Her name is Lorna Pominville. Tenacious and capable describe her. With the advent of her new release, Alpha! Alpha! Alpha!, there is only one word that defines her− fearless!
When you live your dreams
you’re answering your soul’s
request to be heard
...A Fearless Woman quote byJeannine Roberts Royce
Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! is a wonderfully candid account of her adventures behind the scenes of a luxurious floating palace.
I was impressed and, yes, intrigued when I learned Lorna had worked the cruise ships. Not only because it sounded like an interesting job but also because she accepted this position later in life.
With her family grown and gone from the nest, she was off and running...er...sailing.
Lorna is charming and quick-witted. Always a laugh bubbling just below the surface. It is my pleasure to know her and now having read her book I know her a lot better.
I caught up with Lorna and over an enjoyable lunch and pleasurable glass of merlot, she answered some questions I could not resist asking.
Q:Lorna, in your book you claim to be five feet tall.You don’t appear that tall to me but I won’t challenge you.(laugh)
Lorna:I used to be taller.(more laughter)Until now, I never weighed more than 90 lbs.I remember being thrilled when I reached the 89 mark.
Q:I never realized until I read your book what was expected of you physically in your job. Did your size not come into question during the hiring process?
Lorna:No, a nurse accepts the same physical challenges no matter where she works.
Q:I couldn’t help laughing when I read about you taking the large lady in the wheel chair down the gangway. I could picture your little rubber-soled shoes lifting off the ground.
Lorna:Oh my goodness, I thought we were going to crash.(laughter)
Q:Did you expect that being a nurse on a cruise ship would be a different experience?
Lorna:Nursing is different even in different areas of a hospital.I knew it would be different on the ship.For one thing, I needed an ACLS (Advanced Cardio Life Support) certificate.
Q:Obviously, you enjoy a challenge.What qualities did you have that prepared you for life aboard ship?
Lorna:I enjoy a warm climate.I love to travel.I had done some travelling−not a lot−but I had been to China, Hawaii, Spain.A couple of cruises, as well.
Q:You were a 55-year-old woman applying for a job on a cruise ship.Was age ever an issue?
Lorna:No, maturity and experience were assets.I was physically fit and energetic.
Q:That’s a good thing.You didn’t believe in using elevators, did you.
Lorna:No, I was always racing up and down the stairs from one deck to another.That was my exercise.We had a gym facility for crew but it wasn’t practical for me to use it.The minute I changed into sweats and got on a machine I could get a call.We only had five minutes to respond to an emergency.
Q:There are so many adventures in your book−your camel ride being one that comes to mind.You live life to the fullest and it shows on every page.You mention sampling the different cuisine; were you ever sick from food poisoning?I remember you did not like eating eel.(laugh)
Lorna:No, I was never sick.I was always willing to try something new.Sometimes with the language barrier, I wasn’t sure what I was eating.(much laughter)It was probably better that way.Do you remember what I said about the snakes?
Q:What struck me most in reading your account, aside from your positive attitude and confidence, was your hardiness.I can’t imagine being alone in a lifeboat with the prospect of scaling a six-foot concrete wall without assistance.I would have packed my bags and gone home long before that episode.Did you ever consider leaving your job?
Lorna:No, never.In that particular instance, it was a drill and the tide had changed.No, I was dedicated to my work.There were times−there are times in anyone’s job−but I knew I could quit at the end of a contract.When that time came, I always looked forward to my next contract.
Q:What prompted you to write articles for travel magazines?How did that come about?
Lorna:I knew the publisher of the magazine.We’d gone to school together.She heard I was working for a cruise line and she approached me.I thought, oh that sounds exciting.I wrote one article a month for a year and a half.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself. Your life before hitting the high seas.
Lorna:I was a professional dressmaker.When all three kids were in school, I went back to school myself.I completed my grade thirteen and went on to nursing school. Then university.I would have liked to pursue a career in interior design or continue with my dressmaking, but nursing contributed more to the household income.I enjoyed nursing.I thought of becoming a nurse from an early age.After working in Sarnia for sixteen years, I decided to make a change.I was on my own, having been divorced for many years, and my children were married. There were more nursing opportunities in London so I moved there.I worked for seven years non-stop and continued my education at Fanshawe. Then I spotted an ad in a nursing journal.The rest is in the book.
Q:Lorna, what is next for you?
Lorna:Right now, I am promoting my book.I would like to organize some more book signings.A couple of groups contacted me for speaking engagements.That sounds like fun.I keep in touch with a number of the crew that I worked with over the years and they are excited about my book and anxious to read it.I have a request from South Africa that I am filling.I keep busy.I always have a project on the go.I still love to sew.
Q:What project are you working on now?
Lorna:A bit of woodworking.I am putting mouldings on the door in my condo.(laugh)I just want to dress it up a bit.
Q:I am convinced there is nothing beyond your capabilities, Lorna.I know everybody is anxious to read about your escapades.Where can they pick up a copy of Lorna Pominville’s Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! Tales of a Cruise Ship Nurse?
Lorna:From the Honey and Locust, 180 N. Front Street in Sarnia, or from me. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.orgI can send you a personalized copy.