Christmas memories linger with nurse – by Curt Swarm, Empty Nest


It was Christmas Eve. Mary Murphy, of Mt. Pleasant, was told to go outside to a car where there was a woman who needed help. At the car, a beat up old Ford, Mary discovered a young woman who was very pregnant. The young woman, a girl really, looked at Mary and said, “Please, my mother doesn’t know.” Mary half walked and half carried the girl to the elevator and pushed the button for OB. It would be better than trying to deliver the baby in ER. In the elevator the girl cried, “It’s coming!” Mary put her hand between the girl’s legs, and held the baby in. The OB door was locked. Mary kicked on the door, and a nurse opened it. “We need help right now!” Mary hollered. They carried the girl into the delivery room where she had a baby boy. It was Christmas morning.
It was snowing like crazy on Christmas Eve. There had been a car accident. A man had a bad head injury. Henry County Hospital had no ventilator then, so Mary was bagging the man by hand. They had to get him to the University of Iowa Hospital, fast. The Highway Patrol was closing Highway 218, which was still two lanes, but would let the ambulance through. Nurses were required to go on the ambulance then, to administer drugs. The ambulance could only go about 35 miles-an-hour, and was fishtailing most of the way. They finally arrived and delivered their patient safely. Mary’s stomach was churning. They hadn’t eaten all day. But late on Christmas Eve, in a snow storm, what was open? The ambulance driver said, “I know where we can go.” He drove them to his girlfriend’s house, a nurse, and knocked on the door. “Can you feed us?” he asked. “C’mon in,” the nurse said. She fed them frozen pizza that never tasted so good.
Mary had gone back to Iowa Wesleyan College to get her Bachelor’s Degree, so she was only working weekends. Christmas fell on Wednesday that year, so Mary was pleased, thinking she wouldn’t have to work. Wouldn’t you know it, at ten o’clock on Christmas Eve, the phone rang (dreaded feeling). Someone had called in sick. Could she come in? Mary told them, “No,” she couldn’t leave her kids alone. Her husband went to work at 4:00 in the morning. They said, “No problem. Bring the kids in.” “Really?” Mary was incredulous. The kids thought it was great. They each had their own bed and got to spend Christmas Eve in the hospital.
One Christmas all the nurses wore Santa hats. They went to the gift shop and bought Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus trolls and delivered them to the patients and sang Christmas songs. The patients were so excited.
Mary Murphy of Mt. Pleasant retired this spring after 42 years of nursing, most of them as an ER nurse. She can’t go anywhere without people knowing her and wanting to stop and talk, to let her know how they are doing. She has cared for mothers and their children and their grandchildren. This Christmas Eve, Mary, who is really an angle of mercy, will probably be wondering if the phone is going to ring. She wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!
Note: Curt Swarm is teaching a creative writing class in his home. He needs one more participant. The classes will be on Saturday afternoons, starting Jan 5. There will be six sessions. If interested, call Curt at the contact information below for details.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him, or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

About Chuck Vandenberg 5617 Articles
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