2020 Birthday Advice: Sister Darlene Pienschke

As Salvatorian Sisters continue to age in wisdom and grace in the year 2020, each shares advice to her 20-year-old self to celebrate her birthday.

As young as 4 or 5 years old, I dreamed of being a nurse. For Christmas, Santa brought me a Nurse’s Kit with a stethoscope, candy pills and even a nurse’s cap! My grandma lived with us until mom and dad needed to admit her to a nursing home for advanced cancer.

Late one afternoon dad got a telephone call. Grandma was declining! Dressed with a nursing cap and stethoscope around my neck, I went to see grandma. I was so small my head could barely see above the mattress, so the nurse lifted me up and set me next to grandma. “Listen to her heart,” she said. Seeing grandma so sick, I started to cry out loud, making a big fuss! With that mom asked the nurse to take me out into the hall.

At only 5 years old, I knew that if I could not hear my grandma’s heart, she would die. In that single moment,  I felt an overpowering sense of loss, and between sobs, I did not know how to express what I felt in my heart and soul. And, perhaps, in time, what it might mean to be a nurse.

If I could give advice to my 20 year old self, I’d say, “Hold tenderly the inexpressible experiences that touch your heart and enter your soul. Pursue your dream(s) courageously, allowing life itself to reveal how, and through whom, riches and love will be realized in the shear gift of serving others.”




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