Her Name was Maggie and She was my Nurse

Her name was Maggie and I remember her being stout with short, tight curly black hair.  As far as I know, she was my nurse and protector while I was in St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay for 3 months with a burned leg.  The only photo I have of her is on the day of my discharge as she stood watch while I was being wheeled out of the hospital.  I remember her always being there with me, reading to me, patting my head gently, crying soft tears when I was in pain.  As with all thing from the era of the burned leg, I’m not sure if this is my real memory or a created memory, so I’ve made a couple efforts to seek her out.

When I was 18 — 15 years after my accident — I went back to St. Vincent Hospital to visit my friend John.  John was the quarterback of the high school football team senior year.  He took a bad hit and punctured a lung during a game.  We’d been friends since first grade.  After school one day, I walked over to the hospital to visit.  When the elevator opened on the pediatric ward and I walked up to the nurse’s station to double-check the room number, she ran out from behind the desk and gave me a massive bear hug.  I wasn’t sure who she was or why she held me so tightly.  “You’ve come back Annie, you’re back,” she said, shaking me so hard it almost hurt.  “It’s me, it’s Maggie.”    

How she could have recognized me 15 years later has always been a mystery to me, though I was sporting my St. Joseph’s Academy blue shirt and knee highs, so she could have seen my burns peeking out.  But I knew that wasn’t it.  When you spend every day with someone for three intense months, you never forget and she didn’t.

Trying to find her today is a lot more art than science.  I called the hospital and they can’t give out any information on current or former employees due to privacy/confidentiality laws.  I don’t even know her last name.  She may not be alive.  I thought about taking out an ad in the local Green Bay newspaper but am not sure that would bear fruit — what would I say exactly?

My best shot right now is my high school friend Peggy who offered to help.  Her mom worked at St. Vincent’s for many years, though her memory isn’t what it used to be.  Peg’s going to ask her mom if she remembers the nurse named Maggie.

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8 Comments

  1. My name is Julie Conard Kofler. I am the youngest daughter of Maggie (the nurse who took care of you 40+ years ago) I have to tell you that not one day goes by since she passed away in 1988 that I don’t think about her & miss her. She laughed often and was truly loved by everyone she met. I strive to be the person she was (the best Nana in the whole world). I have 3 children Jessica(who emailed you yesterday), Jennifer & Nathan, 3 grandchildren of whom I can’t help but think about how much my mom who have loved & enjoyed them. To quote my son Nathan, “Our loved ones have a way of letting us know that they are still here with us, they never left to begin with.” What an absolute thrill it is to know my mom (who you described to a tee) will be written about in your book. We can still hear her laugh. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
    Sincerely,
    Julie Conard Kofler

    Reply

  2. Wow, you certainly are on the case Annie. I can’t wait for the book and of course the movie. What an amazing tale unveiing the pain, the hope, the triumphs and the challenges. I have a g ood feeling that news of Maggie will be surfacing soon.

    Reply

    1. Merry – these are the last details I can think of, which means I’m at the end of the line in terms of thinking of who else might be out there still and what other avenues might exist. If Maggie does surface — or if she does not — I will let my loyal readers know.

      Reply

  3. You have a picture of you leaving the hospital?? How interesting considering how your parent’s dealt with your accident. I hope you find Maggie again. She would be pleased to see how you’ve healed, inside and out.

    Reply

    1. Kris — yes, strange that there would be a picture isn’t it? But not much suprises me on this ole journey. I have a few other pictures that maybe I’ll post as well — you’ve given me a post idea!

      Reply

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