years.

03:37 I loved every bit of

03:42 I loved every bit of it.

03:45 It was like

03:47 It was my gift and I was grateful it wasn't easy.

03:53 Yeah, it wasn't an easy rub but

03:58 But

04:02 People say

04:04 That hospice people are special.

04:09 I don't necessarily.

04:12 I think everybody is special.

04:15 We all have our special things about our humanness.

04:25 And so I always thought it was an honor to do the work.

04:36 To be in

04:39 Present in the presence

04:43 And stay in the present.

04:47 Of all of these

04:51 Amazing people who are my teachers

04:58 Cuz we're all students and we're all teachers.

05:04 So

05:06 I was very grateful everyday.

05:17 You've you chose a profession where?

05:24 You had to

05:27 Navigate the emotional storms of people that were in grief and people that were grieving not only the people they loved but

05:37 Theron lives how did you find the courage every day to present?

05:48 And through the Colorado area of all of the

05:53 People on the on the

06:01 Ways to have fun, too.

06:05 I remember.

06:08 What incident when we lost?

06:13 On Sunday, we lost five people all of pretty one after the other at the hospital.

06:23 And

06:25 I said to a couple of nurses.

06:29 How would you like to go up and see the babies?

06:34 I said

06:36 We

06:39 Need to fortify ourselves with knowing that life.

06:44 Continuous no matter what?

06:49 So that was

06:52 That was a little.

06:56 Something that we did and we had

07:01 We were really close close pretty close-knit group.

07:08 We were the first oncology.

07:13 St-agnes

07:15 You nut.

07:18 Hey, man, is it in Fresno? St. Agnes in Fresno, California? And we?

07:29 Take care of all of the

07:36 Military makes they stay there a while with us. So we got to really know them until

07:46 That kind of changed.

07:49 And a lot of a

07:55 Doctors opened up their own clinics

07:58 But we enjoy them and people didn't feel like

08:04 They were put a side.

08:07 Because they were dying.

08:10 And that nobody would pay attention to

08:14 They felt I think the patients.

08:18 Really appreciated

08:25 The

08:28 Care

08:30 And I'm passionate always men and women's showed on that unit.

08:43 How do you have the fortitude to sit in people's with people in their most vulnerable state? How do you keep showing up cuz you stay present?

08:58 Is stay present?

09:03 In the in West you what who you are and what that person.

09:11 Is asking you.

09:15 You know it took a while.

09:18 For me

09:23 Because one of the big things in caregiving is permission.

09:30 To do anything for them?

09:34 And to be

09:36 Gentle

09:38 About it

09:41 I learned that on that unit.

09:45 Cuz sometimes we think we know the right thing.

09:51 And I wasn't always right.

09:55 So I had to learn.

10:00 Permission giving

10:03 Because it's really

10:07 This was in the eighties, you know.

10:13 We came out of a

10:15 Pretty turbulent times in the seventies and

10:21 So

10:26 But

10:29 Also, I was raised by an authoritative family. So

10:34 I was kind of bossy.

10:39 Yeah, well there bossiness has has led our family sometimes and it's been it's been a it's been a pleasure to be led. Sometimes when we needed to be loud. Sometimes it's important but

10:59 You have to mitigate it with.

11:03 Kindness, well, you have a you have a legacy of kindness mama.

11:15 Ever since I came home.

11:17 From the hospital in May

11:21 And we shared

11:25 What we thought

11:27 The doctor wanted us to know with our family.

11:35 I have had.

11:43 I've had so many people.

11:47 That have come.

11:50 I don't think there's been a week since last May that we haven't had somebody come and visit you all over.

12:01 United States overwhelmed

12:11 By the fact that people

12:15 Wanted to be here with me and this time of my life.

12:22 Kind of strange

12:25 You know for

12:30 Oncology nurse

12:33 Hospice nurse

12:36 To be taking all of this in for herself.

12:40 That's a

12:44 I say to my friend.

12:49 I say I can't believe that you're having to do this for me.

12:55 You know because that wasn't

12:59 Kind of a plan, you know.

13:03 And what's that? What is your friend's response though? They love me and they always said do it any I do you I love you and I do anything for you.

