Postcard to Denmark.

My very loyal followers have all read this but I do want Maria in Denmark to read it. If you read one of her posts you will see why. You can read it again if you wish but otherwise go and make another cup of coffee.

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She Didn’t Want to be a Nurse.    Part One

She was young and she always knew she would become a nurse. In her town that was what a girl with brains did. Other girls got jobs in shops. The lucky ones married farmers or Stock and Station Agents. But she would be a nurse. Her mother was a nurse but she didn’t want to be a nurse. Around the dinner table at night the conversation never came up – it was just assumed and she just assumed it. Even if she didn’t like it.

One day she was left at home to make sure that the cows were let out into the bottom paddock just before sunset.

She went to her father’s workshop. Into forbidden territory. She crossed the yard and opened the door. The door wasn’t locked but it was taken for granted that she would never go there. She was a girl – the workshop was his world.

‘There’s a lot of valuable tools in there. I don’t want you muckin’ them up.’

There were! There were lots of tools. And machines.

‘Anyway there’s nothin’ in there for a girl to play with.’

But there was!

She had seen the boys in Metal Work class playing with a welder. She loved standing at the window and looking at the sparks fly. The boys all wore Darth Vader helmets so their eyes wouldn’t burn.

She turned on the welder and it started to hum. But she didn’t know what to do. Next day at school she asked one of the boys how it worked. She didn’t write it down – she just remembered it and stuck it all in a little box in her head. On Fridays the family went into town shopping. She and her two sisters always went but she started talking about staying home.

‘I’m old enough to stay on my own. And I can get dinner ready.’

That’s how it all started. Every Friday, as soon as they had gone she quickly prepared dinner and then went to her father’s shed.

‘Once you get the hang of it it’s dead easy,’ the boy had said. ‘But make sure you wear the goggles or whatever y’ Dad has or you’ll cook your eyes like a poached egg and you’ll go blind.’

She didn’t go blind. Around the back of the shed she found old pieces of steel from old machines. And she welded the pieces together. And some of the pieces looked like she wanted them to look.

Some of the pieces showed a movement or fluidity that she tried to express. But some just didn’t seem to work. She found the angle grinder and cut them up and tried again.

One piece really seemed to her to be a real work of art, but it wasn’t like the art that she was told about in school.

And every piece she took and hid in her room.

One day they came home early from town. She rushed into the house and set the dinner onto the stove. But she had left some welding on the welding bench.

‘What the hell is this?’ Her father shoved his way into her Saturday morning sleep.

‘What the hell is this welding shit on my bench? Have you been in there? Get up. Get dressed and tell me what the hell you been doing’.

When she had dressed she went into the kitchen and her mother had breakfast ready.

Her father came in and dropped her welding on the table.

‘Have you been muckin’ about in my shed? What the hell is this garbage? I thought I told you not to go in there. What’s a girl doing weldin’. It’s for boys not girls.’

She told him she wanted to weld things for her art class. Things that expressed the way she felt.

‘Well I don’t know how the hell I bloody feel about this other than to say that it looks like a pile of garbage.

So keep the hell out of my shed.

And get back to your studies. You wanna be a shop assistant all your life or a bloody nurse like all the decent girls in town. Your mum was a bloody nurse. It was good enough for her. What the hell you want?’

What she wanted didn’t really come into it. She was supposed to be a nurse like all the decent girls in town.

But she was cross.

The next morning, when her father and her mother were close enough to see she went to her father’s shed. She opened the door and picked up all the pieces of steel that she had welded. Everything that she had thought told a story. Everything. Every – bloody – thing that she had dreamed about that lay on her father’s shed floor.

And she picked it up. She picked it all up – everything.

And she walked to the dam and threw it all in and watched it splash and sink.

And she walked into the house and said nothing.

And she became a nurse.

I will post part two tomorrow.

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4 thoughts on “Postcard to Denmark.

  1. It really hurts not to be understood by your father. I have a friend whose life was nearly destroyed by her mother who would always press things on her that didn’t suit her. That would be certain clothes, playing the piano and also this that she should have studied nursing. She tried but failed and ended up marrying a man just to get away.

    Like

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