The Apprentice

short-story-thumbsYou remember the faces more than the names. The eyes, tears, wrinkles and smiles. Those moments when a sentence or two would be uttered that stays with you forever. Like the old war veteran who took one look at his dinner in disgust, gasping through the oxygen. “Rice” he said “Bloody rice. I was in The war, a prisoner and all I ate was rice. Then when I came home, what did my wife cook me…Bloody Rice”. The young mother looking into my eyes as the dressing covered where her breast should have been, “Do I smell?”she said, as it wasn’t healing well, “all I can smell is this”, as she looked down.

Coming from the innocence of riding bikes in the street and talking in gutters to power points and the bar on the hill. How do you know if you have got it?. Knowing truly if it is in you, this Nursing business.

Not just the physical attributes, the nostril of a rhino, feet made of leather and the mind that can slip into silent meditation before speaking. It is not a whimsical profession that you slip on like a cocktail dress. It is who you are, printed in the DNA. It comes to you without consultation when you hold that lifeless hand, console the mind that is willing when the body is not and laugh with her as you look for that second slipper of a one legged Nanna which she revealed in a grand opening of the sheet. All these things are nothing but part of the blanket that wraps you.

The faces, many faces. The words all filed in the library of the mind. So when did I know it was in me? That the path had been set for a lifetime. It was the silence. Could not stand it anymore. Walking past the room a thousand times it seemed there was nothing. Finally, stopping, I walked in. The room was bare and stark with a vase of flowers colouring the whitewash walls. The noise of the tea trolley and muffled steps broke through the door with me. Looking at the chest rising and falling like an ocean, her life was still part of this world but it would not be long, the air was still, waiting. No one came visiting in all the days. The only sentence of her that I knew was that she had come from Russia. It was not right that no one acknowledged her life in her passing. So grabbing a chair, I sat down. We are there with strength and kindness, in the beginning and the end, with all the colour in between. That is the meaning of Nursing.

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