For a big chunk of his life, Ben Ray Luján’s father was the person who put him in his place. The man pushed him to work, to strive, to avoid self-pity.

But with a hole the size of a silver dollar in his skull and Ben Luján Sr. long gone, the tough love for the younger Luján came from an unexpected source.

In the days after undergoing surgery for a stroke at University of New Mexico Hospital, the U.S. senator from New Mexico — a man with a big job title and even bigger responsibilities — found himself being set straight by a nurse named Tyler Mantel, who, to hear Luján tell it, had heard enough bellyaching.



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