Friends from birth: Two nurses, families, share special kinship

September 2015 Posted in People
Retired Lt. Col Pat Brennan, USAF, left, helped Henrietta Dill deliver her  daughter, Traci Dill Buller.

Retired Lt. Col Pat Brennan, USAF, left, helped Henrietta Dill deliver her daughter, Traci Dill Buller.

By Kristine Thomas

Given her parents’ successful professions, Traci Dill Buller could have chosen a military career like her father, Ernie Dill, or become a business woman like her mother, Henrietta Dill.

Instead, she became an obstetrics nurse.

And her mother credits retired Lt. Col Pat Brennan, USAF, for her daughter’s chosen profession.

On a sunny August afternoon, Traci, along with her three sons, parents and other guests, welcomed Pat and her husband, retired Lt. Col. John Brennan, USAF, at The Glockenspiel in Mount Angel for lunch.

Henrietta said during her husband’s 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, 1964 to 1984, “one makes friends that soon become family.”

And for the Dills, the Brennan’s have become just that. Even though the Brennans live in Florida and the Dills live in Mount Angel, it was clear neither distance nor time have hindered the comfortable flow of conversation and the ease of their friendship.

Henrietta said her husband was stationed at Tachikawa Air Force Base in Japan when she was expecting her fourth child in 1972.

“When Henrietta came into the hospital, we had lost all power due to a storm,” Pat recalled. “She was in full labor and there was only myself and another nurse on-call. We only had candles, there weren’t any doctors on-site and Henrietta didn’t waste any time delivering Traci.”

Traci was born on May 2, 1972. And for the next 43 years, her mother and her delivery nurse remained friends, writing letters and cards to one another during the holidays and other occasions. When Henrietta learned Pat was in Portland for the Air Force Retired Nurses Association conference, she made sure to arrange a luncheon.

“The last time I saw Traci was in 2000,” Pat said.

The way Pat, Traci and Henrietta laughed and chatted, it would seem like the friends met just yesterday for a meal.

Henrietta recalled how Traci, like all her children, was born a few weeks early. And when Traci had some trouble breathing, Pat helped her out by “breathing on her.”

Which leads us back to why Henrietta firmly believes her daughter became a nurse.

“Pat always teased me that when she delivered Traci that she breathed on her and said to her ‘You will be a nurse one day. Not only will you be a nurse, but you will be an OB nurse. You will not only be involved in the hospital but need to be active in community affairs’,” Henrietta said.

As Traci and Pat sat across from each at lunch, they shared stories of working in the delivery room. Traci is amazed she was delivered without electricity, especially when hospitals now have generators.

She has been a nurse at the Silverton Hospital Birthing Center for 15 years. She also holds a position on Willamette Valley ESD board of directors, is an adjunct professor at local nursing colleges and is working on her master’s degree.

While many things about their profession has changed, Traci and Pat joked some things remain the same – more babies are born when there is a full moon or a storm.

Traci was surprised to hear one story about her birth.

“When I was in labor with Traci,” Henrietta said, “Pat told my husband Ernie, ‘You must be so worn out, come to the nurses’ station with me and we will have a cigarette.’ ”

That’s something that would never happen nowadays, Traci said.

Before the Dills left the hospital, the nurses invited Ernie to join their bowling league and come to their parties.

Henrietta and Pat recalled how they knew one another from attending the base chapel. It was the birth of Traci, however, that lead to their friendship blossoming.

“It’s really weird to think of how they became friends,” Traci said. “It makes me think of all the children I have delivered and their moms. It’s especially weird to think Pat was the age I am now when she delivered me.”

Pat, now 70, said Henrietta is the only mom she has kept in touch with, adding she delivered six babies without the help of a doctors during her career.

“I think there’s a bond that forms between a mother and the person who delivers her child,” Traci said.

All three women understand that when path’s cross a priceless moment is made. And that one person can make a difference in someone’s life.

“I think it’s amazing my mom and Pat are still friends,” Traci said. “I think Pat and I have an automatic respect for one another because we have shared experiences of delivering babies. I think Pat’s a little more like MacGyver because she faced some challenges delivering babies before all the technology we have today. Especially me.”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.