5: I’ve Always Been Fond of Nurses

5: I’ve Always Been Fond of Nurses

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

I’ve Always Been Fond of Nurses

Blessed be the hand that prepares a pleasure for a child, for there is no saying when and where it may bloom forth.

~Douglas Jerrold

My love of nurses began back in 1960. My mother and I were set to board a U.S.-bound military transport ship in Yokosuka, Japan, when a review of our records showed we lacked the proper documentation that would allow us passage. We were traveling without my mother’s husband (my newly adoptive father whom I had yet to meet) because he was a navy man and had already been transferred back to the States. Given my mom’s limited English and the bureaucratic confluence of customs, immigration, and military regulations, our situation would not find quick relief. When my mom began wiping away tears, I was bewildered, clueless as to what was happening.

I was eager to board the ship and get the journey underway, and spent much of my time in the terminal daydreaming. Like so many young Japanese boys, my heroes either swung samurai swords or baseball bats. I knew that America was where baseball came from, but I also wondered if I would ever see another samurai movie. I had watched my very first John Wayne western, Rio Bravo, just months before and realized that the western was very similar to a samurai movie, and I could easily imagine a cowboy with a six-shooter and a samurai sword.

My mother had talked up “America” for months, but as she pleaded with the authorities I sensed that America was not too keen on us. When she returned to the bench in the middle of the embarkation terminal, her crying became more pronounced and my bewilderment turned to dread. I was convinced that her sobbing meant we would not only miss the ship, but likely not ever be allowed into America. Clutching my mother’s arm, I too began to bawl.

It was at that very moment… as if she were the star making her entrance onto the stage… that a woman walked into the terminal in full nurse uniform and immediately captured everyone’s attention. She chatted briefly with a naval officer who directed her our way. As she approached, I tried to hide behind the bench but stumbled and scraped my knee. I peered up over the bench and made eye contact with her just as she scrunched her brow, cocked her head to one side and exaggerated a sad face, then offered up a huge grin. I was enchanted; it was the very first time I ever saw such a woman, a Gaijin with golden blond hair and gem-like blue eyes.

Standing in front of us, she wore a very kind face with soft features that offset her crisply starched uniform. With her white blouse and skirt, she wore white stockings, white shoes, and her golden hair up in a bun that was partially hidden by one of those odd white caps that American nurses don’t wear anymore. She was the very model of the registered nurse. When she sat down beside us and began speaking to my mother in Japanese, I saw her as an angel, a beautiful and blithe spirit who, with an arm around Mom’s shoulders, comforted her with a warmth and reassurance that proved a gentle salve to my mother’s fractured emotions.

Within a few minutes the nurse had Mom smiling as she explained to us that our health records were incomplete, that the officials had to make sure we were not carrying any exotic diseases. The nurse escorted us to the medical dispensary for new physicals. She also put antiseptic on my scraped knee and introduced me to the Band-Aid. Within a couple of hours, we were cleared to board the ship.

I departed for the States that day with three ideas embossed prominently in my brain: 1) baseball is best in America; 2) don’t mess with John Wayne without a samurai sword; and 3) if you get hurt playing baseball or messing with John Wayne, find a nurse.

My wife became an RN in her own right a few years after we were married, and whenever I recounted this story, my brunette wife would add jokingly that it also explained why I was so attracted to blondes! But I’ve always been fond of nurses, all kinds! My wife was too modest to admit that she had helped heal countless physical and emotional wounds throughout her years as a nurse. I have come across many notes, cards, and letters addressed to her from grateful patients and family members deeply touched by her caring.

~Kosuke Vasquez

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