Portrait Liz Baxter


Liz Baxter. My, my mother, a descendant of African slaves bought by the Danes, uh, brought to the Caribbean, uh, my father's white and from the French islands. And therefore from France through the French islands, both my parents are, uh, born in St. Thomas in the Virgin islands. And they had their first four kids in St. Thomas and then moved to the Bronx about a year before I was born. Their origin story is more important to me than the journey that I've been on. You know, from when you come from a large family, there's a lot of grief and pain, but we also had a lot of joy and, uh, Yeah, I think if I could live like my father and my mother lived to an old age as well, they both, they both were just very, very healthy, um, until they passed. And, uh, I don't know how they did it. I mean, I, I hope that I can do as well as they did, but they were pretty amazing. I live in Bellingham, Washington have been here for, uh, this June will be five years. I turned 65 in 2020. I don't feel old except when I'm around my sons. Um, but you know, when I think of what I saw as 65, uh, certainly it was retired. Um, it was much more physically frail, at least in my mind. 40 years ago, then what I see today, uh, I've I've always been somehow connected to the healthcare system. I'm not a clinician. And so, you know, in, in Portland, I worked at, uh, good Samaritan hospital in Portland. I w I worked there for 12 years and never was part of the clinical system. So it was always how do you bridge. Where people live with how they intersect with the healthcare system. I just, I don't think that the healthcare system is yet very good at taking care of people unless they're sick. And, and so since I haven't been sick, I don't feel a very strong relationship with the healthcare. The things that fill me up, my kids like grandson and, uh, the rest of my family. If I stay connected to them, I am a happy girl. I think I, I didn't pay as much attention to that explicitly when I was really busy, they frustrate the heck out of me sometimes what they bring me through. I have my oldest son who this year turned to 40, uh, is mine by birth. And then my partner, Nancy and I have been together for, I really say 35 ish years. And so she and I, um, adopted two boys from Oregon's foster care system. Uh, we were the first. Same sex. Couple to be allowed to adopt in the state of Oregon. My grandson turned 13 in December. The thing that COVID made me miss Ian got braces and, and I felt a loss at that. Unlike any of the other things that I admitted. The 16th marked three years for my dad passing. And my mom passed 10 years earlier. And with my mom is I feel her loss every time, something profoundly agonizing occurs. I'm picking up the phone to call my mom because she was my go-to phone call. With my dad, it was to like, hear him say everything gets better in time. I just want to be like, God, I need somebody to just say that to me now. Um, I, I don't at the time I was devastated. It's it's the ability to keep them in your life and in your consciousness. And, you know, even this, I mean, like, I love talking about my parents and for me, it keeps them here. It keeps them here in the present. And that has been, at least when I think of personal loss, that's been really a great value. My mom would say, like, you know, every morning you wake up and you say, I'm going to do the best I can do today. And at the end of the day, you go to sleep going, man, I did the best I can do. I hope I do better tomorrow. I wish as a younger person that somebody had said, it's okay to let imperfect formed formative thoughts come out. I am just on the lookout for like, who's going to take my place. Um, what can I do to get them ready to step into the kinds of roles that I've been in? And that's really exciting to me. I feel like, you know, you're in walkin county, lots of pretty amazing young leaders who need more opportunities to see. Because maybe people like me are in the way and not giving them space to do that. But, uh, you know, it's been really fun, you know, I think it's going to be certainly amazing to not work, realize that I still might have income. That's not dependent on unemployment. And it still doesn't seem all that secure. So there's going to be a moment when I have to take that step and, um, and trust that it's real. Uh, just, I, I don't know how I'm gonna live another 30 years or another four. I just want to be finding ways to be a value and finding. And as long as I can do that, it's going to feel like a day well-spent.