Tough times reveal tough people

October 17, 2020
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By Delilah McMasters

Mansfield Record

I have an envelope sandwiched between my wallet and a jumble of lipsticks in my purse. I received it this summer, noticed the parrot stamp and return address and stuck it in my purse for later.

The last six months have been unprecedented, a learn-as-we-go historical checkpoint we will all refer back to and movies will be made about someday. Blue-collar workers, medical workers, teachers, truck drivers, have become the heroes of our hearts. I went back to work in May, my job title is Pedo Coordinator and Morale Booster. I know, a lot of people roll their eyes when they ask me what I do, but culture doesn’t just happen in companies, it takes communication and constant involvement.

The women I work with entered the building and sanitized it like our own families were being treated, afterward appointments were made. Nervous staff, nervous parents and guardians, cautious doctors and enough PPE gear to make an ET movie enthusiast freak out. Surprising to all of us, parents brought their kids in as fast as guidelines allowed, and during all of this the dental assistants, hygienist and front desk were constantly rotating out for quarantine due to family members’ exposure or day cares closing. Every day, for three months, (and even now) we worked short staffed, amid worry, amid family members and friends being sick and some dying.

During all of this “Black Lives Matter” came center stage for all of us. One of our offices is in Duncanville, a predominately black community and the community needed us to stand with them, and make their kids feel like “our” kids in a calm neutral setting.

As the summer wore on and kids had been out of school for months, another layer was added. We had kids coming in from all demographics who were experiencing anxiety. These families and their kids had been relying on the school system for tight schedules and discipline. Now parents were home 24/7 with kids, no jobs, no income, and domestic and child abuse was/is clogging the foster system. Kids come in and they are looking for kindness and boundaries and someone to have a voice for them.

In the two pediatric dentist offices I work with there are 23 women, four are doctors. At times during the last six months I’ve had six women out of 18 in one office with a full schedule. The other office had three women running it for a month. No lunches, full PPE gear, a doctor acting as a dental assistant, and they rolled with it like rock stars!

The day I received the card in the mail had been a bad day, I can’t remember why, but I decided to open it when I most needed it. The weeks have passed and the upset parents, the sweet little foster girl with bruises, who grabbed my hand and needed to tell me something, hearing how one woman at work had lost her dad, and her cousin, and then her aunt. Things like this daily, weekly, things I cry on the way home about, yet, I still can’t open this card.

I have witnessed so much giving by the women I work with, it has been a humbling and heartbreaking experience. I see what they and their families are going through and then to see them personally show up every day and keep encouraging each other and all our small patients as they walk through our offices is nothing short of magic!

This envelope has notes written on the back of it, the corners are worn down. A couple of times I’ve brought it out and it’s set on my desk, I put it in my scrub pocket, walk around with it all afternoon, and then it goes back into my purse.  I don’t feel like I have earned it, like I have lived up to everything the women I work with experience daily.

The young lady who sent this card comes from good stock, she’s learned by example and is teaching this to her own little girl. She gives and never expects anything in return. Right as this pandemic was beginning she made the decision to go through with a pregnancy while being a single parent. She’s been working from home, home schooling, making memories and sending out little notes of love and positivity to the women in her life. She’s amazing.

I’ve made a deal with myself: Once I am as brave as the sender of this card and a worthy equal to the women I work with.....okay, so that is never going to happen, so instead, I’m going to open this envelope when the sender’s baby is born with the women I work with and read it to them from her. Why? Because I know with certainty anything this young lady has written in this card is uplifting, full of hope for tomorrow and complimentary of how well life is being handled, and I know the women at work will appreciate every word. We will post it in the break room and read and reread it until we can laugh about working short staffed, sweating through a lab coat, two masks, a face shield, gloves, missing lunch, all because the dentist has become the fun safe place to take your kids to get out of the house during quarantine!

Delilah McMasters is a local resident and the mom of six. Reach her at

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