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.