Nurse’s long-lost keepsake at centre of mother-son story that spans six decades

May 17, 2017 | News

Margaret Brocking graduated from the St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1956. Margaret Brocking graduated from the St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1956.

The query emailed to St. Paul’s Hospital was signed by a professor of psychology at the University of Louisiana, Dr. Kilian Garvey.

Dr. Garvey’s mother, Margaret, who was born and raised in Vancouver, had graduated from the St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1956 and then moved to the United States. Mrs. Garvey had passed away in 1990; but during her final year she had been distressed by the loss of what her son knew had been a treasured keepsake, her St. Paul’s nursing pin.

For Dr. Garvey, the lost pin had always occupied a corner of his mind. For him, it was a symbol of a part of his mother’s life that he did not know—and never would.

“My mother did not talk much about her life in Canada,” says Dr. Garvey today, “but she loved being a nurse, it had meant a great deal to her, and she had always spoken fondly of her time at St. Paul’s. She was proud to have been trained there.”

Even though it had been 26 years since his mother’s passing, Dr. Garvey now found himself writing a letter to St. Paul’s. In it, he told the story of his mother’s lost pin and how much it had meant to her. He wondered if it might be possible to get a replica pin. Something to replace what had been lost.

“I had nothing more than the name St. Paul’s Hospital and a general email address,” says Dr. Garvey. “Many years had passed. All I could do was hope that whoever was on the other end might be able to help me.”

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