13:18 They would and they have you know, they brought food flowers orchids all I got to like the old helicopters always there for us they fly and they fly out.

13:37 Down to Southern California my two daughters Valerie and Adrian, you know Christine.

13:47 Our oldest daughter and our son Eric live in Novato. And so they're not very far away. So they

13:58 They Trail an with

14:01 With my grandkids and my daughter-in-law is like my my own kid. She she I couldn't ask for a better.

14:11 Leslie Auto in the last way. Yeah, it is wonderful. And then you have all my son in laws.

14:24 Eric my son and Thomas and then all of my grandchildren there so

14:33 Kind

14:35 And there'll be here. Some of them will be here on Saturday to celebrate their uncle's birthday and Zoe's.

14:46 Going to London.

14:49 So we we know how to celebrate Don't Wake Me Up. You've taught me about so you taught us all about celebration about setting a beautiful table.

14:59 About about how that's much more than just setting a table.

15:06 That's bringing in Beauty at Spring being immersed in Beauty.

15:11 And and fellowship

15:19 Very grateful very grateful for

15:24 All of the

15:29 Celebrations that we've had

15:33 You know, my kids have just been.

15:38 They take their resources they take their energy.

15:44 And that always show up.

15:51 I have so many.

15:54 Close friends

15:58 Who don't have that?

16:01 Kind of relationship with their families and I pray for them.

16:09 Mommy cuz you've always shown up for us.

16:17 That was

16:19 But I wanted to do even when it was hard for you.

16:27 Hard for Dad

16:34 Where is the track down South Valerie? Call me?

16:40 Well, I just wanted to hear your voice. I'm going in to have a C-section right now. My baby's coming Savannah and so are we?

16:55 Play hippity hoppity right down to the we were usually there but for some reason she was early she was early she was scheduled, but she wanted to come early. Yeah, and so she

17:12 So we got there on.

17:15 She was born and you were okay, but I just

17:21 Took my

17:24 Heart to hear your voice saying mama. I'm going into surgery right now, and I want to hear your voice.

17:35 I still want to hear your voice or the way. It's been for all of us. I still want to hear your voice.

17:43 And through this process it's been hard.

17:47 My voice not to hear your voice not to be able to well. I have an altered voice really right now with no you just been haven't had the energy to talk on the phone.

18:05 Or text thank God the texting, you know, we have texting.

18:12 And I was not going to be left behind. No not was those grandchildren man.

18:21 I tried to call him a couple times. I didn't hear from I said, okay. I know it was you guys want so I don't care about the Toyota Earth all of other messages they can have that stuff but the texting

18:43 We have gotten

18:47 To be quiet

18:49 Papa's are gay keeper.

18:52 Yes, and people bring wonderful food and helps George so he doesn't have to cook even though he's a great cook is kind of

19:07 Taking a little Hiatus while everybody brings all this food.

19:12 And then I have to go over and inspect the refrigerator make sure that the refrigerator is moving along and I have to say papa, you know, George don't.

19:32 Don't buy too many groceries. These kids are coming this weekend, and they

19:39 They come in with oh my gosh.

19:43 I can't keep up with her. They make the food leave it and we have it for the week and yum yum Papa made a really nice chili bean for Super Bowl Sunday being married to our dad.

20:05 I love him.

20:08 How's your favorite thing?

20:11 And just see him grow.

20:14 Over the years

20:17 Watch his evolutionary process his all his

20:26 Tough times

20:29 I've always been proud of him.

20:33 She was she's my

20:36 Is my rock

20:38 Publix my rock. He's had to learn how to talk on the phone since you haven't been talking on the phone. So we're getting our getting time on the phone. You tell him he ever got on the phone more than 5 minutes come a long way with that.

21:09 He's a great guy. I see everybody. What else has he done for you everyday? Oh my gosh, since we were little what did he do for you? Everything?

21:23 Wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes and rains a wheelchair over.

21:31 And helps me to the ladies room about your tea in the morning. Oh, yeah.

21:42 All those years in Fresno many years. I don't know when it started When We Were Young. Yeah. Yeah. We were a little older maybe yeah.

22:00 He went off to work. He was the health director for the County of Fresno. And so he would make me a cup of tea bring it up and we would visit.

