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Interview: Gail Sobotkin

Updated on September 5, 2016
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In an English course at Villanova University in 1981, Maria interviewed her mom, who likened her to Barbara Walters. She never looked back.


Meeting Gail

Gail Sobotkin, aka Happyboomernurse, is a glue stick in our hub community. She is supportive, compassionate and as nurturing as any nurse I have ever worked with ....

Oh wait, Gail is a nurse! And she also happens to be a passionate and multi-dimensional writer and an amazingly inspirational photographer.

To me, my friend, HBN, is solid evidence that one can be equally right and left brain focused in skills, abilities and sheer talent.

Please join me in this interview with Gail, which is just as thoughtful and meaningful as the lady herself:

Winter Sunset at Hilton Head Island
Winter Sunset at Hilton Head Island | Source
Lewes, Delaware in Springtime (one of Gail's favorite DE beach towns)
Lewes, Delaware in Springtime (one of Gail's favorite DE beach towns) | Source

The times I feel most relaxed are ....

after a foot massage from my husband. The man has magical fingers and hands.

The times I feel saddest are...

when someone I love is very ill and/or dying.

Something I'd like to teach others...

that retaining and cultivating a child-like joy and sense of wonder is possible and highly desirable no matter how old you get or how many adult issues and challenges you're faced with.

My secret passion.....

dancing on an empty stretch of beach. It's amazing how uninhibited and freely I can move when I think no one is looking and I have the rhythm and sounds of the ocean to dance with.

My dream job....

retirement because I get to choose what I want to "work" on and still have a steady, though modest, income.

Most hated gift I ever gave someone....

I gave a beautifully illustrated, modern version of "Jack in the Beanstalk" to a 4 year old boy whose name was Jack when I went to visit his grandparents. He excitedly tore off the gift wrap but his little face scrunched up in disappointment and disgust as he declared. "That's not a toy! What kind of gift is this????" His Grandma handled the situation beautifully and got him involved in the story by focusing on the name Jack, as she started to read it. LOL

The gift I could have done without....

a pair of diamond earrings that my husband gave me at my 40th birthday party. Household money was extremely tight and after the party I said, "But we can't afford this.." He raised his hand to silence me and answered, "Yes we can. I made some sacrifices (sold some of his own treasured things) so I could get them for you and I don't want to hear another word of protest. Just enjoy them."

What a sweetheart... talk about Gift of the Magi...!

If you peaked in my junk drawer you'd be surprised to find....

a small pack of Peanuts (Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy) characters tissues. I had no idea they were in there until I opened the junk drawer to answer this question. The item is strange because I'm 60 years old and don't have any grandchildren.

My date from Hades....

when I was 16, a 17 year old boy from my church asked me out on a movie date. He proudly picked me up in his mother's brand new car and after driving just a few miles we got involved in a fender bender. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the poor boy was devastated and terrified of facing his mother. He begged me to go back to his house because, "Mom thinks the world of you and will believe you if you tell her it wasn't my fault." It truly wasn't his fault so of course I went home with him. Fortunately, his Mom took the news about the car fairly well, but I still felt bad for both Mother and son.

My worst/ or funniest vacation story....

My then divorced sister sometimes went on vacation with us when my son was young. On one trip to the Jersey Shore we went directly to the beach and a few minutes later Sis started complaining that her eyes were burning and that she thought she got suntan lotion in them. We tried to rinse her eyes with drinking water but they still hurt so my husband drove her to an urgi-care center while I stayed with our son. They were gone quite awhile and upon returning my husband walked onto the beach himself.

"Where's Jeanne?"

"She's in the car but can't walk out here."

"Why not?"

"Come see for yourself. Now, she's gonna be alright but...." We'd reached the car then, and I saw Jeanne leaning back in the front passenger seat, both eyes and the top of her head covered with thick bandages. The good news was that the doctor didn't expect any
permanent damage to her eyes. The bad news was that she needed the bandages changed 3 times a day so that her eyes could be flushed with a special solution and treated with drops. I was glad she was okay and took care of her, but I was a homecare nurse at the time and changing dressings and helping Sis with activities of daily living and walking, wasn't exactly my idea of vacation! We laugh about it now but back then it wasn't funny for either of us.

Oh Gail, can we ever leave our Nurse's cap at home ...(LOL)?

Fred and Gail
Fred and Gail | Source

A life goal on my bucket list ....

go up in a hot air balloon with my husband.

What I look most for in a friend....

a sense of humor, honesty and trustworthiness.

Something I will never part with....

my husband, unless it's the kind of parting talked about in the marriage vows.

Butterfly Landing on Flower
Butterfly Landing on Flower | Source

A life lesson I will never forget ....

that forgiveness can be one of the highest expressions of love. My brother was an alcoholic and was estranged from his teenaged daughter due to issues related to his alcoholism. He was hospitalized with terminal alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver and we notified his daughter, who was then 18 years old and hadn't seen him in 5 years. We did not expect her to come but felt she had the right to be notified that he was dying. She not only came for a single visit, but returned every day for the next few days and was holding his hand when the end came and gently rubbing his forehead with her other hand as he passed peacefully over to the other side. It taught me that as long as there's still life, it's never too late for meaningful reconciliation.

Worst part of getting older....

watching friends and loved ones get sick and die.

A writing lesson I learned the hard way...

Never write down anything you'd be embarassed to have someone else read. When I was 17, I wrote a passionate love letter (alright, I'll admit it was a bit torrid) to my boyfriend, decided it was too hot to actually give to him and after tearing it up into pieces (there were no shredders then) I threw it in my bedroom waste basket. Mom later retrieved it and pieced it back together- something I considered a grave violation of my privacy, but that she considered her parental right. Nowadays I use a shredder if I decide something I've written should never be seen by anyone else.

My favorite movie and why...

"Gone With the Wind." I wanted to be just like Scarlet O'Hara- beautiful, tiny waisted, driving all the young men crazy with desire, passionate and wildly romantic and impulsive. Alas, I was, in fact, more like Melanie, who was known more for her good-hearted, kind, gentle and loving nature rather than femme fatale qualities. LOL

OMG, Gail... you and me both...!! Nurses...?!

What subjects, genres do you enjoy reading about....

For pure pleasure I love romance novels of the type written by my favorite author, Nicholas Sparks. His, "The Notebook" is my favorite contemporary romance novel.

What would be a subject/ genre that you would like to read more about....

I love to read inspirational non-fiction such as The Chicken Soup for the Soul books, or the series you're currently writing about your mother.

Gail, thank you... that means the world.

What song makes you want to pack and leave the party....

"Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. I think it's the most
romantic song, ever and it always makes me want to get home and spend
private time with hubby.

Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody

Thank you, Gail....

Gail, I wanted to select a Supremes song that showed the love you feel for your man, and I think I did just that in the classic tune: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You".

Thank you so very much for adding your special warmth to this interview series. As you, my dear friend, would say ....

"Sending a bouquet of Hub Hugs", Maria

© Maria Jordan (revised July, 2016)

"Can't Take my Eyes off of You"


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