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THE MATERNITY WARD



"You just can't follow the rules, can you young man?" yelled Captain Hubbard, my company commander.

I held my body at attention. I didn't have the slightest idea what to say back to him. In fact, I was totally confused by his statement.

Several months earlier, I was assigned to work at Bassett Army Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska. My main duties were to work on the ward, in the nursery and in the Delivery Room helping the doctors deliver babies. As far as I was concerned, there was no problem. I did my job and I did it well. Everyone appeared to like me.

"I do a good job, sir. I just try to make people feel good. I like to make them laugh. I don't see nothing wrong with that, sir," I said.

"People don't come to this hospital to listen to your antics. They come here to have their babies and then they want to return home," said Captain Hubbard.

"But people like to go where it's fun. They like to go where they feel good. People like it when you make them laugh. It makes them happy," I continued.

Well, that was the problem. Every day when I went to work on the Maternity Ward, I made my rounds to see which of the women had delivered their babies the night before. When they saw me walk through the door, some of them would laugh and yell out, "Stay away from me today, Roger,” shaking their finger at me. "I just had stitches and I don't want to laugh," they would say.

Sure enough, I would find a joke or something that would make them laugh. The entire ward would roll in laughter.

"You are such a good boy, Roger," many of them told me.

I was only 16 years old and one of my jobs was to care for the babies. When I brought the babies to their mothers, it was also part of my job to show them how to clean their breasts properly before feeding. Many of the women I had helped in the delivery of their child. That was a big responsibility, not to mention a very private thing for a boy my age. I was very proud and honored to be in such a position.

"Well, I see that this problem is going to be remedied only one way. Starting tomorrow, you will be transferred to the ambulance section. From now on, you will wax and shine the ambulances for the remainder of your tour. You got that young man?" said my company commander?

Again, I was 16 years old. All I ever wanted out of life was to make people laugh and to feel that I had a purpose and value. Even to this day, I can remember the looks on the women's faces when I walked onto the ward. They knew, without a doubt that someone, though only 16, cared about them and that I respected their dignity as women, wives and mothers. That was a good feeling.

It broke my heart to be transferred out of the OB Section. I have no memory of having a mother. I was raised in an orphanage almost my entire childhood. All I wanted out of my job was to make the mothers laugh and try to capture what I missed when I was a little boy. I guess I wanted to share in the ‘loving feelings’ that I saw being given to those special little babies.



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