Where in the world is Bluffton?


Having spent far too many days now in this hospital, I’ve gotten used to the inevitable question of “Where are you from?” This is often followed by “Where’s Bluffton?” But not always. Once in awhile, there is a glint of recognition.

It’s always fun to see what kind of connections one can make with strangers when out of town. This began on one of our first days here when my husband was wandering downstairs for something and ran into not a stranger, but Megan Watkins, a Bluffton native and classmate of our daughter. I’m not sure which one was more surprised.

One night, my new night nurse stopped in to introduce herself as Laura Manahan. Turns out her daughter, Emily, plays first base on the Bluffton University softball team. Emily, she says, “absolutely LOVES  Bluffton.”

Another nurse, Christina, is from Paulding and was familiar with the high school football rivalries between Paulding and Bluffton. We also discovered one name that was familiar to both of us — Goings. Mike Goings left Paulding after high school to play football at Bluffton University and later coached the Beavers.

Last night my nurse’s response to the question about my home was an “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.” That’s always a telltale sign. Turns out his brother attended Bluffton University for one year in the early ’80s. He’d gone there to play football, but for some reason didn’t hang around.

Then there’s Xu (Shoe). Xu really has no idea where Bluffton is; in fact, her knowledge of Ohio geography outside the Columbus area is pretty limited. But Xu is one of my favorite nurses. She’s very serious, very focused on what she is doing. We started talking one night after she discovered that my dad lived in China for the first 20 years of his life. Xu came to the U.S. just 10 years ago when her husband was accepted into a botany program at OSU. She too was a botany major, but decided to go into nursing. Her English is nearly impeccable, but there are words that catch her up and she ends up spelling them. She can spell the most complicated drug names perfectly — the ones most of us can’t pronounce.

Xu is tiny, but very strong, caring but no-nonsense. Her humor hides behind her seriousness. One night Lindsay and I asked if she had children. She grinned and said, “Oh yes, 19-month-old twins.”

Back to the Bluffton connections. One of my ID docs told me that her childhood friend, attended Bluffton University in the early 2000’s. Her name was Brooke Yoder. The name sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I’ve not heard confirmation from any of my coworkers.

One of the most interesting — and less obvious connections — is aural. Only my husband and I have heard it. My head ID doc is 6′ 4.5″, which isn’t really significant until you put that together with his voice. One day we heard him talking in the hallway and realized that he sounds JUST like Dr. Jim Harder, Bluffton president, especially when he says, “Well, theoretically…..”

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9 responses to “Where in the world is Bluffton?

  1. Mary, How very good to have you back! Bless you!

    Jean

  2. I’m pretty sure I went to Bluffton with Brooke. I graduated in 2004.

    • Pannabecker Steiner Mary

      Lucas — Thanks! That sounds right because I’m pretty sure she said they graduated from hs in 2000. Was she an el ed major?

  3. Ramona Hauenstein

    I live in Columbus and was in the James Cancer Center and one of my night nurses is a distant relative and sister to one of my classmates at BHS. The other was a daughter of another classmate and went to the same church that I did.

  4. Margaret Mann

    Here is my favorite Bluffton Connection: I now live in a very large city (Houston) and work at a very large church (8,000+ members). One day I was talking with a young man who worked in our communications dept. Through the conversation I discovered that his grandparents lived in Lima and he often goes to visit them (they owned the Plastic factory). At one point I said, “oh, then you’ve heard of Bluffton?” and he replied, “oh yeah! They have a really cool coffee shop and I go there, when I ‘m home, to work on my laptop!” Small world.

    • Pannabecker Steiner Mary

      Is his grandfather Stanley Tam?

      • Margaret Mann

        I don’t know his grandparent’s name (his last name is Long). On another Bluffton trip I ran in to Jane Shaw and discovered that this young man’s mom is in Jane’s mom’s Bible study. Same guy, same small world.

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