The Nurse

A frozen yogurt joint. I’ve just finished supper. My belt is tight from eating too much pizza.

There are too many yogurt flavors to choose from in this place. Triple Dark Peruvian Fudgesicle, Very Berry Quite Contrary, Oreo Delight, Midnight Mudpie in Mississippi—shut my mouth. Of course, the Orange Julius flavor doesn’t taste too shabby, either.

Then again, artificial orange doesn’t always set well with me. When I was a boy, the doctor gassed me with orange-flavored laughing gas just before tonsil surgery.

All I remember after that is hearing nurses play Righteous Brothers music through a transistor radio while I breathed in orange fumes. Ever since then I have detested Sunkist, orange-flavored bubble gum, and I can’t hear “Unchained Melody” without breaking into a nervous sweat.

So I’m sampling yogurt flavors, and that’s when I see her. She’s twelve, maybe thirteen. She’s with her family. She is small, with red hair. I have a soft spot for redheads since God accidentally made me one.

The girl is feeding her little brother with a spoon. The boy has a cast on one arm and a sling on the other.

“He fell,” the boy’s father explains. “He was climbing our gutter on the porch.”

“The gutter?” I say.

“The gutter.”

He broke one arm and injured his other shoulder. No sooner had he hit the ground than his twelve-year-old sister came running to the rescue. And as the story goes: she carried her brother indoors, over her shoulder. Big Sister has been caring for Little Brother ever since.

“I love taking care of people,” the girl tells me. “I’m gonna be a nurse one day.”

The girl’s mother says that her daughter has always wanted to be a nurse, from Day One. And earlier this year, before Little Brother attempted his solo flight across the Atlantic, the girl actually got her chance to be a real nurse.

It happened when her grandfather was diagnosed with skin cancer. After his invasive surgery, recovery was slow. So, the girl volunteered to live with her grandfather. That meant no hanging out with friends, no sleepovers, no going out for movies or frozen yogurt. It was months of caregiving.

When I ask the girl about it, she only shrugs and says:

“Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do.”

She changed Grandad’s bandages, cooked his breakfasts, fixed his lunches, dusted his furniture, and even mowed his lawn.

“That’s when we realized she was special,” says her father. “She came home one day, saying, ‘Dad, I think I wanna be a nurse.’ And I was like, ‘A what? Who is this small adult, and where’d she come from?’”

And that brings us to the aforementioned incident, when her little brother tested the weight-bearing capabilities of residential gutter, only weeks ago. Due to his accident, the girl is a nurse once again.

So tonight, I’m watching this girl feed her little brother one mouthful at at time, pausing to dab his chin, or tell a joke, or keep him happy. She is trying to maintain his good spirits, to increase his caloric intake, and to boost morale.

Her brother will make a full recovery, of course, and one day he might even take up rockwall climbing or professional gutter repair. But until then, he has Big Sister.

And I think that’s swell.

When it’s my turn to order some yogurt, I ask for yogurt-flavor advice from the girl. Sadly, she’s too preoccupied with Little Brother to hear me. So I ask Junior himself which flavor he recommends.

“Get the orange,” says the the boy. “That’s my favorite.”

Orange it is. Although I can hardly stomach it.

The family finishes their yogurt cups. They leave. They walk through the parking lot. I see them beneath the glow of the street lamp, everyone holding onto each other like the closing scenes of a “Love Boat” episode.

Sister wraps her arms around her brother and muscles him into a giant SUV. She buckles him into his seat. She kisses his face. I watch their tail lights disappear. I was going to write about something else tonight, but I’ve changed my mind.

Sometimes, a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do.


  1. Bev - September 16, 2021 7:43 am

    The world needs a few more Big Sisters like that.

  2. oldlibrariansshelf - September 16, 2021 8:27 am

    Every family needs at least one nurse.

  3. Beth Ann Chiles - September 16, 2021 10:49 am

    Awwww— I always wanted to be a nurse as well until I realized that I faint at the sight of blood. So I gave up that dream.😊

  4. Suellen - September 16, 2021 11:50 am

    Nurses aren’t made they’re born that way. At least all the good ones are. This one is indeed a special young lady.

  5. The Nurse – Oi! - September 16, 2021 11:52 am

    […] The Nurse […]

  6. Debbie g - September 16, 2021 12:46 pm

    What sweet tears for this family. And I want her for my nurse someday. What a blessing. God said when she was born. You will be a nurse How blessed we all are. Love you Sean and love to all of us

  7. Shelton A. - September 16, 2021 1:11 pm

    My daughter started college wanting to be a nurse in pediatric oncology and that’s what she is doing. How she does it, I don’t know but I’m thankful she’s there for the kids. She has sunshine for a personality.

