From our archives to your heart

St. Johns Hospital
February 18, 1959

St Johns hospital had a program called auxiliary nursing.  Auxiliary nurses were women who came to the hospital for free, for charity.  Their main job was to move food trays around, move TV’s around, do odds and end things.  They were lovingly known as “Candy Stripers” because of the red and white striped outfits they wore.

Hanna Bell drove into the hospital parking lot in her 1953 Chevy.  She was not what you would consider wealthy, but she took pride in her car.  She said it brought elegance and love wherever she went.  She got out of her car, had a cigarette in the parking lot, and went into the hospital and got to work.  She met Sister Mary Anthony and they stood around and talked a bit and then Sister Mary Anthony gave her the list.  The list consisted of the patients in the hospital who were the most depraved and down-trodden.

In the first few months that Hannah worked in the hospital, she did her normal duties, moving things around, helping out.  But after about a month word began to get around that the people she spoke to were all of a sudden feeling wonderful.  So after a few months, they let her stop doing those things and simply gave her a list of who to go talk to.  Sister Mary Anthony explained to her that the first person on the list, the top priority, was a real mean person and they just didn’t know what to do with him.  The doctor said he would be ok but he was sure he was going to die, he was really angry.  What happened was, when he came to his room the television was broken, they came in and tried to fix it but it wouldn’t work so they brought him another one.  They made sure it worked first, then about thirty minutes later that television stopped working.  They came in, tried to fix it, but to no avail.  They brought in a third television and saw it worked, then within an hour later that television was broken.  After all this, they just didn’t know what to do.  So Sister Mary Anthony said to Hannah, “Just see what you can do.”

So Hannah, thirty-seven-year-old mystical and frail-looking Piscean went in to talk to this guy, his name was Ray.  he walked in smiling, and the old cuss said, “What do you want?”

“Oh, I just thought I’d come in and check your television.”

“Well, it’s already been checked, and it’s broken.  Dammit.”

“Aren’t you from Spavonah?”


“I hang around Spavanah too, that’s where I go swimming.”

“In which lake?”

“Well, the one under the bridge at the entrance.”

“Yeah, I go there too.”

“That’s a wonderful place to live,” she said and began a conversation to get his mind off himself and into some beauty, and magic.  After a while, she said, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Well, doctors say I have cancer, and they say with one little operation I’ll be ok but I don’t’ believe them.  I don’t believe any damn thing those doctors say anymore.”

She knew not to try and talk him out of it so she asked, “What’s wrong with the television?”

“God damn it, every time they bring a television in here it’s broken.  They’ve given me three broken televisions.”

“All you need is a little faith,” Hannah said.  She turned it on and sure enough it was broken.  It was all fuzzy and she played with the buttons a little and then shut it off.  She said, “Look here, I’m going to fix this television.  With faith I’m going to lay my hands on this tv and when I’m finished this television going to be fixed.  You don’t believe me do you?”

“Hell no.”

So she shut her eyes, put her hand on the television, said her prayers and started laughing.  The room went still, the patient felt a little nervous in the stillness but he sort of felt at peace, but his mind was working a hundred miles an hour laughing at her thinking she was some freaky person.

Then she opened her eyes, turned on the television, and it started working.  Just one tiny movement of the knob and it was in perfect condition.  “See there, this television works.  And with faith, you’re gonna heal too, just like that.”  And she snapped her fingers and started dancing around the bed like a fairy princess.

“Aw, Doety, how’d you do that?”

“Oh, with faith, and love.  And that’s how you’re going to heal yourself.”  Then she started telling jokes and laughing around, just to keep him from thinking about himself.  She started talking about her personal life, told him how she was raising a kid and how she’d been through some stuff.

Then he said, “Well, I don’t believe in God.”

“That’s ok,” Hannah said, “do you believe in love?”

“Well I guess,” he said after he thought about it for a minute.

“That’s all you need,” she smiled.  “That’s all you need.”

“Well, why should I get well?” he asked.  “I’ll just get sick again and have to come back and then get sicker, why don’t I just check out now?”

“But life is a gift if you really look at it.  Like look at now, you have me hanging around you, dancing around.  Aren’t you having fun?”  He had to admit he was.

So she explained to him in her own way to accept the unexpected, allow for the unexpected.  Then finally through dancing and telling stories she had him in heaven and explained to him it doesn’t matter where you’re at.  She gave him a nice gentle kiss on the forehead and said, “Well, I have to go now.”

“Oh Doety don’t leave.”

“You just remember the love and remember this moment from now on.  Ok?”

“Well if you say so.”

“It’s for you too, remember, remember, remember.”







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