22:13 There's one more thing and I'll tell you in a minute.

22:17 But

22:19 He is to get all dressed up because you know you had to wear suits and he was a Esquire man. Yeah, I said to him.

22:35 Honey, I don't know if I'm going to let you out over there. You look too good. I don't know.

22:46 Yeah, he looks so handsome anyway.

22:53 When we both were retired or short well, no, I wasn't really retired till I came to Fresno to Santa run into Santa Rosa.

23:03 I was 76 years old I retired from my business.

23:10 And so I

23:13 I

23:15 He would come bring his coffee bring me tea and then I would go into Valerie's old room and I wish I had my vanity bench and he was there when I put my makeup on and listen, we would have our morning.

23:34 Time. Those are the special things company. Yeah. I really enjoy the

23:46 Cuz

23:49 It was our time.

23:54 I wanted to ask you about your capacity for kindness because you've always had a tremendous capacity for kindness and been an example of that for us, you know, our whole lives. So even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.

24:13 You know, you always chose kindness.

24:20 That's very kind of you to say so funny, but I

24:27 I had a lot of rough moma's but I'll tell you.

24:33 The capacity for kindness comes out of gratitude

24:38 I believe.

24:42 Hey cuz

24:45 If you're grateful for each day, and whatever comes your way, it's easy to be kind and generous.

24:56 Generous is something I feel like.

25:02 I like doing I like generosity.

25:08 Whether it's a

25:10 Sharing something a scarf

25:15 Giving I guess calling a person.

25:19 Checking on someone praying for

25:23 Praying for

25:26 A friend's granddaughter

25:31 This something

25:34 I do and I was fortunate my mom taught me a lot of that too.

25:42 My dad

25:46 Heather pretty extraordinary

25:53 We talked a little bit about your you've dedicated your life to to giving into nurturing into nursing. Is there a moment in time or an inspiration that set you on that path?

26:13 I always

26:15 Since I was a little girl felt responsible for doing things.

26:22 I took care of my mom. My mother was not well at one point and I took care of her and I guess it was in that.

26:37 In those moments you just kind of

26:42 What is natural in high school? I?

26:51 What is the president of the future nurses Club?

26:56 At Lowell High School in San Francisco and

27:01 That gave me.

27:04 This woman who came to talk with us was this is really lovely nurse.

27:10 She worked at Saint Mary's and we had her as a speaker. And then after I was walking her out.

27:20 Of the high school thanking her fur.

27:24 Being our speaker and she said

27:28 You don't have to worry Diana. You'll be a good nurse and I think you know that.

27:36 Somebody other than your family

27:41 That says that and especially a nurse who says you'll be good. You'll be good at it. And so don't worry.

27:53 But

27:55 My father didn't think I was

28:00 Should go into nursing.

28:03 So I didn't do that right away.

28:09 We had sort of a secure it is secure it's a little pal my husband and I your dad your dad and you know, that sort of is one of those 27 graduated 31 with for kids.

28:39 I went back to college.

28:42 At 35 and graduated at 39

28:47 As a registered nurse and I helped you study are so grateful for the nun cuz I worked up at the convent. Yeah.

29:01 I worked at the convent at Mission San Jose for the Holy Family sisters and they were

29:15 They were my catechism teachers in San Francisco. They used to come over from Mission San Jose where the they have the monastery there and they teaches catechism.

29:34 That same Peters.

29:36 In San Francisco

29:39 But

29:42 I ended up.

29:45 Working for them as a

29:50 CNA, you know kinda taking care of the it was a beautiful model of nursing the way that they took care of those nuns the way we took care of them, you know the food Eye Care.

30:07 The gentleness the entertainment just

30:13 Who is a very loving?

30:16 And Sister, Jude

30:20 Let me have a room downstairs cuz she knew I had the for kids.

30:27 So she let me have the room on Saturdays to study.

30:33 Why nursing

30:36 I will never forget. I always appreciated her.

30:41 I thought mrs. Trainer also was instrumental in supporting your yeah. She encouraged me to go back to go to the back to school. She was in 07 days and was a teacher graduated from Wesley in West Virginia.

