Alayne

Hi, I’m Alayne and I’m 80 years old. As a child I lived with my parents, brother, and grandmother in Newburgh, NY. When I think back about religion, we had four Catholic churches in Newburgh. Our Catholic Church was Saint Francis, and it was a Polish church. In my grammar school, that was the church that everybody went to if they were Catholic. It was our neighborhood church.

When I got to junior high and high school, I met people from other churches and learned about other religions. I can’t remember not believing in God. It was part of my life. We went to church every Sunday. We sat in the same seat, and the same people sat around us. My German grandmother was the leader of the family.

Most of my religious upbringing was very good, very good. I went to Catholic CCD (Christian Education) class one evening a week, and I did my communion and my confirmation. I never really understood religion. I believed in God, but I would always ask questions. I would ask the nuns questions. I didn’t understand it, and they wouldn’t let me ask questions. I was just supposed to believe and that bothered me.

I only have a very bad experience with religion and it was because of one of my relatives. He was driving me to confession and sexually molested me on the way there. I couldn’t tell my family the first time. The second time it happened, I told my parents. The fellow was barred from our house. I don’t know what my parents said to him, but I’m so glad that was my only bad experience with religion. When I was much older I asked my mother, “Did that really happen?” And she said, “Yes.”

When I was in high school, we took these aptitude tests. I would come up as a caring person and I was supposed to go into nursing.

I also felt that I had to go into nursing because my mother, who wanted to become a nurse, was too young when she graduated from high school. She was became a secretary; so I think I was always supposed to take on this role that my mother couldn’t.

I went into nursing school when I was age 17 and graduated when I was 19. I went to New York City to work as a nurse. I had the most wonderful career as a nurse. I worked three years at Columbia Presbyterian, which was the ultimate place to learn and gain clinical experience. I worked there when I got married, and then when I got pregnant I had to give up working.

When I had kids my husband, who was a policeman, did not go to church with me. I had these two little kids. We didn’t have child rooms at those times, and I didn’t bring toys for the kids to play with. So, I’d be shushing the kids. I ended up giving up religion only because I didn’t want the kids in church with me. I was kind of moving away from religion at the time. I would go at Christmas and Easter.

When my son was almost a year old, my husband found me a part time job as an office nurse. Then I worked in OBGYN maternity, and at Med Surg in Rockland County. Then I went to get my bachelor’s degree in the County’s the first RN-BSN program. After earning my BSN I got a grant from the federal government to go for my master’s degree full time. I majored in adult care with a minor in nursing education.

After 15 years of nursing I went into nursing education and just loved it. But when I was going for my master’s, there was a federal grant for Hospice nursing. That was one of the best times in my life in my nursing career. I really felt that I could utilize my caring with patients and their families.

I think the closest that I came to God in my nursing career was working with Hospice patients and families. When I was doing death and dying care Hospice in the late 1980s, the concept of going through stages of dying was new to me. My goal was to was help people go through all the steps.

The last step is acceptance. I think that’s when the patient is the closest to God. I found that they did accept death when they were ready. The Hospice experience has been very fulfilling and is helping me plan for the last stages of my life, too.

A few years ago my friends Barbara and Pat moved to Delaware. I visited them every couple of months and went to church with them. I always went with Barbara on the church trips. I also went to concerts at her church and Chili bake offs, and I did a lot with her church. Recently, I attended a Sharing Faith Women’s Retreat and was grateful for the experience.

One of the things I don’t like about the Catholic Church is that you go to mass and that’s it. There’s no fellowship. There’s no talking to other people. I felt that part was missing from religion. I find the fellowship in the Presbyterian Church is a positive and important part of religion.

When I moved here a year ago I found that the New Covenant Church really helped me with my transition. I like the people in the church and it’s fun. I’ve joined a weekly educational group in which I am learning a lot about the Bible. I am also able to ask questions and I am getting answers. This new understanding of religion is helping me feel closer to God. My religion right now is making up my mind to join the Presbyterian Church, but I haven’t made that decision yet.

Today, that’s kind of where I am. I’m still getting my feet on the ground in Delaware and my new church. I’m enjoying this religious experience so very much.

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