Thin Pink Lines

6 March 2013

Thin Pink Lines: My Life as a Nurse & Beyond
by Muriel A. Jarvis and Mary E. Vandergoot
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Keith Foster
$19.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-73-6

Patience pays big dividends, perhaps not all at once, but slowly over time. Muriel Jarvis relates how her patience and persistence paid off in her book, Thin Pink Lines: My Life as a Nurse & Beyond.

Nominated for a 2013 Saskatchewan Book Award for non-fiction, the book is written by Mary Vandergoot, based on interviews and conversations with Muriel. Vandergoot writes in the first person, as though Muriel herself is telling the story of her life and accomplishments.

Growing up in Kenaston, SK was a quick and brutal learning experience for Muriel, but she applied those life lessons throughout her career as a nurse. Her father died when she was only six and a half, and she had to help her mother, who was then only 26, raise her four younger siblings.

A turning point in Muriel’s young life was when she assisted her mother in the birth of a child. She decided then that she wanted to become a nurse. The thin pink lines refer to the long line of nurses in pink uniforms graduating from nursing school.

Muriel shares moments of great sadness in her life. To earn money to attend nursing school, she worked as a live-in nanny in Saskatoon. Not only was this her first time away from home but the family didn’t even invite her to join them for Christmas. While the children, whom she cared for all day, opened presents in the living room, Muriel sat alone in the kitchen.

Muriel’s life spanned the Great Depression and both world wars. Through her own illness, she developed a strong empathy for patients. Since there was no guidebook for long-term care, Muriel pioneered new ideas to care for the elderly.

The 229-page book comes with a chronology, endnotes, bibliography, index, nearly 100 black and white photos, and a two-page list of Muriel’s awards, including the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal and the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.

Muriel’s patience and persistence resulted in subtle changes that, over time, transformed the province and made Saskatchewan a better, more caring place.


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