From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose


Even as a small child, I remember wanting to be a nurse. I dreamed of being all dressed in starched white with a cap perched neatly on my head. I always had a little plastic nurse bag, filled with the tricks of the trade. I nursed all my dolls, teddy bears, pets, and even my brother and sister when I could corner them to play with me.

Then one person seemed to seal this desire in my life. When I was eight, my mother was seriously injured and spent a month in a hospital that was forty miles from our little ranching community. She spent part of the critical time in a burn center and then was moved to a medical unit in a tall red brick building. We missed Mama so, but neither my brother, sister, nor myself were fourteen yet, so we weren’t allowed to visit.

Dad took us to the hospital and we stood on the lawn outside to see a blurred wave from our mother through a high-up window as she lay in her bed.

Dad assured us that a special nurse was taking care of Mom. Pilar was a gentle person who tenderly cared for Mom’s broken body. Then she’d sit at her bedside and read the Bible to her when my mother could not hold a book for herself. She would push the bed nearer the window so my mom could see us better on days we came to “visit.” But Mom missed her kids and her kids didn’t understand.

One day we went to town with Dad on some errands and planned to stop and wave up at my mother. We stepped up to the brick building and my dad went inside to tell Pilar we were waiting for a glimpse of Mom through the window. But instead of going into my mother’s room, Pilar took off down the back stairway, came outside to the three of us, and said, “Be very quiet and follow me.”

We went back to the stairs and snuck up to the proper floor. Pilar opened the door and glanced down the hall. Like a protective mother hen, she expertly and quietly guided us hurriedly into my mother’s room and shut the door, leaning against it like a guard. And suddenly, after weeks of only seeing her wave, there was my mom. She was in slings and bandages, but we could touch her and feel her mothering hands. I’m sure we were much too loud in our excitement, but it was too good to hold inside. My dad stood quietly and blew his nose.

The next week, we were huddled on the lawn under Mom’s window when Pilar appeared again and repeated the wonderful words, “Follow me!”We tiptoed up the back staircase and she secretly herded us into Mama’s room. There on the bedside stand sat a chocolate cake with fudge frosting. We giggled and munched with Dad and Mom and ate until it was gone.

Eventually, my mother came home. She talked often through the years about Pilar, and I realized what an impact she had made on my mother and on me.

She was exactly the nurse I wanted to be.

Terry Evans

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