In Florence’s footsteps – the women who are lighting up lives

YourLifeChoices’ 91-year-old columnist Peter Leith used to tell us he was ‘half deaf and half blind’ but he has now passed beyond the ‘half’ mark. He is, however, indefatigable, and today writes about two wonderful carers.

Florence Nightingale, ‘the mother of modern nursing’, is reputed to have walked the hospital wards at night, a lighted lamp in her hand, during the Crimean War. To this day, she is often referred to as ‘the lady of the lamp’. She brought hope, solace and consolation to the sick, wounded or dying. And she added efficiency and organisation. This is my ode to two modern-day Florence Nightingales.

Having realised that he could do nothing more for my failing eyesight, my friend and local optometrist asked if he could refer me to a local support service for the ‘vision impaired’. Of course I accepted his suggestion.

That led to phone calls, appointments and then to visits from two wonderful women.  

Both were/are, calm, reassuring, softly spoken. Their level of ‘caring’ creates an aura around each of them that is palpable.

One drove 75 kilometres from Lismore to spend three hours with me. The other came from a mere 25 kilometres away and also spent several hours here.

The ‘lady-from-Lismore’ showed me how my computer could be modified and adjusted to allow me to continue writing (and reading) for a while longer. It was like being given a new lease of life.

The ‘more-local-lady’ quietly and painstakingly explored with me the range of options and equipment available that might make my mobility and daily life easier and less hazardous. Her patience and empathy was extraordinary.

Perhaps the most remarkable and astonishing, indeed wonderful, thing about both women is how they manage to keep up the positive, hopeful “you can do something about it” message when they know that everyone they speak with is on a one-way trip.

Hopefully, there will be someone to care for them and provide reassurance and hope when they are down.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith

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