Nursing A Passion

How it all began…


One of the first things people ask me is why I decided to write this particular story, so now I’d like to answer that question.


It all began with postcards; not the pretty kind that you would send home with the message, “Wish you were here.” I was reading a book entitled “Postcards of Nursing,” when I came across a series of six postcards that riveted my attention. They were vividly designed by an Italian artist, Tito Corbella. One depicted a dead nurse with the British flag thrown over her body. In another, a skeleton dressed in a black robe played a piano next to her dead body. The subscript read, “The Murder of Miss Cavell inspires German Kultur.”

I tried to understand what I was seeing. These were not the typical pictures of cute nurses caring for handsome soldiers who kissed their hands in gratitude. I turned the page and the brilliant colors jumped out at me. This postcard was one of a German soldier wearing the spiked helmet of World War I. He lay wounded in the arms of the same nurse who leaned over him in a caring way. The black-clad skeleton hovered over them both with a sword in his hand. The caption read, “Kultur threatens Miss Cavell nursing a wounded enemy.”


Now I was even more puzzled. This was a Brit taking care of an enemy German soldier?

My eyes jumped from picture to picture. Despite their disturbing nature, like watching a train wreck, I couldn’t look away. Then the pictures changed. One showed a sepia-toned contented Edith Cavell sitting on a garden bench with her two dogs at her side. Could this be the same nurse shown in the other pictures? Each picture enticed me to want to know more. I turned to the end of the chapter where the author gave an explanation of the postcards. It spoke of a British nurse named Edith Cavell, who was called to Belgium by a surgeon who was tired of having his patients die from poor nursing care provided by the untrained workers. You’ll just have to read the book to find out how it went between this refined nurse and the hot-headed surgeon.


Jumping to the end of the story, I was enthralled with the sentence that read, “Britain’s most extensive effort of the war was launched around Nurse Cavell. It went on to explain her influence in making a difference in the outcome of the Great War. While living in occupied Belgium, she makes a very difficult decision––but that’s for another time.


I wondered how I could be a nurse and never had heard of this amazing nurse. I thought it was my ignorance until I asked around and found that I couldn’t find anyone who knew about her. Granted she lived a hundred years ago and was British, but the same is true of Flo Nightingale and everybody knows her. So I set about to learn more of Edith. The more I searched, the more I was drawn into her amazing story. In time, the story had me in its grip and I couldn’t put it aside. It took me to Norwich where she lived. It also took me to Brussels where much of this story takes place. I had to get where she had been so I could to write meaningfully about it. It was humbling to stand where she––but I’m getting ahead of myself here. I felt compelled to share her incredible story so that my readers would experience it as it unfolded. It will be up to you to determine if I succeeded.


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