Worthy, Part 2

Rhiannon Worthy came from a family of remarkable women. Her mother, Abigail Padgett Worthy, had not been content to sit at home while her husband managed a newspaper, and instead joined him, becoming one of Seattle’s first women correspondents in the 40s, and when her husband died from cancer, just two years after Rhiannon was born, Abigail took over as managing editor, often carting her young daughter down to the paper with her. Rhiannon’s oldest sister, Raegan, was a talented painter, earning a scholarship to study in Paris during her junior year of high school, and the middle daughter, Rosalind had a high aptitude for science and the fledgling field of computing. Rhiannon had been the surprise child in her family, born when Raegan was sixteen and Rosalind fourteen, so she wasn’t very close to her older sisters as a child.

As accomplished as Abigail and her two oldest daughters were, they also had many problems, as mental illness ran in Abigail’s family. When she was a child, Raegan sometimes heard voices, whispers at first, but as a she grew older, the voices grew louder and more urgent. Her first major episode was while she was studying abroad, and caused her to cut short her trip. Ironically, the worse her condition was, the more expressive her work became, earning her several exhibitions before she was twenty. Her mother struggled to help her, especially since Raegan was often uncooperative, frequently going off her medications to fuel her creativity. At last, Abigail had to have Raegan institutionalized. The treatment was effective, but Raegan found she could no longer create. Faced with the prospect of a life without her art, Raegan swallowed a lethal quantity of drain cleaner during one of her visits home. She was twenty-two. As a result, Rhiannon, age six at the time, knew almost nothing about her oldest sister, save for a few details Rosalind would share over the years. Perhaps due to the loss of her older sister, Rosalind endeavored to be a better sibling to Rhiannon. Even though she was in college, Rosalind made every effort to be with her baby sister, looking after Rhiannon when she home, phoning frequently and sending gifts when she was away. While Rosalind also had bouts with paranoia and anxiety, it was a physical and not a mental issue, that afforded her more time with Rhiannon.

Toward the end of her sophomore year, Rosalind was diagnosed with cervical cancer which had spread to her uterus. She underwent a hysterectomy and radiation treatments which left her incapable of conceiving or carrying a child. While starting a family had not been a priority for her, she had never completely ruled out the possibility until her treatment made it impossible. She took more than a year off from school and sank into a major depression. The only bright spot for her was the time she spent with Rhiannon. Eventually, she recovered and continued her studies, but she was grateful for the opportunity she’d had to bond with her remaining sister.

As she got older, Rhiannon’s mother began showing signs of mental illness as well. Shortly after Rhiannon graduated high school, it became necessary for Rosalind to put Abigail into a nursing home. For the first few years, Abigail was able to recognize her daughters but as time went on her memory failed her and each time Rhiannon visited, she saw more of her mother slip away. One consequence of her visits was that Rhiannon had the chance to interact with the nursing staff, and she found the work they did appealing to her.

Rhiannon always worried she, too, would one day have to deal with psychological problems, but she made it through high school and into college without any signs of trouble. While not as talented as her older sister, Rosalind, she also had an aptitude for science, and with all the experience she’d gained from taking care of her mother and the times she spent quizzing the staff at the nursing home, she decided on a career in nursing. She also had an ulterior motive, as she felt it would be a good way to meet a well-to-do doctor. Once she had her degree, she packed her bags and headed to Portland where she’d received an offer from Armstrong Memorial Medical Center. It was here, during a rotation in neurology, that she met the head of the department, Dr. Daniel Winthrop Hawkins, and began an affair with him.

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