CYNTHIA BRADFORD R.N.
A short story-by Carol Amaral
Ever since she was a little girl, Cynthia wanted to become a nurse. In the summer
of 1941 she graduated from the Stanford School of Nursing with honors. Before she
looked for work, she decided to visit her Aunt Barbara in England over the Thanksgiving holiday. After a brief visit with her Aunt Barbara they decided to take a side trip to France and she wanted her aunt to experience it with her. Cynthia took her Aunt
Barbara to a small restaurant, that she had read about in a brochure. They walked by the French bakeries where the smell of fresh baked french bread was heavenly. A little further down the sidewalk, they passed several wineries, where again the smell of wine was heavenly. They knew after lunch, they would have to patronize these stores.
They were about to enter the restaurant, when they noticed everyone was scurrying
about. Cynthia stopped a woman on the street and asked why everyone was in such a
hurry. “Haven’t you heard? Pearl Harbor was bombed this morning.” Cynthia’s heart sank to her knees. Cynthia sent her Aunt Barbara back to England, and became a
volunteer nurse at the French hospital.
When she entered the ward where the wounded soldiers lay, she was surprised to see so many young soldiers. As soon as she walked into the room, she heard a young soldier call out to her, “Nurse, can ya’all come here?” She learned he was from Oklahoma and saw his badly mangled leg. “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my leg.” She changed the bandages and reassured him everything was going to be alright. She prayed for him and sang “Amazing Grace.” In a few minutes he was sound asleep, his name was Billy Joe Hopkins and he was only nineteen years of age. When she finished singing to Billy Joe, she heard another young man call out to her, an African-American man was in tears, “Can you look at my arm and tell me if I’m going to lose it?” She looked at his arm, and assured him if he kept the wound clean, he would be alright. She asked him his name and where he was from, and he answered,” Jamal Jones, and I’m from Louisiana, and I’m twenty years old. ” Cynthia then asked him what kind of music he liked. Jamal smiled and said “Gospel.” so she knew the perfect song for him, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” He thanked her and then fell asleep while mouthing the words with her.
Cynthia was so engrossed in taking care of her patients, she failed to notice a very
handsome man entering the room, and bumped right into him. He had to find out where that beautiful singing voice was coming from. The man in a french accent, smiled and said “Hello there, I’m Doctor Pierre LaMont.”
“Pleased to meet you, I’m Cynthia Bradford R.N., sorry about bumping into you.”
Before they could finish their conversation, two soldiers barged in, they looked
around and noticed Cynthia’s nursing badge and said “Come with us.” She fearfully
and reluctantly went with them to protect the wounded soldiers. On her way out she
nodded to a Jewish soldier, he covered his head and did not move a muscle.
The soldiers put her in a jeep and took her to a makeshift hospital, then to a man in a room by himself. The soldiers told her this is our Commander and if she could nurse
him back to health, she would be brought back to the French hospital. The Commander
was in a coma and wounds all over his body. Cynthia automatically went through the routine of changing his bandages, then she started praying for him. “No praying,” said the soldier, so she started singing to him. “No singing either.” The soldier said again. So Cynthia did both silently.
She had no idea how long the Commander had been in a coma, but she knew it
was important to exercise his legs and arms.
After two weeks the Commander awoke, he took one look at Cynthia and said in his broken English: “Who is this?” He thought she was beautiful and should have been a model, instead of a nurse.
“I am your nurse and I have been taking care of you.” the Commander tried to get
out of bed, Cynthia helped him get to his feet. He wobbled for a few feet, then went back to bed. He was very weak, however his wounds were healing. The next two weeks
Cynthia was doing physical therapy on the Commander until he could walk without
wobbling. The soldier who kidnapped her. Came to her and said,” I promised if you brought my commander back to health, I would release you. There is a jeep waiting for you.” The Commander was sad to see her go, he thanked her and went back into his
tent. The soldiers returned her to the hospital as they had promised.
Upon her return to the hospital, Cynthia was disappointed to learn that Doctor Lamont was transferred to a different hospital. For the next two months she continued to take care of the wounded soldiers. When she learned she was being transferred. Little did she know it was to the same hospital Doctor LaMont had been transferred to.
One day while walking down the hall. She noticed a familiar person coming toward
her, it was Doctor LaMont! She was so exited to see him, she called out to him and he noticed her, he ran to her and swept her up into his arms. With tears in his eyes he said,
“I thought I would never see you again.”
Over the next year they worked side by side at the same hospital. When the war was over, they married and moved to the United States. Pierre was head of the surgery department at Stanford and Cynthia was head of the Nursing department.
The next few years, they had four children, I am the oldest. This story is about my mother Cynthia, I am named after her, you see her middle was Carol.
Carol Amaral is a local resident with an unusual story to tell. She and her sister were placed in foster care when she was only a few months old. When she was in her 40s, Carol was able to locate and meet her birth mother for the first time, a joyous experience. Carol’s ambition is to write about her journey in search of her bio mom, and, desiring to enhance her writing skills, she joined the Siskiyou Writers’ Club. Her story “How Crocheting Became a Connection to Her Late Mother,” was published in “Guideposts” Magazine, a national publication. That story can be found here: https://guideposts.org/angels-and-miracles/angels/how-crocheting-became-a-connection-to-her-late-mother/ . The present story, “Cynthia Bradford R.N.” is a work of fiction that Carol wrote for the Writers’ Club.