Red & White

DSCN1228These colors represent the uniform, or more to the point, the role of candy striper in its recognized presentation.

My sophomore year in high school served as my introduction to the strange and wonderful world of hospitals. It was a small community hospital that served my ambitions. Garden Grove, CA. I was thinking about the field of nursing. How to enter it without studying all those dreaded classes. I fulfilled my required hours, and then some. I was so happy to be doing something unique, exciting (yes, even in Garden Grove, CA) and productive. I ate it up. I traveled with flowers from the nurses’ station to a patient’s room on a weekly basis. I re-filled the water pitchers on the tables alongside a patient’s bed. I was given a tour of the limited pediatric ward. And a very solemn, and quick, tour of the room in which post-mortem assembly took place. None of it frightened me. I was in awe of this magnificent place that housed the sick, the revived, the infant and the elderly. Medical ward held the sickest; surgical, well, the surgeries. It was said that the mom of a well-known TV star, Michael Parks (the cute guy from Then Came Bronson!), was taking a room on the surgical floor. I kept waiting for him to arrive on a visit to his mom. He never surfaced.

That single, defining moment as a candy striper in 1971, met all my expectations, and then some. I was grown-up. Or, so I thought. Entrusted with responsibilities that entitled me a peek into the lives of people in pain and distress.

I have my uniform to this day. Packaged away in my closet. I take it out to admire every now and then. It no longer fits. The memories, however, are indelible. Red & White.

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