Helpless or hurt animals seemed to sense instinctively that former ICU nurse Kim McMullen would give them the very best care.
Like the baby flying squirrel that wound up in her backyard.
“Kim took it in, researched the proper formula for baby squirrels, fed it with an eye-dropper, nursed it back to health and released it into the wild when it was ready,” said Catherine Sweat of Atlanta, a longtime friend.
Then there were the two ducklings her daughter Lindsay brought home from an Easter sale at a local store.
“Rather than take them back, as I suggested, Kim was determined to give them a decent life,” said her husband, Dr. James McMullen of Conyers.
“She raised them in the basement and over time taught them survival skills,” he said. “She bought crickets and minnows at a bait shop and taught the ducklings how to catch them and eat them. Later she released them at a pond at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit where they thrive to this day.”
Then there was the cat that was run over in her neighborhood.
“She took a flashlight that night and miraculously found the cat in the woods a half-mile away,” Dr. McMullen said. “We took it to an emergency clinic for treatment and brought it home a day later in a coma.”
“Kim nourished that cat back to health with water she drained from cans of tuna. It was lame for a while, but now it runs like the wind,” he said. “We call the cat Magic.”
Kimberley A. McMullen, 49, of Conyers, died Tuesday at Abbey Hospice of complications from a brain tumor. A memorial service is planned next month. Cremation Society of the South at Eagles Landing is in charge of arrangements.
Even as a child, Mrs. McMullen showed the caring instincts of a nurse, said her stepmother, Joyce Headley of Milledgeville, a nurse herself. Later, when Mrs. McMullen became an ICU nurse at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta, it was the perfect job for her, Mrs. Headley said. “Kim got to know the patients and their families well and treated them like people, not case studies.”
Similarly, she nursed her family. Her brother, Dr. Brad Headley of Swainsboro, said, “When my father and my brother had surgeries, Kim would move in and help take care of them for as long as it took while they recuperated.”
She remained a font of medical knowledge even after leaving the nursing profession. “I called her whenever we had a medical problem in my family,” said Mrs. Sweat. “Kim was my personal Web MD.”
Mrs. McMullen’s caring for nature didn’t end with animals. She was a master gardener, who replenished her English-style garden with wildflower seeds she collected along roadsides.
In addition, she was “the landscaper of her cul-de-sac,” according to her neighbor, Kathy Holbrook of Conyers.
“Once I came home to find Kim had planted several azalea bushes in my front yard,” Mrs. Holbrook said. “Then several days later I discovered the azaleas were gone, and Kim had planted other flowering bushes in their place. She told me the azaleas were not flourishing because of drainage or something, so she moved them to another neighbor’s yard where they would do well.”
Survivors include her daughter, Lindsay McMullen of Conyers; her mother, Jane Payne of Milledgeville; her father, Dr. William Headley of Milledgeville; her sister, Dawn Muschell of Swainsboro; two other brothers, Brett Headley of Marietta and Dean Headley of Orlando; a stepsister, Caron Pennington of Milledgeville, and a stepbrother, Kevin Cox of Milledgeville.
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