By Mary Jane Nealon
For Mary Jane Nealon, she knew her entire life that she was meant to serve others. Her role models were saints, and those who could be saints: nurses, such as Clara Barton. She read the biographies of truly admirable women, mostly saints and nurses that she would strive to be like.
Mary Jane follows her dream into nursing school. There, her dream takes on a new and very personal meaning. Her younger brother becomes seriously ill with cancer. When she loses him to the disease, she finds healing for herself in her nursing career and in poetry.
Poets have used this medium for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Poetry can put feelings into words helping to sort out feelings and events in one’s life. It is cathartic and healing.
Writing poetry helped Mary Jane in her healing and coming to terms with issues, and it honed her skills as a writer. She brings her poetic sensitivity to her memoir. Here she speaks of some of her experiences as a nurse in many difficult, even desperate situations. She works for some time as a medical flight nurse. Later she works men’s homeless shelters, and the first AIDS ward in New York City.
This is a remarkable book, beginning with a title that is appropriate and poetic. I don’t know if she will achieve saint status, but I know some nurses should. Mary Jane Nealon may be one of them.