Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi. My name is Aleta Miller. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, nurse, cancer survivor, and most importantly… the daughter of a King.
I was born in 1950 in Missoula, Montana. Along with my two older brothers, I was raised on the Northside and still consider myself a proud Northsider to this day. My father worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad and our home was located across the street from the Northern Pacific Hospital. I spent many hours roaming the halls of that hospital. In those days, one could come and go as they please. No HIPPA. I had a friend, Vicky, who lived at the hospital. She had polio. We ate together and had sleepovers. I took her on walks outside in her wheelchair. She visited our church with my family. Again, back in those days, they could make this happen. In the two years she lived there we were allowed to spend time together just as friends do. I became very comfortable and familiar with hospital protocol and realized, at this young age, I liked caring for and helping people. I really feel this experience was instrumental in my realization of wanting to become a nurse.
I graduated high school and went on to nursing school in Bozeman at Montana State University. During my early college days my parents were tragically killed in a car accident. Needless to say, this was a very dark time in my life. But as so often in my life, help came my way by the encouragement and love of my brothers, my parent’s friends, and my friends. I went on to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse, graduating in 1973. It was a very joyous occasion!
An even more joyous occasion happened that same year. I married Greg Miller. A man of great character, a steady force with strong hands, the most Godly man who has led his family with integrity and love for going on almost 43 years. Greg and I were blessed with two children – Bryce, married to Kay, living in Beijing, and Jessi, married to Jon, living in Helena with our treasured grandson, Jack.
Your nursing career has lasted 43 years. That’s quite an accomplishment! What does it feel like to be retiring from a job you really love?
It feels bittersweet. I have absolutely loved my job caring for people. When someone’s at the lowest, most difficult time in their life… or at the highest, most joyful time, I get to say “hey, I made a positive difference and may have helped them through this time.” This has been very rewarding.
Also, I’ve had the privilege of working and spending a lot of time with my other family, my co-workers. We have shared our lives on such an intimate level. We’ve laughed, cried, rejoiced, grieved, disciplined, praised, dieted, and splurged. We’ve fought hard for lives and we’ve seen lives leave and through it all we’ve been there, unconditionally, for one another. I will truly miss this, but have heard it said “it’s best to leave when you’re still wanted,” so here I go and I anticipate much joy in the new chapter. A slower pace, a little travel, more volunteering, more time with family and of course, more coffee dates 🙂
What is your favorite time of day and why?
Morning (not too early) when I really have no plans for the day and I can relax, take my time, drink my coffee, do my devotions, read the paper, and of course, check Facebook. I really do relish the quietness and calmness to start my day.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” Andy Stanley
Tell us about a woman you admire.
My mother. She was so very intelligent. I hardly ever saw her without a book in her hands and yet, she was the most giving and loving person I ever knew. My Jessi reminds me so of my mother, especially when she flashes that beautiful smile… my mother’s smile. There was never a stranger in my mother’s life and she reached out to all, trying to help them. I remember coming home from school on many occasions and finding two or three transients (referred to as “bums” in those days) sitting on our back porch eating and my mother serving them. We lived only a block from the rail yard and word got around fast where one could get a good meal. Even if we were going to be gone, she would leave a couple of loaves of her freshly baked bread on the porch for them.
Another example of my mom’s selflessness was in the 1950’s when my father and mother were instrumental in helping operate the first mission in Missoula to feed the homeless. My father would preach a salvation sermon and my mother would cook and serve them a meal (in that order). They could not eat until they sat through my dad’s sermon, haha. I feel so honored and privileged to have had this example of unselfishness and love shown by my parents.
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
I like to travel to where my children are. We’ve been to China two times and are planning an extended stay there soon. I love shopping trips with Jessi and would like to explore the New England states in autumn when the colors are changing.
Describe one of your happiest memories.
That would have to be my wedding day and the birth of my children. But most memorable was the birth of my grandson, Jack, born at 23 weeks and 1 lb., 2 oz. This scary and most uncertain time has turned into the most joyous years. Jack has taught me so very much about living. His strength, his courage, his will, his determination, his kisses, his laughter, his quirks, his expressions of love, pretty much everything about him brings me such joy and a deeper appreciation for the life God created each of us for.
How would your friends describe you?
I would hope loyal, one who carries through on their word, dependable, and one who listens and is a hearer of their heart while respecting their confidence. I value these same traits in a friend.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your 20-year-old self?
I have always been one who likes everything even and in order. I would say relax, back off, let it go, live life calmer.
When do you feel the most yourself?
I feel most myself when I’m in my scrubs at work or when I have my walking shoes on. Walking out in the fresh air just revives my soul. I think it’s best described as “I can finally breathe.”
Coffee or tea?
Coffee (unless it’s bubble tea!)
Chocolate or vanilla?
Vanilla, specifically white on white cake.
Extrovert or introvert?
It depends on the situation. My kids would say extrovert.
Rural or urban?
Urban, but only as big as Missoula.
Dress up or down?
Cats or dogs?
Sunrise or sunset?
Detailed or abstract?
Detailed. I like to have things in order, hehe.
Classic or modern?
Classic. I still believe in pen to paper. I’m always telling my kids to handwrite those thank yous!!
Call or text?
Call. I like to hear a voice. But, I do admit that I like texting. It gives you time to think about a response, especially if you’re one that has a hard time saying “no”.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Both, but no self-help books.
Salty or sweet?
Salty. Gotta have my pita chips.
What do you most love about Montana?
What the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Dragging myself to chemo treatments, although it was made lighter with the company of wonderful friends who sat with me at each appointment.
For what in life are you most grateful?
Biblical principles and the truth taught to me as a child. When I had an understanding of these, I made the decision to follow Christ. In turn, I taught these same truths to my children and have the joy of knowing their commitment to also follow Christ. For this I am eternally grateful.