This week we celebrated my mother’s 74th birthday. She is someone who has many friends and no enemies. She taught me to believe in myself beyond reason, always do my best, and never burn bridges. She left Ireland at 18 to train as a nurse in England and then went on to study midwifery in Scotland. When she started that journey she had never seen a telephone and knew very little about the world outside her small village. A story she told me about something that happened years later has reminded me that we can always make a difference.
My mom had only been in Canada for a few weeks and was working as a nurse. As a midwife trained in the farmlands of Scotland she knew a lot about pregnant women. And on one particular night shift a couple of days before Christmas, she knew that her patient, and her unborn child, needed help.
She called the patient’s doctor and told him that he needed to come back to the hospital to assess her. He told my mom that he knew what he was doing and he didn’t need to come back in.
Then my mom called the on-call doctor but his line was busy.
Her co-workers told her not to worry. She had done her job and called the doctor. But she didn’t see it that way. It wasn’t just about doing her duty, it was about doing her best.
That’s when my mother, a young Irish immigrant only in the country and in the job a few weeks, did something remarkable. She marched down to the hospital manager and told her that unless there was a surgeon in the hospital who could deliver a baby, she would have to get the on-call doctor onto the premises as soon as possible.
The hospital manager, who was scared out of her wits, sent a police cruiser to the on-call doctor’s house where it was discovered that his young children had the phone off the hook.
The on-call doctor came back to the hospital with the police, saw the patient, and went straight into the operating room to perform an emergency C-section.
A few hours later the doctor said he wanted to see my mother. She wondered whether her stay at this hospital might be shorter than she had planned.
He called her into his office and said, “Fifteen more minutes and that baby would have been gone. You did a great job. Thank you.”
As a mom of three young kids myself, I’ve often thought about that baby, who would be a few years older than me. Someone who has lived and loved and probably has a family of their own. All because my mother didn’t stop until she had done what she thought was right.
I am so proud of my mother and I hope this birthday is the beginning of a year full of love, luck and laughter for her.
As Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, once said, “At an early age, my mother gave me this feeling that anything is possible, and I believe that.” May we all remember that anything is possible if we believe in ourselves and do what we feel is right.
I’m off on an adventure for a little while and will be back to blogging shortly.
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