B-Yourself: Kathy Rena McKay

Name: Kathy Rena McKay, although my mother-in-law, Sarah McKay, nicknamed me Kate. I’m primarily called Kate by friends, but will always be “Kat” to my daddy.
Age: 42

My hometown: Cordova, Ala.
Profession: I have been a registered nurse my whole working career. I have many years of concentrated study and experience in trauma and critical care. At present, my career is focused on my family. Due to a progressive kidney condition, I no longer work in the hospital.
Who most inspires you? Women who find a way to be keepers of the home, executives in the boardroom and president of the PTA. In the age of feminist attitude, I still hold the truths taught to me as a child that a woman can do or be anything while answering her own personal call to be wife, mother and friend. I cherish the years of being a soccer mom, all the while achieving my own personal dreams and building my career. Given the choice, I’d do it all over again.
What personal message would you send women if you could? I would tell women to embrace who they are. Be authentic and real. We are not meant to be cookie-cutter perfect. My scars and imperfections are proof that I survived the hard times. No other woman bears the same scars, nor do they reflect the same beauty. I am an original. No one needs a carbon copy. Anyway, God knew if there were two of me we would take over the world.
What is your most marked characteristic? Without a doubt, my Southern belle persona. My husband often tells others that I am the perfect prototype of a true Southern belle. I still cook in an iron skillet and keep sweet tea available for company that may stop by. If you are lucky, I’ll have a fried apple pie on the stove to offer with the tea, although they never last very long.
Guilty pleasure: I love Bravo Network’s The Real Housewives. Atlanta Housewives remains my favorite; however, I watch them all. I typically wait until Greg is golfing or at work to watch all the episodes I have recorded on the DVR.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear would be to not be needed. I was born to be a caregiver. After raising my children and caring for literally hundreds of ill and dying patients, I cant imagine having no one to care for.
What is the hardest thing you are dealing with today? Making the conscious choice to no longer practice as a nurse. I have had several years of poor health that forced me to look at what the really important things are in my life. I truly loved working with the critically ill. After investing years in education and training, walking away wasn’t easy. I look back over all the crisis, pain and suffering of those I was so blessed to care for and wonder why God chose me to be the person at the bedside. For whatever reason, I was, and I knew it was an honor to be chosen for that patient at that particular time in their life.
Favorite book: Don’t let my blonde hair fool you! I am a nerd at heart and read constantly. I gravitate toward science or medical-based work with a cardiac and pulmonary focus. I read medical journals and nursing journals in an effort to keep up with current trends. I rarely read fiction, but when I do, it’s Southern literature. Presently I am reading Rhett Butler’s People, by Donald McCaig. After reading Scarlett, by Alexandra Ripley, it was an easy choice.
Which living person do you most admire? Shirley Baker, my aunt. She is the most graceful and kind woman I know. She is the example of what kind of woman, homemaker, wife and mother I want to emulate. I don’t know of one person who has ever had a bad thing to say about her, nor have I ever heard her say a bad word about anyone else. I aspire to be as kindly spoken, and as kindly spoken of.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? ‘Well, bless her heart.” I think every Southern woman uses that phrase in lieu of saying what they really think.
What is your greatest achievement? Bar none, completing my degrees while successfully being a mother, wife and volunteer. At one time, I worked full-time as an LPN in orthopedic surgery while being a full-time student getting my RN degree. My children were school age, and we were very involved in our community. While it wasn’t easy, it was possible.
You can never have too many…
SHOES! Anyone who knows me knows that I love shoes and I own more shoes than most my friends. I think this may fall into my guilty pleasures.

Interview and photo by Angela Karen

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