Bill McQuarrie is back with a special edition of North Island Rising. Have some thoughts? Write a letter to the editor at and we will publish it online and in print.

Bill McQuarrie is back with a special edition of North Island Rising. Have some thoughts? Write a letter to the editor at and we will publish it online and in print.

An act of kindness goes a long way

‘This woman, this nurse so obviously cares and is so unlike the people I most often write about’

Sometimes when I write these columns, I feel like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The stories are often about humans doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. They are the people whose actions more often than not seem motivated by nothing more primitive, inhumane or vulgar than greed and sleazy self-interest.

So a few weeks ago when I witnessed an act of kindness and caring that rose above the crassness of 2020, I was reminded that the world we seemed to have lost this year is actually not lost. Perhaps hard to find at times but still here. Let me explain.

It happened a few weeks ago when an opening came up at the North Island Hospital Campbell River, for some needed repair work on my knee. It was a simple day surgery kind of thing where five or so hours after you arrive at the hospital, you are on your way home.

As I checked in early on the morning of my procedure, eagerly anticipating that stylish wrist bracelet, I noticed a mother with her young child also being processed through admitting. Other than thinking that both appeared calm and relaxed, I didn’t give them much more thought than that.

Little did I know we would again meet up a few hours later nor that those moments would give me hope that the world could survive 2020 better than I imagined possible.

Being first up to bat with my surgery meant I was the first in recovery and once awake, I was able to spend time watching a day surgery unit in action. It was all as it has been with previous knee adventures until a young child was wheeled out of the O.R. and over to a quiet corner in recovery.

It would turn out to be the same young child I had seen earlier in the morning and the tender gentleness of the transfer to recovery was something that would make the most jaded of us smile… which I did.

But then things began to change as a nurse, possibly the charge nurse for the unit, pulled a chair up to the bedside of the young patient, sat down beside the bed and simply watched and waited. Waited for the effects of the anaesthetic to begin wearing off. Waited for the first flutter of eyes opening. Waited and waited some more, so that the very first thing this child would see was a real person, likely the same one this young patient saw on the way into surgery.

It was obvious this nurse was determined to insure her young charge would not be alone, so there was no multitasking and no distracting diversions. There was simply a patient needing her and I imagined there had been a promise made to be there when the anaesthetic first wore off.

Now the cynical will say that this is what nurses and medical staff are supposed to do. It is what they are paid to do and it’s no big deal.

But it is a big deal because what I saw was more than a well-trained and experienced nurse simply caring for her patient. This one was caring about her patient and there is a difference in those two terms.

I saw a nurse doing what I think she must have originally dreamt nursing was about. She did it quietly, professionally and without any expectation of recognition.

Except maybe from a young child who saw someone keep her promise to be there when it mattered most.

This woman, this nurse so obviously cares and is so unlike the people I most often write about.

She is not looking for re-election or the power of office.

She is not manipulating facts to fit her ambitions. She is not pretending to be something or be somebody she is not. She is instead, someone quietly trying to make the world a better and safer place.

When we awake from this nightmarish-like 2020, it is people like her that I first want to see too.

Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at

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