It was the Sherman family’s first Christmas in what we thought of as "Christmas Country." And, it was also my premier holiday season as a new nurse, working in my first hospital job in the Maternity Ward at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. We’d moved to Minnesota from sunny California the previous February, so I'd been introduced to midwestern winters and described myself as one of the few westerners who truly loved this frigid and snowy season.
I’d completed my several-month nursing orientation period and was at last functioning as a real Labor and Delivery / Newborn Nursery staff nurse. Feeling inspired, I’d volunteered to take a Christmas Day afternoon/evening shift, along with two other R.N.s; our staff of the three of us felt fairly confident we’d be able to throughly enjoy our 8-hour shift caring for our one new mother and her day-old infant. Each of us had brought snacking goodies to share while we put in our time.
As was the custom, the hospital dietary department prepared and served a lovely champagne and filet mignon dinner to all new mothers and their husbands (or significant others) about a day after their delivery. Our one resident young couple was anxious to partake in their romantic repast while we three nurses cared for their newborn, swaddled in a Christmas stocking and Santa hat, in the nurses lounge. The patient’s room, at the opposite end of the hall, was prepared with a small round dining table and chairs, spotless linen and a delicious romantic dinner for two. In the nurses lounge, television on, telephones transferred, Christmas snacks at hand, baby and we three nurses settled down for a relaxed chat session, such a nice way to pass the time while feeling a little smug about volunteering to leave our families to perform for the greater good for the holiday.
We’d been enjoying our leisure along with the sleeping babe for an hour or so, when the father came running to the lounge, where we’d told him we’d be, to breathlessly let us know, “There’s a little problem.”
I jumped up and quickly asked, “Is your wife okay?”
“Oh, yes,” said he. “But, the thing is that there’s a bat in her room!”
“A bat. And it’s flying all over the place! It scared the dickens out of us and we ran out into the hall, where my wife is right now. I closed the door so it wouldn’t get out.”
I have to say, that was a new one for all of us!
We immediately put in an unusual call to Engineering and were rewarded with three of them who arrived moments later, each carrying a long-handled broom, at the ready to eradicate the malevolent intruder. As a whole group of us stood by in the hall, the engineers, armed with their brooms, entered the room and swatted the ceiling and walls repeatedly, rat-a-tat-tat, until they’d dispatched with the unwanted Christmas visitor. In little more than a minute or two they exited with the remains packaged in a pillowcase, never more to rampage through our hospital. We sealed off the contaminated room, moved Mom into a new abode, sent for a new dinner and finally settled down once again for our nurses’ chat!
Epilogue: I’m not sure exactly how old Abbott Northwestern was when I worked there Christmas of 1976, but our unit was on the top floor directly below the attic. That’s probably how the little critter got into the warm patient room, and was trying to enjoy a respite from the cold Minnesota winter.