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  • Alyse Gray

A visit with Virginia Lynch and Zug Standing Bear

My husband and I traveled to Colorado to interview a woman known as The Mother of Forensic Nursing. Virginia Lynch is a pioneer who created the academic discipline of forensic nursing. She is a fascinating woman, and her stories are equally captivating, I am excited to share how she overcame obstacles to get forensic nursing from a program her dean canceled and thought no one was interested in, to a profession taught by 91 schools around the world. The best part? She didn't go to school or have a career until she was 42. I found that encouraging because sometimes I feel like I'm too old to accomplish anything. It's never too late to achieve your dreams.

I was expecting to stay for an hour or two at her home in the Rockies, but we ended up staying all day. I talked very little, and learned a great deal. Both Virginia and her husband, Zug Standing Bear had many stories to tell. Virignia has traveled around the world to teach her model of forensic nursing. Standing Bear is a forensic science professor with a long military history. I could have stayed all night to hear them talk, but we had windy mountain roads to drive on, and those are no fun at night.

I came in with a notebook full of questions for Virginia, who is in her late 70's, only to ask one of them, which was, "how do you have the energy to do all of this?" She told me that she doesn't. It's passion that has always driven, and continues to drive her. She feels like quitting some nights after returning from teaching, but can think of nothing else she'd rather be doing. That is real passion!

Virginia and her husband were so welcoming and fed us a wonderful lunch of crostinis, grape salad, and green salad, with a perfectly baked pound cake and homemade ice cream for desert. Virginia showed us her office, full of artifacts from around the globe, and Standing Bear brought up three of his rescue hedgehogs to play in the living room. When we said goodbye, they waved at us from the driveway and their porch as we drove off. It was very much like visiting a relative.

Prior to the trip, I was worried about how it would go, fearing I would mess things up and she wouldn't like me, etc etc. I am still concerned she will reject my write up. But overall the fear was much less than what I had going on before to talking to Cyril Wecht, That anxiety made my stomach hurt for weeks. Every morning I felt like I had to throw up. I decided that no human being was worth that kind of physical toll, vowing that I would never be that anxious again before interviewing someone.

Even if no one reads this book, doing things that are scary is making me a stronger person. Perhaps someday I will be fearless.

Oh and I did not climb Pike's Peak this time. I discovered my husband had a cardiac issue(thanks to FitBit) and we decided against it. We did drive to the top, where I slipped on some gravel and promptly sprained my ankle. As for Puerto Rico, my boss said I wasn't allowed to go. I was sad, but it worked out, standing all day doing autopsies on a sprained ankle would have not been a good idea.

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