Carla Carter is an original -- a nurse with a passion for Shakespeare.
The Manzanita Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center employee was attracted to the bard at a young age.
"I was probably about 9," she said. I was always a big reader, and I remember reading an article about Shakespeare and ‘Romeo and Juliet.'
"They called it the greatest love story of all time, and I'm, like, ‘Really.' I remember picking it up and not understanding it.
"My mother at the time was also a big reader, and I remember talking to her about it, and she helped me get through ‘Romeo and Juliet.' I was too young to comprehend it all, but I think that's when I fell in love with it. I like a challenge."
Carter also likes working with the elderly, another passion she picked up at a relatively young age.
"I started working when I was 14 in the kitchen of a nursing home," she said. "I fell in love with old people, especially their stories about the war."
Old or young, Carter believes there are two components necessary for success -- hard work and a positive attitude.
"I worked very hard to be where I am today," she said. "I became a CNA, then a CMA, then a nurse, and I'm currently working on my bachelor's degree. I'm working full time and going to school full time."
Her favorite patients are the ones who manage to stay positive.
"I think we were given something wonderful, and what we make out of it is what we make out of it," she said. "You can sit around and be miserable and not do anything with your life, or you can do something wonderful, or you can do the things that you always wanted to do. Then when you get that age you have lots of stories to tell," she said.
Carter admits that working in a nursing home can be a downer at times.
"Some days you come in and you see a very young person diagnosed with cancer or something, and you wonder is that me 10 years from now?" she said. "People work their whole lives to get somewhere -- like I worked two jobs at a time up until recently -- worrying about bills, working all the time, so you can get to that point where you can retire and travel and do all those wonderful things, and then they can't. That's depressing."
But she is quick to point out that her job can also be rewarding.
"I'll give you an example," she said. "We have one patient who basically has a very short time to live. He's in refusal and has reasons for not being able to walk.
"Yesterday, I walked into the therapy department (we have a wonderful therapy department) and this person who was basically told he has three months to live and would never walk was walking across the therapy room. I walked out of here feeling wonderful. That's what we do. It was very uplifting.'
Carter was born in Indiana and spent many years in Oklahoma before moving to Payson. After becoming a nurse she went to work at a large hospital in Tulsa.
Carter, who has a 10-year-old son, moved to Payson for family reasons.
"My favorite grandparents are up in Forest Lakes, and I wanted my son to get to know them," she said. "That was my original reason for moving here."
When she got here she took a job at Payson Regional Medical Center.
"I was also a patient there, and they're very good, but they just don't pay enough," she said.
Besides, her first love was working with the elderly.
"I checked out Payson Care Center and toured the facility, but I chose to come here," she said. "I just like the people here. They're happy and I like to be happy when I'm working."
That was four years ago, and she's stayed with Manzanita through good times and bad.
"All facilities have their ups and downs," she said. "I've been through my paychecks bouncing and my insurance canceled.
"But I feel Manzanita is a diamond in the rough. They're so close to being the best, and right now, honestly, it's the best I've ever seen it. This administration is wonderful."
Oh, and one more thing from Carter this election year. She doesn't take kindly to people who don't vote, especially young people.
"I'm 32 and I have a lot of friends my age and nobody votes," she said. "I went to vote yesterday, and I asked them, ‘How many people under 40 have actually been in to vote?' She said, ‘One.'
"So I went to the video store and I asked the guy working there, ‘Did you vote?'" He said, ‘No, I'm not into politics. Nothing you can do changes anything.'
"I said, ‘Are you crazy? You have to pick someone who has the beliefs you have and you get enough of them in there and things can change.' He started complaining about Bush and I said, ‘What right do you have?'"
Carla Carter, Shakespeare-loving nurse, is an original.
Name: Carla Carter
Employer: Manzanita Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
Age: 29 and holding (actually 32).
Birthplace: Breman, Ind.
Family: Natural mother deceased. Father Larry Owens, stepmother Heidi Owens of Hominy, Okla. Four sisters: Bobbie, Tina, Jennifer, Heather. Ten-year-old son: Justin. Wonderful, long-term boyfriend: RJ.
Personal motto: I always do what I say I will.
Inspiration: My father.
Greatest feat: Having my son.
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: reading.
Three words that describe me best: Honest, dependable, positive.
I don't want to brag but ... I am a great nurse.
Person in history I'd most like to meet: William Shakespeare.
Luxury defined: Not having to worry about money.
Dream vacation spot: Italy.
Why Payson? My grandparents live in Forest Lakes and I wanted my son to get to know them. Payson is beautiful, a wonderful place to raise children.