By Lillian “Bucky” (Buchanan) Egan – West Vancouver, B.C.
I took the bus from our farm near Weirdale in north-central Saskatchewan on Aug. 15, 1940 and arrived at the Holy Family Hospital nurses residence.
Sister Rosarie met me saying, “Oh, we have a young boy in our midst.” Knowing she was referring to my favourite navy “whoopee” pants, I was embarrassed.
Soon after, we learned that Sister Rosarie was leaving and Sister Sympharosa was returning who the senior nurses told us was a barracuda. Naturally, we ‘probies’ were nervous around her.
I soon changed my mind. I once had Sister Sympharosa for a patient and she was lovely, putting me at ease.
When she asked me to wash her hair I was surprised she wasn’t bald, because I thought all sisters were bald because they had to cover their heads at that time.
Sad on Christmas morning
I grew to love many sisters – Agnes Patricia, Raymond, Aloysius, Mary Philip, and Sister Irene, who helped me with the valedictory address I was asked to read the night of graduation.
We weren’t permitted to go home for Christmas.
For Christmas Eve, 1942, my favourite classmate, Erva Jack, and I attended the service, along with others. We all adored Father Chartiez, the chaplain.
We were both homesick and crying on Christmas morning, when my boyfriend, Norman Egan, called.
He had come from the West Coast and was visiting his family in Bodmin, Sask. Sister Sympharosa had taken the call and knew I was upset.
Shirley Wright and I were on call in the case room and Sister came to our room on the second floor where we stayed when on call. I was crying and Sister asked me how long I had known Norman. I told her three years.
To my surprise, Sister, who had come from Debden, near Bodmin, said, “Miss Buchanan, you may take the afternoon bus and return in the morning.”
I could have hugged her! She made it possible for me to spend Christmas with Norm and his family.
He and I were secretly married on New Year’s Day 1943. He returned to the West Coast where I joined him in December.