31:00 She was my neighbor in Fresno.

31:04 She was wonderful.

31:06 The fast forward when we were working at St. Agnes. I met Nancy Nancy Hines.

31:18 Did The Conch she wrote the rags for the conglomerate living arrangements so that we could have a hospice a stand-alone hospice for 6 patients?

31:37 We

31:39 Started that and she started in the 80s.

31:44 And it took off in the 90s now she owns them.

31:49 Huge building in Fresno and has

31:55 Outreach

31:57 She is Angel. She seems to be like one of your heroes in real life heroes in real life.

32:11 In your realize my family my honey.

32:16 Oh, yeah.

32:20 I had a hero his name with.

32:26 He

32:29 He was I'm sorry. He was the

32:36 The head

32:43 I'm getting

32:45 Okay, it's alright. I want to tell you this.

32:50 Crying cop

32:53 He was my hero.

32:57 Because

32:59 He didn't stick his head in the sand when we were trying to work out something for the AIDS patients in the 80s. He distributed all kinds of literature and fought.

33:15 Reagan

33:19 To get care for the AIDS patients

33:25 Georges Georges group from the health department. They were amazing. They

33:35 They set up a whole unit to take care of the AIDS patients at home.

33:45 That meant to ask you some more questions. Okay. I'm going to just check something real quick. Okay.

34:08 What happens is that I didn't put it on you. Don't put it on do not disturb when somebody calls it stops everything.

34:50 So we have five minutes. I'm just going to ask you a few questions. Okay, okay.

34:57 What other profession would you like to have had?

35:07 I need a doctor.

35:10 What is that? What is your life's motto a doctor and an anthropologist? What is your life's motto? My loves model motto Amato. Yeah, we have we have 5 minutes. I just want to get some questions.

35:33 Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you would be my you know, and

35:45 St. Peter's Church, they have this little

35:52 Arch and on the arch was this song

35:58 And the song said Lord, I have loved the beauty of thy house and my place where they could do Alice and you know what?

36:12 I find out all over the world as we travelled we traveled a lot.

36:19 When's the Nepal Tibet?

36:23 Waist climb to whatever we did in Machu Picchu we did.

36:30 We did a lot of wonderful Paris Rome Spain Italy Italy. It was a blast.

36:41 How would you like to be remembered?

36:48 That's a big one.

36:53 I'd like to be remembered.

36:59 Other Woman

37:03 Who is willing?

37:09 Go to the

37:13 Wall

37:15 Unfaithful

37:19 You've definitely done that Mama. You've done it for me and you've done it for all of us.

37:26 And you've helped us.

37:30 Through this process

37:32 A brief I hope so, honey.

37:36 You know.

37:38 Is quite interesting being a geriatric care manager taking care of yourself, you know, cuz I've been

37:50 Yes. Yes, we know how would you like to die?

37:57 Right here.

37:59 Where is everybody?

38:03 Present

38:05 And when you reach the Pearly Gates of Heaven with would you like to hear God say?

38:12 Well done.

38:15 Good and faithful servant.

38:21 I don't think you're having a problem with that one.

38:29 Thank you. I remember my mom when you ask her that question.

38:41 God bless that was funny. I think she said she's definitely in oh my gosh. Thank you. I mean gratitude for having you as my Mom. Thank you. Thank you for being my beautiful daughter and so loyal kind and talented. Oh my God, you are so amazingly talented. I love you Mama. I love you, darling. I love you Valerie.

39:15 My baby always.

39:19 And I'm here to represent all of your children and grandchildren.

39:24 To tell you how much I love you.

39:27 And Eric and Adrian

39:33 Could you have better children now and not a bit Yeah, but I will tell you.

39:43 I'm grateful for these last two weeks.

39:47 You know that I've been able to

39:53 Kind of Turner corner, cuz I didn't think I'd make it through the holidays. I know but when I came through after New Year's I said to myself.

40:05 I guess I'm going to live for now. So that's what I'm doing every day.

40:12 Just keep smiling.

40:15 As

40:17 Gracious as I can do that.

40:21 Because I pray for grace all the time.

40:26 Thank you.

40:28 Thank you, Mama.

40:30 Q

40:32 Is that okay?