i chose to journal about personal growth
When I left my home town to begin Nursing Training, my Father’s parting words were both a spur and an impediment to my progress. He said, “I’ll give you a couple of weeks and you’ll be back with your tail between your legs, you’re too soft and thin skinned to survive the course.” In the days when positive talk was thought to give people a ‘big head’ this was his forthright way of motivating me. The harsh words stung and I was determined to prove him wrong.
My life in our tiny rural community was safe and quiet. Recreational activities were always with people my parents knew and I was cripplingly shy. Because I grew up in an all girl household, I knew nothing about the male of the species and was socially inept.
My first tasks as a Probationary Nurse were a combination of household chores; lighting fires, serving meals and scrubbing soiled linen, with only occasional interaction with the patients. Imagine my nervous approach to an old man when told to give him a sponge bath in bed. Unknown to me, he had a hydrocele (excess fluid in the sac) causing his ‘package’ to swell to four times it’s normal size.
Sensing my shyness he threw off the sheet and said, “Here you are girly, give it a good old scrub, it won’t bite!” I felt a blush stain my face when I spotted what needed to be washed. I thought, “Oh my giddy aunt, is that what men had hidden in their trousers?” Later, the same old larrikin helped me overcome my fear of injections by offering his bony old hips for me to puncture. He urged me to dart the needle in to his flesh with, “Come on girly, don’t be a squib, I know you can do it.”
Many times I cried tears of sorrow or exhaustion but I also exalted when a delicate procedure or good nursing care, saved a life. My Father’s words kept me nose to the grind stone every time I thought, “This is all too hard, I just can’t stand it another minute.”
After four years of grueling study, exams and sheer hard physical work I gradually became confident in my own stamina and ability to prevail. By the time this photo was taken at my Sister’s 21st Birthday party, I had passed my final examinations and was working in the bush, as a Trained Nurse, while saving to travel overseas. There was no haute couture in this tiny country town; Mother wasn’t around to help and I wanted to look sophisticated and glamorous on a budget. With necessity being the mother of invention, I decided I could craft an outfit. Having drafted a rudimentary pattern I sewed a brocade skirt and crocheted a cream top. I was thrilled with the result and had a wonderful time at the party.
My taciturn Father knew me better than I knew myself and I am forever grateful for his part in my achievments. A life long career, financial independence and a thirst for travel resulted from his parting words.