Margaret “Peggy” K. cherishes her time as a student at St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Wausau, Wis. “From the skeleton in anatomy lab, our dances and stage shows, to the wonderful staff and admirable students ahead of us, I don’t know where to begin,” Peggy says today.
St. Mary’s is where Peggy says she was blessed to meet the Sisters of the Divine Savior. One of her classmates is Salvatorian Sister Rachel Wallace, and they’ve attended reunions together. Peggy’s
freshman roommate was a hometown friend named Connie. “Our room was across the hall from nursing school director Sister Adelinda, but next door was the ‘Smoker.’ Lots of girls smoked so
it got quite loud and lively.”
Today, Peggy is hard pressed to name a favorite nursing instructor. “I really enjoyed them all, even if I was a little afraid of Sister De Lellis. She was a good teacher. Sister Paulette was usually quite jolly as she taught Nursing Arts, and I liked the way Sister Therese (sociology and psychology) walked. She just floated. Since I loved pediatrics, I thought Sister Mary Edward was special.
“As mid-year juniors, we were allowed to do special-duty nursing for polio victims who needed one-on-one care. I felt very comfortable with my lessons from Sister Leonita in that department.”
Peggy also recalls, “I found our psych training at Winnebago the most stressful. The only treatments back then were the drug Thorazine, and electric or insulin shock therapies. It was hard to see
kids my age going through that.”
Peggy practiced nursing for more than 55 years, with about seven years off when her children were small. When they reached school age, she worked in doctors’ offices so she could be home weekends
and holidays. When her youngest started high school, Peggy began working at a skilled nursing facility. She started as a floor nurse, then became assistant director of nursing and stayed for 26 years.
“I wanted to work ‘til I was 75,” Peggy says, “but left when I was 71. When our parish priest put me in touch with a sweet lady who lost her caregiver, I started caring for her.” Peggy’s home-care service grew, and at times, she cared for five or six patients.
“Now I just help three people. It isn’t skilled care, so two years ago I didn’t renew my license. That was hard after renewing for 59 years. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without my profession. I am ever so thankful for my nursing education.”
Peggy is grateful, too, for the sisters’ sacred trust of their Apostolate of Prayer Ministry. She says, “I pray for others, and find peace and comfort when others pray for me. I have depended on them to help me through many family crises. God is great and prayers are powerful.”