Posted by: johnhourihan | December 14, 2013

The Crystal Starlight Ball

Anyone who has a loved one who had to be moved to a nursing home or an institution because he or she was beyond the level of help you could give them, please listen to this monologue from a nurse in a home for those with Alzheimer’s.
And now, at Christmas time, remember those whose job it is to take care of them.
This is from a play The Starlight Crystal Ball, written by my youngest cousin Maureen Hourihan. It is possibly the best piece of writing I have ever read. It says so much in so few words.
Roz is a nurse who has just been told by her patient’s daughter Rose that she has no right to allow Rose’s father to think Roz is his daughter.

“I know he wakes up in a cold sweat a couple of times a night, confused, but when he sits behind the nurses desk with us and has a ginger ale he starts to settle down again.
(Rose looks at her like she’s hearing something she didn’t know.) I know he has three kids he adores and when someone talks about one of you his face lights up like a birthday cake. (Pause.) He keeps peppermints in his pockets and hands them out to the secretaries and lunch ladies, he holds the doors for the nurses and gives them fatherly advice (Rose is crying quietly, gets up, starts to walk away, ROZ calls after her) and when I leave after my shift he tells the orderlies to be quiet, his daughter is going to bed (Rose stops, ROZ stands.) So? I let him think I’m his daughter. So what? Smitty thinks I’m his wife. Mr. Quigley thinks I’m his second grade teacher! What does it matter? You come in here for a day or two, you remind him of who you are, then you go. What do you think happens then? (Beat.) I’ll tell you what happens. He cries like a baby until one of us hugs him. So, if you need to be daddy’s little girl, well go ahead be it. But when you leave, we’ll still be here. (Roz goes back to the microphone and begins to sing You Don’t Know Me.)

Please remember that some of these people aren’t just nurses, or cafeteria workers, or hairdressers, or attendants, they are angels, and at this time of year the job is more difficult than at any other time. Thank them, give them a gift, shake their hand or hug them, but please don’t talk down to them. They just don’t need it. They don’t deserve it.



  1. I know a couple of Roz’s. I think I’ll print this. Help them get it out of their systems just by reading it. It says much more then just Thank-You.

  2. This was an outstanding piece and oh soooo very true! Thank you for reminding people about the importance of not only nurses but all medical personnel that work not only in Nursing homes or rehabs but all of them especially at this time of year when they too, would rather be home enjoying their families but instead take care of others and most do so with Roz’s attitude. That of a loving, caring daughter who treats each patient as though he/she is her mother, father, sister, child, teacher etc. Thanks again!

    • Sue, you are entirely welcome


  3. Oh John, this reminds me of my dear cousin, Barbara, who used to care for
    our Dad. He thought that she was me. It was a great comfort to him, and for
    me as well. I used to drive from Dedham to Milford every night to help him with dinner. Strange as it may seem, thinking that Barbara was me(pardon the grammar) alleviated me of some of those hectic trips.

    I saw Maureen’s play in Cotuit. It definitely brought tears to my eyes!! Thank
    you for reminding us of how many amazing people are out there: most of the
    Medical Profession, bus drivers, taxi drivers, EMS folks, police and fire men,
    people who have to work when they would like to be with their children or
    parents and those who are unable and have people such as the ones you
    mention to hold the fort for them. Thank You, Patricia

  4. I believe that Neil is one of those Rozes. (sp)

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