REMEMBERING MEDICAL SCHOOL
A Eulogy to Elizabeth (Manning) Edwards (1933 - 2003)
Liz & Jack Edwards, Vancouver Island, 2002
It is strange, and somewhat painful, to remember what happened 50 years ago. Usually, I don't think much about Medical School - we were so naïve.
Liz and I had been friends since September 1959, when we both started Pre-Med at the University of Toronto. We either shared a room or were in adjacent rooms for 5 of the 6 years that we were at the U of T. I think that we were such good friends because Liz was the most cooperative and easy to get along with of all of us - a not common characteristic among female medical students at that time.
There were 13 girls in a class of 150. We found this ratio exciting. There was never any thought of affirmative action or women's rights then; we just accepted the status quo, and since we were in, didn't worry about quotas, or other things that fill the papers now. But we did know that we had to be better than the boys to justify our position - especially as we got closer to the real life practice of medicine. I wonder if we would have thought of the bigger picture if we had not been so busy trying to learn anatomy and biochemistry and physiology. At that time medicine was academic -our hands-on experience was very little, and was eventually learned, almost unsupervised, when interning.
Medical School did not cost so much in the 50s, as it does now, but I was aware that it was a financial burden for the Mannings. However, none of us had, or spent, much extra money. The year that Liz and I shared an apartment, and made our own meals, we took pride in eating for $25 a month. But there would be a real improvement in our diet after a trip home. To save money, Liz and I both sewed our own clothes.
She was in the chorus of Daffydil (the annual Med school show), and I felt somewhat left out of this. However, one year they came to me with the “good news”, that they needed someone to do the costumes, and wouldn't I love to do that. Everyone would help me. Since I had no experience, and very little knowledge of show business, I did a really bad job of it (but it did get done). Liz and I sewed costumes every night for about a month. She had to help, since she really got me into it.
Although she was very beautiful and feminine, and attractive, boys played a very small part in her life. That was until she joined the air force, and spent her summers in uniform. That was where she met Jack, and became totally devoted to him - all I saw were his letters and phone calls. I was very involved in the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship during my school years. It seemed that I always had the job of supplying food to large groups of people (with the hope that feeding them would convert them). Although Liz was never as involved as me, she helped with all these catering jobs, thank goodness. During our visit together last summer I realized that she had kept her faith, although I didn't.
Then there was the sneeze. Her sneeze sounded like 5 squealing mice being shoved through a small opening. It never failed to disrupt the class. If there were two sneezes in one lecture, the all powerful doctor, delivering the lecture, would look frustrated, try to think of some disciplinary action, and then realize that there was nothing he could do or say. I might have forgotten about the sneeze, but last summer, I realized that it had not improved after all these years.
Although Liz never failed to have an afternoon nap during our study periods, she passed easily, and we finally had our graduation in 1956. The next day she was married, and our ways separated: me to Montreal and her to Vancouver.
One time a couple of years ago, when we were talking on the phone she said, “Remember Nancy, if you need me, I'll always be there for you”. Well, she won't.
Nancy Ironside, MD