My mother, Carol Ann (Killian) Desroches, RN graduated from St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1969 (school was in operation from 1884 to 1975).
In searching for a museum on line to preserve my mother nurse’s cape, I found the Museum of Nursing History.
I liked that the museum was conceived by and run by nurses, so I wanted to offer her nurse’s cape* and other items to its permanent collection so my mother would be remembered for a profession she so loved. It was also reassuring that the museum was affiliated with LaSalle University with its organizational stability and resources.
My mother worked in labor and delivery at Morton Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts upon graduation, and died in 1990 at the age of 41 from breast cancer when I was 15. I always knew my mother loved being a nurse, but at that young age, I just knew she “delivered babies.”
At her funeral, and for months thereafter, my family received many cards and letters testifying to what an incredible nurse she was. One woman approached me and said, “Your mother saved my granddaughter’s life.”
A fellow nurse wrote and told a story of how my mother counseled a young woman who had a baby born with Down’s Syndrome. The new mother didn’t want to hold her baby, so my mother shared personal stories about her sister with Down’s. The woman eventually accepted her baby and later came back to the hospital in tears to thank my mother for her compassion and caring.
Now my mother’s cape has a good home where it will help tell the story of nursing in America.
By Steve Desroches, Provincetown, Massachusetts
*The cape: Dark navy blue wool with St Luke’s Hospital’s initials on the collar (SLH) and Carol Ann’s initials (CAK) on the tag inside the cape.