  8. dapeek43 - September 16, 2021 1:20 pm

    Such a heart warming story. I wish my daughter would of cared for her brother that way. You always start my day on a high note!

  9. Paul McCutchen - September 16, 2021 1:39 pm

    Good nurses are always needed, Great nurses are also needed but sadly they both are few and far between.

  10. Nancy Crews - September 16, 2021 2:11 pm

    ❤your writing! Thankful for nurses. One of my granddaughters is a nurse. Another granddaughter is studying to be a nurse. I also have a niece who is a nurse. All wonderful people.

  11. Helen De Prima - September 16, 2021 2:33 pm

    People-watching is an essential skill for a writer.

  12. Cathy - September 16, 2021 2:50 pm

    I think that nurses need more thanks and recognition than ever before. The last two years have been horrific for all those in the medical field and I can’t imagine what they carry on their shoulders and hearts after a long shift. I am the proud grandmother of a young nurse in Atlanta. She is at Emory and has always been a natural caretaker. I pray for her strength every day. It all started with her younger brother. She was like another mother and that is why when she announced her career path, I knew God had chosen her to be a nurse a long time ago. It takes a special person and I salute all of them bc many have had to deal with COVID patients. Some who made it and some who did not. God bless them all❤️🙏🏻

  13. Leigh Amiot - September 16, 2021 3:24 pm

    Daughter of a nurse, sister of a nurse, mother-in-love to two nurses, blessed woman I am! Not a nurse by profession, but have done my share of caregiving. I’m in awe of what this young girl did for her grandfather…she definitely sounds like nurse material!

  14. Linda Thacker - September 16, 2021 3:27 pm

    I love this story. Being 2 years older than my (first) brother, I instinctively felt I needed to watch out for him. Although as a child I did not think I would become a nurse, but I did … and I am. Thank you for this heartwarming story.

  15. Linda Moon - September 16, 2021 4:13 pm

    I love too much pizza. Frozen yogurt is good but doesn’t measure up to my love of pizza that results in loosening of belts or buttons. If boys shouldn’t climb up to front porch gutters, neither should older guys…specifically, mine. That’s an accident waiting to happen, I fear. But…God does not make accidents, so all His redheads are meant to be. That’s pretty swell, too.

  16. Tom Wallin - September 16, 2021 5:08 pm

    Great Story!

  17. Karen Snyder - September 16, 2021 5:10 pm

    🧡🧡🧡 Nurses, generally, are some of the most exceptional members of our species.

  18. Willie37 - September 16, 2021 5:32 pm


  19. Anita Smith - September 16, 2021 7:04 pm

    So precious. Sean, you always touch my heart. What a gift you have.

  20. Deanna - September 16, 2021 9:33 pm

    I have been a nurse for 36 years, but did not realize that I wanted to be a nurse until the age of 32. When I walked onto the unit for the very first time, as a nursing student, I knew that I had found my niche.Going to nursing school was both the hardest and best thing I have done. I retired 4 years ago and I miss it to this day.This young lady will be a wonderful nurse.

  21. Cheri Johnston - September 16, 2021 9:38 pm

    Love these stories! Props to parents for raising one special girl & 1 wannabe acrobat. I’m confused though….I thought you work from home, but you seem to travel a lot!

  22. gwenthinks - September 17, 2021 12:26 am

    Heartwarming! We need kindness like this nowadays!

  23. Larry J Wall - September 17, 2021 9:49 pm

    Nurses! Here is to them, every last, loving one of them. Young or old; female or male. We, the rest of the world, would be in pretty bad shape without them. Being an older guy, nearly 75, I have had some good amount of exposure to them and I always appreciate them. Even the less than kind ones.:-) And, I have a very large extended family that happens to be full of nurses and therapists. They all do their jobs with much love and passion. I am very proud of each and every one of them and the job they do.

  24. RHONDA - September 18, 2021 9:44 am


  25. Michelle Schneider - September 28, 2021 2:04 pm

    I am the oldest on my family and spent the majority of my younger years always helping my younger siblings if they had any issues. I remember when I was like 5 or 6 and my younger sister who was about 4 said she sick so I grabbed the baby aspirin and gave her some, thankfully she was okay. My first sibling from my mom’s second marriage was born when I was 10. My mom and stepdad stopped by our house and dropped him off on the way to the corner bar their second home. This same brother hit rock bottom this summer and now lives with me. I have many stories surrounding each one of my 5 siblings but I will just sit here and smile as I cherish those memories. By the way I have been a nurse for over 20 years, happily providing whatever my patients need to help them feel better.🌡💊💉
    Thanks for reading my comment, hope you can relate. 👼🏼

  26. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - April 24, 2022 7:23 pm


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