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Florence Marie Fisher February 16, 2007

Posted by manthey in Manthey Life Mosaic, Professional Practice.
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I had a most thrilling experience today …

Some of you may remember that I dedicated my book, The Practice of Primary Nursing to a nurse named Florence Marie Fisher. Sometimes when I speak, I tell my own story about how I became a nurse and I always mention Florence Marie Fisher. I became ill at the age of 5 and was hospitalized for a month at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chicago. It was a traumatic experience in a couple of ways. First of all, my parents didn’t know how to prepare me, since they had never been hospitalized themselves. So they just said I was going to a large building. They left me there and visited occasionally. However, when one or the other came, a very painful procedure was done involving an intramuscular injection of their blood (horribly painful), so I felt not only abandoned but also frightened and confused by the pain associated with their visit.

Florence Marie Fisher is the name of a nurse who cared for me. She would sit by my bedside and color in my coloring book. For some reason, that translated to me to mean she “cared for me.” I decided right then that I wanted my life to be about that kind of caring, and from then on, I knew I would be a nurse. As a kid I often got doctor/nurse kits for Christmas, and I always threw away the doctor stuff. Only being a nurse was of any interest to me.

Forty years later I wrote the book on Primary Nursing. When I finished, the publisher asked me who I wanted to dedicate it to, and after a few minutes of thought I said Florence Marie Fisher. Although we had never communicated in any way after I left the hospital, I never forgot her name. And so the book was dedicated to her.

The publisher thought it would be really cool to find her, so they contacted the Illinois State Board of Nursing, whose records indicated she had moved to Indiana and that her last name was Ambrose. They then wrote to the Indiana Board to locate her, but there was no response to their request, and the search had come to an end.

It was earlier just today, when my search resumed. I was going through my papers in preparation for turning them over to the University of Minnesota Library Archives. I found copies of the publisher’s letters to the state boards and got to thinking about a way to search for Florence Marie Fisher that wasn’t available almost thirty years ago … the Internet.

Now for the thrilling part. I didn’t find her, but I found her son.

And I just finished talking to him.

As I was explaining my connection to his mother, I got choked up several times just realizing I was actually talking to Florence Marie Fisher’s son! He was just as thrilled to hear from me, as he had no idea of his mother’s impact on me. Out of nowhere he gets this call about the influence his mom had on me. She died in 1989, so I guess I was just meant to find him now not back in 1979 when I was writing my book.

He knew nothing of me, my work, or his mother’s connection to that work. It is a straight line for me. And as I told him about my work, the book dedicated to his Mom, the impact on nursing and patient care this work has had. He got just as choked up as I was.

The connection we had was extraordinary. I never thought I would find her, and I guess technically I didn’t, but talking to her son felt very close. And being able to tell her son about the tremendous impact she had on me was one of the high points of my life!

I am sending him one of the few remaining first edition hard copies of The Practice of Primary Nursing and the second edition, which is also dedicated to Florence Marie Fisher.