Fifty Years Ago, 1968 Christmas Eve, Much Ado About Nothing.
By Susan Mehr
“It was gone in a flash,” My attention draws to a tall, busty woman. Her hair pulled back tight in a bun, wearing or to better describe, a painted on white nurse’s uniform pretty much as short as mine said with a huff. She wore a silver badge with the hospital insignia and the name, ‘Matron Frances’ over her right bosom.
“Yes, Baby Jesus, kidnapped, again. No ransom letter, nothing. What is this world coming too?” an equally tall man wearing an unbuttoned white doctor’s coat said, his voice jingles with amusement while sipping a mug of strong coffee. My heart jumps into high gear when I notice the swell of his pectoral muscles cause his white silk shirt to shine. He stops, but the aroma of his coffee carries through the air.
A grin stretches over Nurse Gwen’s face, her eyes twinkle and tucks strands of her red curly hair behind her earlobe. “You have to be kidding me,” she said singing in a soft and womanly tone. “It’s the third time today. I placed Baby Jesus back in the manger only fifteen minutes ago. Those lovely darlings, the children take turns holding him. How adorable.”
“Baby Jesus, kidnapped?” My brow furrows, running through in my mind what’s said. It’s three thirty and an hour into my first early afternoon shift.
The Ward Clerk giggles, “must be the Macalister Sisters, their Grandparents picked them up ten minutes ago from the waiting room. That’s why they were so quiet, busy holding him too. Their mother is in room twenty.”
Nurse Gwen winks at me; her eyes hold a glint of humour. “Delvene, please let me introduce you to Matron Frances our Nurse Unit Manager and Doctor Clooney the Head of Obstetrics. Matron Frances, Doctor Clooney, Delvene. Straight out of Nurses College, it’s her first day in the Maternity Ward.”
“Christmas Eve, what a day to start. Welcome and please forgive me, two new Mothers are to arrive at any moment from the Delivery Suite. I promise to catch up with you later this evening. I’m sure Nurse Gwen will help you settle into the Maternity Ward. Please, Nurse Gwen, see to Baby Jesus! Thanks,” Matron Frances blurts as she rushes away.
“No problem,” Gwen replies.
Doctor Clooney extends his hand in friendship, “My dear, save the ‘Doctor Clooney’ to when we are beside the patient’s beds otherwise please call me George,” he said with a wink as his fingers grasp mine. “There’s a group of us gathering on the hospital’s roof after the shift tonight for a drink and a bite to eat. We’re celebrating the first hours of Christmas under the stars. May I have the pleasure of your company? My mate Ridley, Doctor Scott has his telescope set up to view Apollo eight’s orbit, maybe I can show you how to use the focus, it’s technical. Who knows we might even spot an alien or two.”
“Yes,” I reply. “Thank you, that’s nice,” pursing my lips I let go of George’s hand and watch his smile etch deeper.
“No. Thank you for agreeing to join me,” Dr. Clooney answers, then turns and begins to walk away. Serendipitous he stops and gives a suave glance back.
“Oow,” Wide eye Gwen squeaks.
I look away and blush.
“Here,” the Ward Clerk said as she hands over a second-hand plastic doll wrapped in a hospital towel. “Please place the replacement Baby Jesus in the manger before Matron Frances returns.”
My mouth opens’ and no words exit.
Nurse Gwen turns making her way to the nativity statues at the corner of the room mumbling out loud, “Don’t ask, please don’t ask why. You don’t understand how many Baby Jesus’s become victims to kidnapping tonight. It’s those little darlings, kidnappers in the making, on the other hand, ooo, how exciting, you, Dr. Clooney, Apollo eight, orbit.”