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The Ideal Temperament

I had an aunt, Doris Morley, who was a nurse, and a great aunt, Rose Mary Ann Morley, who was a midwife. Doris was born in Nottingham in 1904 and was a lovely lady who was kind and gentle, yet sensible and practical. In fact the ideal temperament to become a nurse.

Sometime around 1920 she went to London for her nurse’s training and soon became very highly thought of, rising to the position of nursing sister quite quickly. News of her ability and wonderful temperament must have reached outside the hospital, because members of the nobility were soon vying for her services to nurse their ageing parents etc.

}In 1939, one of these appointments led to her returning to Nottinghamshire to nurse the ailing parents-in-law of a group captain who was about to go to war. Sadly he was killed, but his daughter was born in London shortly afterwards. It was whilst nursing this couple and acting as the nanny to their granddaughter when she came to visit, that she met her future husband, who was farming nearby.

His name was Waddingham and they married on 7th June 1941. Reluctantly, Aunt Doris decided to remain as Nurse Morley when working, as her husband’s sister had been hanged in 1936 for murdering two elderly ladies in the nursing home which she owned. Although this lady was not a qualified nurse she always called herself ‘Nurse Dorothea Waddingham’ and my aunt didn’t want anyone to immediately think of Dorothea if she had called herself Nurse Waddingham.

After her marriage, Aunt Doris gave up nursing to become a farmer’s wife, but still used to invite various disabled friends whom she had met through her nursing, as well as the group captain’s daughter to visit her for holidays. She was as able in her new role as she had been as a nurse. She became a wonderful cook, homemaker and milkmaid, and I still remember warmly my long summer days on the farm, haymaking, milking and driving the tractor, and then going back to the farmhouse for wonderful meals and cakes.

In 1961, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and never recovered consciousness after the operation. She was a wonderful lady who was very much missed by everyone.

Perhaps it was her own aunt, Rose Mary Ann Morley, who inspired her to work as nurse. Rose was born in 1878, also in Nottingham, and qualified to work as a midwife, which she continued for the rest of her working life. She delivered over 1,000 babies in her career and was presented with a medal for her services to midwifery. Many of the babies which she delivered visited her in later years and told her how grateful their mothers had been for her kind and gentle treatment of them during pregnancy and labour.

She was very frugal and bought a large detached bungalow outright with sovereigns which she had saved from her earnings. She had married in 1896 but unfortunately was never blessed with children of her own. Her husband was very unkind to her and after he died she never remarried. In later life she used to spend Sundays with my parents, and I remember her for her wonderful sense of humour. She had become very deaf and her misunderstanding of what was being said was a great source of amusement to her, as well as to us. She died when she was in her 90s.

Chrissie Smiff

© Chrissie Smiff 2009


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