MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — She’s been waiting 40 years for an ending to her story. And on Thursday night, it finally came.
On Christmas Day, we shared Jan DeVries’ plea.
Years ago, as a young nurse, she was given a rare Christmas ornament by a family whose father died in the hospital.
For decades, DeVries has been waiting to tell the family their father is not forgotten.
Well, the patient’s daughter just happened to be watching WCCO-TV on Christmas, and after a few phone calls, the reunion was in the works.
In 1971, DeVries was a first-year nurse working in the ICU at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul.
“I was his nurse, and he had pneumonia,” DeVries said, recalling the patient.
While she lost her patient, she soon gained a lifelong keepsake.
Not long after the patient’s death, his children arrived on her doorstep with an ornament. It was a way of giving thanks for her care in his final moments.
The ornament is a golden ball with a string, which plays a tune when pulled.
Mary Claire Poe, one of the man’s children, saw the ornament on WCCO-TV Christmas night.
“I thought: That looks just like my mom’s ornament,” Poe said to DeVries when the two met Thursday. “And then I heard you tell your story, and I just thought that’s my dad, that’s my dad…and I didn’t know what else to do.”
DeVries’ ornament was a gift from the patient’s wife. She also gave similar ornaments to each of the children and kept one for herself.
“Every year I put this up, I think of your family…I think of your Dad,” DeVries told the family.
The children say they believe their mother– now an angel– would choose no other time to get her wings.
“Thank you, Claire,” said DeVries. “I will remember you in my prayers.”
The oldest son, Jim, says his grandson is at Gillette Children’s in St. Paul, where he’s been on a respirator for 5 months.
He thinks this was mom’s way of telling the kids to stay strong.