To Love a Nurse with Words

It is Nurses Week and while I am a nurse my thoughts go to the nurse I love and know best, my Mom.

She never talked much about all the things she did as a nurse and I truly wish I had asked more questions.

I am unsure, however, if she would have had much to say.  She grew up in a family that didn’t like to call attention to themselves or boast about their accomplishments.

On top of that there are some things nurses don’t bring home because they are either too sad or it  just hasn’t been processed enough to talk about.  They often talk amongst themselves or with those who were there and get it.  Or not at all but it remains engraved in their memory forever.

When I was about 12 my Mom and I were cleaning out her cedar chest and she found this letter.  I didn’t really understand its impact as a young adolescent  but I remember asking her questions about it.  She only said it was very sad, turned her head and put it away.

Just a few years ago I found it and realized I had found a treasure and an inkling into my mothers’ dedication as a nurse.

Written in June of 1947 it said:

    Dear Miss Kline,

      Mrs. Snyder and I wish to thank you and express our sincere appreciation for the many things you did both in and out of your line of duty to make Ronald’s illness more bearable and brighter.

     The love and confidence he had in you in his last moments on earth will always be a beautiful memory of our Dear Boy, who went bravely and a lovely girl who stood by him to the very end.

                                                                     Loveling yours,

                                                                         Mr. and Mrs. Snyder

I did a little research and found out the young boy was 13 and died from a heart damaged by a bout with Scarlet Fever.

My Mom was in the last weeks of nursing school when this happened and I can only hope the hospital and her instructors took note of the exceptional nurse they had in their midst.

She went on to work in Labor and Delivery, Newborn Nursery, and PostPartum.

She, however, spent the majority of her time working with pediatric polio patients at the hospital and also in the State Hospital for Crippled Children in Elizabeth Town, Pennsylvania.

Around this time she was engaged to my father.  My grandparents were not thrilled about it as they wanted my Dad to marry a local gal.  Ted Holtzinger, father to my mothers best friend Louise, stepped up and wrote them a letter, telling them what a wonderful person she was but also a bit about her work as a nurse that gave me even more insight into my mothers devotion to her patients and her profession.

He wrote in 1951:

I want to tell you of her heroic efforts in behalf of the littlest victims of this city’s worst polio epidemic.  She had special training in this type of work and she also had a rather easy job at the hospital at the time the epidemic hit us full force this summer.  Most nurse so situated would not have consented so readily as she did to leave the comparative safety of a good job and go into the bulbar section of the polio ward, where she worked around the clock for what must have seemed endless days trying to save those who were most seriously afflicted from death or from a life sentence to the worst phases of crippling that makes polio such a dreaded scourge.

     I saw her there one night when the epidemic was at its height, her hands and arms reddened to the elbow from the hot packs she was administering to the sufferers of this worst form of polio. I watched her wince as she lifted hot pack after hot pack from the scalding water and I said a silent prayer of thanks for women like Betty who could forget self in service of other so grievously afflicted and yet so needful of her administrations.

My point in all this is if you have a nurse in your life as a relative, a friend or your life has been impacted by their expertise, skills, love or kindness then let them know.

Let them know you see them.

Let them know you appreciate them.

While flowers and gifts are nice the things that last the longest are your words.

Write them down, on paper, with a pen.

These words are over 70 years old and they are treasured.

Love a nurse with your words.

It matters more than you know.

As always ..keep triing and Happy Nurses Week!


P. S.  It didn’t take long for my grandparents to love and cherish my mother 🙂

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