They're closing the place where Mike Friedberg met his wife. It makes him a little sad.
Mike's a nurse. So's his wife, Carole. They work at Jewish Hospital on Avondale's Pill Hill. They met there four years ago at a nursing symposium.
He impressed her with the intelligent way he asked questions. Her wide, cheery blue eyes did him in.
After dating for two years, they were married in 1995. Now they're a live-in car pool driving back and forth from home to the jobs they love.
The life they lead together is dramatic and normal at the same time.
"Come to lunch in our little corner of the world, and you'll find we have a lot of happiness to share," Carole said in her request for "Lunch with Cliff." That's where I treat and people tell me what's going on in their lives.
Mike is a surgical nurse. Carole cares for cancer patients. Seven floors separate them at the hospital. Distance and the demands of caring for the sick mean they seldom see each other during their 3 to 11:30 p.m. shift.
So, Mike and Carole always make sure they eat lunch together. It's where they do the little things that show their love for each other.
The day I joined them for lunch at Max & Erma's in Kenwood she patted his knee reassuringly as he spoke, something I took to be an affectionate habit. He looked into her eyes and melted. They kissed often. All of this went toward charging their batteries for the long night ahead.
"I'm the talker in the family," Carole confides.
He nods a lot.
"We don't have anything monumental going on in our life," Carole adds.
The Friedbergs are given to understatement. They have a monumental move coming up in their work lives. In November, Jewish Hospital will close its Avondale facility, and 147 years of history, service and care will come to an end.
Carole and Mike have jobs. They'll move to the Jewish Hospital in Kenwood, a 10-minute walk from their house.
While Mike is looking forward to walking instead of driving to work, he hates to see a break in tradition. Founded in 1850, the Jewish Hospital in Avondale is the oldest hospital of its kind in the nation.
He says he feels "in mourning" when he thinks about the closing of a place where he asked a question and found a wife.
Mike and Carole insist they are not obsessed with the move. They don't even talk that much about it at lunch.
"The move is a big thing," Carole admits. "But that's not who we are."
In her mind, Mr. and Mrs. Friedberg are "happy. We have good friends, good family and we love our jobs."
She reaches out to Mike and touches his shoulder. "We get letters at home from patients Mike's taken care of. People stop him on the street, give him hugs and say, 'Thanks for taking such good care of my mom.' "
Mike looks down at his soup. Carole goes on, glossing over her love of nursing. "I go to work with a goal of helping somebody out at least once a day," she says. "I make sure I always go home with a sense of satisfaction."
She swears she leaves her work at the hospital as she drives home with Mike.
Her husband smiles and prods her to mention her weekend phone calls.
It's a little story. But, for me, it defines the term "nursing care," in the best possible terms.
On her off days, Carole Friedberg calls the hospital to check on her patients' white blood cell counts. When they're up, she's up. "I can't help myself," she says. "To me, they're not just patients. They're people you care about."
Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.