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March 27, 2020
Today is my Mother-in-law’s Birthday 🎂
Ethel and her two sisters, Audrey and Anne (in this order), were the first which welcomed me with open arms and open hearts, ♥️ without hesitation or reservation; without judgement. Some believe your marry a family when you marry someone (my wife, Susan Meech Hayden), in it. But there was also my father-in-law, an uncle, three step-sons, their wives, their 7 children and cousins and other kindreds. Marrying any woman is work enough and then there is work with all she is kindred to. Few men are ever good enough for a mother’s and father’s daughter. Multiply this many times, if you marry a divorced woman with children! But, call it Kingly or Queenly kindness, Mom and her two sisters (my aunts), graciously accepted me the first time I met them. And I liked all three of them, the first time I met each of them. Now unless you think this is about me or three sisters, it is not. But it is about a similar trait that all three shared and this merely is my observations of the qualities of one in particular.
Ethel Lovatt Meech, is my mother-in-law, to which I have long dispensed with the factual and formal title and just call her Mom. Blood not, but not any less is she to me, than my birth mother.
Her husband Henry, “Bud” Meech, my father-in-law called her “Lovie”. She was indeed, a loving 🥰 sister, a loving 🥰 wife, a loving 🥰 mother, a loving 🥰 aunt, a loving 🥰 cousin, a loving 🥰 grandmother, a loving 🥰 great grandmother and a loving 🥰 friend!
Our only granddaughter Leona, and one nephew Chase, both have ‘Lovatt’ as their middle name.
Mom was a proper Lady. She was often quiet and a good listener. But she was an exceptional conversationalist too, poignant, sharp and smart.
She also had a fun and funny side too. Both her two true children could tell you about her burgundy red convertible 67′ mustang she loved to drive.
Her comedic timing was often unexpected, but greatly appreciated. I would’ve loved to have been at the dinner table when her husband Bud asked her to throw him a pickle and she tossed it into the air! I remember standing next to her and my wife Susan, was on her other side at the funeral home. We were there to say goodbye to her husband, the father of her children, “Bud” Henry Meech. The grandchildren called her, ‘Grandma Sweetie Pie’. Yes, she was a sweetie, made great pie and was a wonderful cook. But there we were and it was a solemn moment, for all in saying goodbye, as we drew near to see him and pay our respects and begin the grieving process. Mom looked on her husband and friend and just quietly said, “The shell is still here, but the nut is gone.”
I would have loved to have been a fly in the car when she and dad were in the front seats (Dad was driving) and it was the first time she met his mom and grandmother. They were all singing songs and then there was a sudden quiet. To break the ice and cut through the edginess, Mom broke out singing, ‘Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall’. If that’s not funny enough for you, unbeknownst to Ethel, her newly met grandmother-in-law just happened to be the wife of a Methodist minister and her new mother-in-law was aligned with The Women’s Temperance Movement that opposed the consumption of alcohol. 🍹 🍸 🍺 🍷 🤣🤣🤣
But to me, the greatest thing my Mom had been was a career registered nurse. And that fact does not even begin to tell the story. I have met a few famous people in my life and had my heroes and heroines, But never in my wildest dreams, could I ever have imagined, marrying into a family with one hero and one heroine, married to each other. Their family became my family!
But Ethel was not only a registered nurse, oh no, a million times no! She was a proud and lifelong member of, The United States Nurse Cadet Corps.
The United States Cadet Nurse Corps (CNC), was authorized by the U.S. Congress and signed into law as a nondiscriminatory program, in July 1943. Its purpose was to help alleviate the nursing shortage that existed during World War II. The United States Public Health Service (USPHS), was named the supervisory agency; it was answerable to, the Surgeon General of the United States.
Its origins can be traced to the establishment in 1798, of a system of marine hospitals. In 1870, these were consolidated into the Marine Hospital Service, and the position of Surgeon General, first began.
The program was formed, July 1st, 1943 and was dissolved, December 31st, 1948.
The program was open to all women between the ages of 17 and 35 who were in good health and had graduated from an accredited high school.
All state nursing schools in the U.S. were eligible to participate in the program; they were, however, required to be accredited by the accrediting agency in their state and be connected with a hospital that had been approved by the American College of Surgeons. The participating schools of nursing were required to compress the traditional 36-month nursing program into 30 months and were obligated to provide the students with the clinical experiences of medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics.
