It was June 1987 when two new nurses, fresh out of college, found themselves working on the same unit (7 South, Inpatient Oncology) at Beaumont, Royal Oak. What they didn’t know was this was the beginning of an incredible 35-year friendship.
“I grew up in a small town and have always been social and love being around people,” said Norma Spryszak, RN. “I rented my first apartment and was so lonely living by myself that I asked openly at work if anyone would like to move in with me.”
Julie Shingler, RN, also a graduate nurse at the time, still lived with her parents and decided to take Norma up on the offer.
Jumping at the opportunity to make a new friend and gain some independence, Julie describes those early days in their friendship as times she will always treasure.
“Norma and I connected instantly,” Julie said. “We had a one-bedroom apartment with a pull-out couch and made enough money to pay rent, our car payments and our fun money. There were many times we worked a double shift, came home and slept until we had to get up the next day. We kept each other going during those stressful times and overall had the best times together.”
From then on, Norma and Julie were inseparable. They have been through many of life’s big moments together: weddings, births, deaths and moves. Julie was Norma’s maid of honor, and Norma’s two grown boys still call her “Aunt Julie.”
“It’s hard to believe her kids are the same ages now as when Norma and I met,” Julie said.
They have gone on many adventures together, including summer trips to Mackinaw and Saugatuck, Rod Stewart concerts, and last year, a trip to Nashville, “trying every restaurant and bar in the city.”
Norma attended Nursing school in Flint and grew up in Imlay City. Julie attended Ferris State University and grew up in Novi. Without Beaumont, they likely would have never crossed paths.
While their career goals led them to eventually work on different units, both agree that having a best friend at work makes all the difference.
“It has made it easy to bounce things off of each other, and we truly understand what struggles the other person is dealing with,” Norma said. “The people you work with are an extension of your family.”
“Like we always say, we started together and we’re definitely going to retire one day together,” Julie said.
Norma added, “I will forever be grateful for this gift of friendship and have Beaumont to thank for it.”