My mom was as a nursing sister.
Straight out of high school from a small farming town called Pofadder, in the Northern Cape, mom signed up to become a nurse. The Second World War was in full swing, and nurses were in high demand, so she was promptly sent to Johannesburg for training.
My dad joined the war effort and signed up to join the Air Force. For his training, he was also transferred to Johannesburg. As fate would have it, my dad was also from Pofadder and knew my mom from school. The nursing home was having a dance, and my dad asked my mom. They started dating, and a few years later were married. They were married for 60 years.
After the war, my mom worked at a hospital in central Johannesburg.
Mom chose the night shift.
From 6 at night till 6 in the morning — for 53 years, barely missing a day. Her dedication was not only endless, but more so selfless. My mom would work Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so other nurses could be with their families. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be with her family, she loved us dearly, but she saw it as her duty. For her, it wasn’t a question whether the patients were more important, it was that they needed her care.
What was great growing up, my mom was at home with us during the day. Even though she would have to sleep during the day, she always made time for us. She made sure that our time together was quality time. So, she would read us stories, and we would draw and colour in, and learn that was interesting and fun. Spending so much time with her, she taught me how to read, write and do basic arithmetic by the age of 6.
From time to time, during school holidays, my mom would take one of us kids with her to work. This was a very special outing and we had to be on our best behaviour. I would go with her on her round, meeting all the patients. Even the hospital food was exciting — there was always jelly and ice-cream for dessert! At bed-time, my mom arranged for me to sleep in an empty ward. In the morning, I would get breakfast in bed, like the other ‘patients’.
At 92, my mom is my mentor and best friend. What I have seen, is her gentle demeanour, deep empathy, and caring heart. Not only to her patients, but to anyone she meets. Her amazing ability to ‘heal’, has never waned.