Ethel was an operating room and surgery nurse, for the better part of her career in nursing.
This was an incredible opportunity for women, for financial independence and a lifetime career, no matter the economic situation or societal woes that may befall a nation. If you were a nurse and even today, you always have a job. All of these things appealed to young women which before, may have had little to no opportunity to improve the quality of their lives. The uniforms, stockings, lapel pins, a particular shade of ruby red lipstick, and berets were highly attractive to many. If you were a nurse, a Cadet Nurse, you were in essence, a fashionista!
There was a lot of prestige being a Cadet Nurse. You were not just anybody or just a woman, you were often gorgeous, highly intelligent, professional, highly trained, in high demand and were often viewed like rock stars of the times. Many women longed to be a Cadet Nurses and along with all these characteristics and compassion for others and the faithful dedication, many men fervently desired to date a Cadet Nurse, kiss one and with an ultimate hope of marrying one!
Beyond these things, Cadet Nurses were honored to serve their country as the country was honored by their presence. They filled great voids in this country, when so much of the medical field were on the front lines overseas. But no matter where a Nurse Cadet served, she was also on the front lines and among the ‘first responders’. They did not only give life giving aid and literally saved many a life, they often wrote letters for their patients, read to them, talked to them, comforted them, and kept vigil the whole dark night of their patients’s souls. They were heroes and heroines each one, and often your trusted confidant and best friend! Doctors could never, and cannot ever, survive for any length of time without them! And the greatest medical people in the world are in the USA! 🇺🇸 The quality of the entire medical industry that we enjoy today, are the direct results of The Nurse Cadet Corps that forged it in fire, 🔥 on the front lines, of the front lines of, human trauma and tragedy, crisis and redemption, by what many think on as the ‘angels of grace and mercy!
My mother-in-law, Ethel Lovatt Meech, my adopted mom, was a pioneer on a love frontier. And she is my heroine!
She knew her grandson Jonathan was following, in her footsteps and she spoke of him often fondly and beamed with pride. He wanted her to be the one that pinned him when he graduated from nursing school, but sadly, she passed before. But he did graduate, is a husband, a father of three boys, and a NICU nurse (neonatal Specialist), but he is also studying and soon to graduate, as a Nurse Practitioner. I know she would be (is), so very proud of him as he like her, in our current World War against the Covid19 virus, is on the front lines of the front lines!
Jonathan was there and Susan and I were there when Mom took her last breath. I have no other way to say this than, it was a beautiful death. She was surrounded by people that loved her and that she loved and she quietly closed her eyes and went to sleep. She was draped with a quilt that was given to her by a Nurse who had also served in the military. The quilt has an American flag woven design. We still have this. It was just a token of a grateful country, for her service!
We now live in the same home that she and my father-in-law lived in, from 1973 until they passed. We inherited a simple little kitchen timer that runs off of batteries. It is just inside one of the cabinets in our kitchen. For some unknown reasons and at different times, when either of us walk by the cabinet, the alarm inside starts dinging. We always think it’s Mom trying to say something and we always say, “Hi Mom,” and then shut the alarm off. And today is, your birthday! Your your daughter Susan, is making a cake for you, to celebrate you today and for as long as we still draw breath.
I don’t know if I ever said this to you, but like the line from a favorite song of mine, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” 🥰❤️
(Because you made me yours)
Faithful ever to my country, to the Corps, my sacred trust,
Grant that I may follow wisely, all the guidance offered me.
Give me kindness, grant me patience,
That I may not fail this noble challenge to heal the suffering ones.
Help me to ally the sorrowing in a world torn by strife,
May I hold the lamp of nursing in the sprit of the Corps,
Give me strength, and grant me knowledge,
To pursue my chosen way with courage to heal the suffering ones.
Now I dedicate my service, pledge myself and all I am,
Thus to make of life a triumph, over sorrow over death,
Give me pride in my endeavor
In the service of my Corps, o grant that I may heal the suffering ones
The cadet hymn was composed by the director of music at Mt. Vernon Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. and the words were written by a member of the Division of Nursing Education of the USPHS. It was released in 1945 on the second anniversary of the CNC