Mrs. Moore was my next door neighbor. She was a very suave older lady that wore fur and always smelt of the finest perfumes. She intrigued me. I imagined she was one of these ladies with 10 cats and maybe 5 ex-husbands! One day as I was leaving my home we crossed paths. She said “why hello dear” and I curtsied with “mam”. Come to think of it, I hope she didn’t take offense to my sudden bow! She asked me how I was and that she had been thinking of asking of inviting me over for tea and cucumber sandwiches. I said that I’d love that and we parted ways not thinking anything of it.
About a week later our paths crossed again and she said “so how about that cup of tea dear”, I said absolutely. We were both coming back from wherever we had been and to be honest I had a little bit of course work to do but I was avoiding it so I agreed to go to her house for tea. To be honest I was so intrigued that I was happy to put off my course work anyway and you never know she may even be happy to help. I was studying History with Journalism you see and well my neighbor looked like she knew history! So I told her I’d be over in half an hour.
I jumped in the shower, lathered my hair with my Tea Tree Shampoo, stood there for some time realizing I was about to have tea with a rather interesting person. For some reason I had this inner sense that she was going to help shape a part of my life in a way. We had only been neighbors for around six weeks but it’s like we had noticed each-other and knew that for some reason our paths were meant to cross. So I jumped out of the shower, threw on some clothes, put a paper and pen in my bag just encase (you could never take the Journalist out of me no matter how hard you tried!). I ran across to her house and she opened the door. “On time dear, that’s a good quality in one’s character she said”. I started to curtsy again but I managed to catch myself doing it and stopped half way through. I entered her mini palace and she guided me so eloquently to her dining room – not a cat insight by the way! We sat down and began to talk. After around 3 cups of tea and 5 sandwiches, 3 digestive biscuits and a taste of her homemade marmalade she started to tell me more about her life. It turns out she had been a nurse in WW2. She had only been 22 when she joined the Military nursing staff.
She continued to tell me that she was very much involved in the turmoil at Pearl Harbor in 1941. She told me that her and her co-workers worked under tremendous pressure during the aftermath of the morning’s raids. She told me she was serving at one of three Army Medical Facilities in Hawaii that ‘infamous’ December morning.
She told me she worked side by side with other civilian nurses and doctors for days on end. She said it was a “mad-house” – to quote her exact words.
I would regularly visit for tea and cucumber sandwiches and she would tell me tea leaf by tea leaf of her tales. She was so interesting and still so alive. So unaffected it seemed on the outside by what she had gone through with her very own eyes but I knew and could tell after many sittings with her that it had wounded her too. Not like the soldiers she was trying to help save – some of which had fallen and some in which she was able to help rescue. She told me she had received the Bronze Star for her service and part in helping to save lives. She told me that she didn’t want a Star that she had just wished she could have saved more lives.
I sat attentively and listened through many cups of tea. I asked her if it would be ok if I wrote a paper on her and she agreed. I asked her how she ended up being my neighbor, we while miles and years away from Hawaii 1941. She progressed to say that that was a whole other story for another time. So… to…be…continued… I guess!