So Anne Marie, tell me about Monsters and Angels in one sentence.
How about one picture?
“We don’t choose who we love.”
Tonight I had the pleasure of visiting a historic, French Quarter residence to interview Sorcha B. Alden, a 2015 nominee for the “Light Up Every Room” award. A career nurse, Sorcha was born September 3, 1916 and has cared for patients around the world in her quest to relieve suffering and celebrate every precious moment of life. She currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ms. Alden, congratulation on your nomination!
Thank you for traveling so far for to interview me.
I know you’re from New York City, were you born there?
Yes, at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Hell’s Kitchen.
What prompted you to move so far south?
Initially, for a job, but New Orleans gets under your skin. I felt the ground shake when I stepped off the train in 1935…I didn’t realize it then, but I was home.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
My mother, Adelaide Alden. She passed away when I was 21 years old. My life’s path has been about honoring her legacy.
You don’t look a day over 22…what’s your secret?
I may have found the fountain of youth, but it’s cost me everything.
Who has been the most influential person in your incredible journey and why?
Dr. Raimond Banitierre. He taught me how to stare adversity in the face and cherish every gift I was given. Balancing love and duty was his greatest strength.
Have you ever been in love?
Once. Well…yes, just once.
Are you married?
In my heart, I am. Officially, my husband and I are separated. It’s complicated.
What are you most passionate about?
Preserving the dignity of people at the end of their lives. Treasuring our ancestors and their memories.
What makes you angry?
Seeing people disrespected because they’re different. Acceptance is the key to survival.
What makes you strong?
The unwavering support of my family and friends.
What character trait do you most admire in others?
One more hard question…what was the most important day of your life?
New Year’s Day, 1955. I faced my fears and won back New Orleans for the Banitierres and Aldens.
Now, let’s have some fun. What’s your favorite drink?
The Garnet Martini. It won’t be on the drink menu, but any New Orleans bartender worth their salt can mix it.
Band—Volbeat. Musician—Lady Gaga or Meatloaf. Depends on my mood.
Your favorite color?
Favorite vacation spot?
Scotland. The Isle of Skye.
What holiday do you look forward to each year?
Halloween…and Christmas. I love to decorate for both.
If you could give a piece of advice to future generations, what would it be?
Strength to forgive your enemies, vision to see power in diversity, and the courage to lead will pave the road for a brilliant future.
Even thousands of miles away, hints bombard the senses, every minute of every day.
The burst of fresh coffee’s aroma, and the knowledge that it won’t be perfect.
A wall of air so steamy, it’s worn like soggy paper.
Silent fog, swirling, devouring all in its path without remorse.
Snippets of jazz, riding on a veiled wind.
The fleeting whiff of a long forgotten candle.
Whispers of spirits hidden in the midnight rain.
In her sultry voice, New Orleans is always calling us home.
Most yearn for heartwrenching, final goodbyes and lament lost salvation. Given the choice of reconciliation or compassion, most choose the dream…the illusion…damn the consequences and the blessing of swift tragedy.
While the front door is for the thrill seekers, the exit ramp is a journey reserved for the strongest of a chosen few. Against all common sense, I’ve opted for that gruesome path, over and over again. Much more than a job, it’s a calling.
Someday, somewhere, the bells will ring with reward—as pure as summer rain, constant as eternal soul, smooth as blended notes and rich with big harmony.