My Mother and Injured Animals

My mother was a nurse.  She was trained at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.  She graduated in the mid 1930s.   Throughout her life, mom used her nursing skills to care for Hank, John and me.  I can’t tell you the number of professionally bandaged cuts and bruises we had through the years.  But it was a blessing to us.  From the time Hank jabbed a pencil lead into John’s hand, to when I caught my bare toe in the chain of my first bicycle, Mom was there to be our nurse.

Kathleen Patricia Smith Moore (7/3/1913 - 4/10/2008)

Mom’s compassion for living things went beyond her children.  She was a nurse to every creature that flew, walked, crawled, wriggled and slithered on to our property at the corner of Sirrine and Stillwell Roads.

This is how it would play out:

One of us would find a bird or a mouse or a frog that had been injured.  We would bring it home to mom and the nursing would begin.  A box would be prepared to hold the critter.  Sometimes a lamp would be used to keep it warm.  There might be eye droppers for feeding, sometimes splints to immobilize injured limbs.  And then, after a variable length of time:  sometimes hours, sometimes days, the patient would die.

Death was the common denominator in all of Mom’s attempts to heal the animals.

It seemed that we were cursed:  some sort of perverse Midas’ touch or kiss of death.  Animal after animal, large and small, succumbed to its injuries.

Of course, just the trauma of being with humans was enough to “do in” most of the wild animals we treated.  And of course, none of us, even mom, was trained in the finer arts of veterinary medicine.

One day, we found a bird.  I don’t remember why it had an injured wing.  Perhaps it tried to fly through one of our windows.  Mom prepared the animal hospital box, the light bulb, the eye dropper, the splint and the gauze bandage.  She gently placed the bird in the box and gave it her undivided care.

I don’t remember how long she nursed that bird.  I think it was a few days.

And you know what happened? 

The bird got better and it flew away.

It actually lived!

After a long line of dead patients, one survived our attempts to help it.

And mom rejoiced that day.  We all rejoiced. 

Watching the bird climb into the sky on its mended wing, made us feel like we had been part of something good.  A success.

Our lesson was in seeing the goodness of the nurse’s heart, as mom gave of herself for the sake of another.  Even a bird.

But, one survivor out of God-knows-how-many wild critters wasn’t bad either.

Written by Dan Moore, son of Kathleen Patricia Smith Moore, 4/17/08

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