Charlotte M. Florine

Honored by:Mary A. Barton
Brick location:E:7  map

Dr. Charlotte Florine was bom in Iowa--the oldest of nine children. She graduated from Iowa State in 1940 and then went on to get her medical degree at Iowa University. In the mid 1960s she studied Psychiatry in Pittsburgh. Charlotte and I became friends in college corresponding for over 50 years. Quotes from some of her letters will give you a chance to know this brave woman her battles with health problems and her love of Hawaii and Iowa.

1946. As you've no doubt heard I came to Honolulu to intern at Queen's and after finishing there was offered a place with a very excellent group of doctors so I elected to stay on until I am a little more experienced and a little more financially able to take off by myself that is if I ever do. I have an excellent spot and am really very happy. Although I carry a dream of going back to Iowa I suppose I'll probably stay on here indefinitely. It's a fascinating place to live--it's really the crossroads of the Pacific and a great melting pot and as a result one has the most interesting experience imaginable here.

1950. This is a wonderful island--a wonderful city--and I've a wonderful profession-- so I'm happier than it seems right in these troubled times. I only wish I could share some of my love of people and life and my faith that in the end things will work out with some of those who find it hard to see any hope for themselves or the world.

1956. This past year I had some major kidney surgery--went on a jaunt to one of the islands to recuperate which was a wonderful way to get away from the phone and responsibilities for awhile. In July I took five days off and flew to Iowa (fabulous) to spend four days with my family for our first get-together with all of us (9) at home since 1945.

1958. Aloha for Hawaii--which is the local greeting which says so much in just what Christ tried to teach in his commandment of Love. The aloha of Hawaii is very similar to what the Greeks meant by agape apparently and always seems to express the warmest kind of feeling for others. And so I send my aloha to you at Chtistmas and for the year ahead.

In 1960 Charlotte mentioned that she had been to the hospital for surgery several times.

1961. My surgery this year put me on the shelf for 3 months and then when I came back to work I went on a 75 % of full time schedule and I don't plan ever to go back to full time. I've had enough years of this day and night business with bad kidneys to care for. Thinking of Iowa.

1975. Home--it's still a wonderful place. My love for those rolling hills and long vistas continues even though my family have flown the county--all except one brother. I'm going to promise to remember it as long as the grey cells function.

When she came back to Iowa in 1976 for a visit she saw some of my quilts and when Tom and I visited her in 1982 we saw her beautiful Hawaiian quilt that she spent seven years making. My heritage quilt had taken me seven years to complete also. In 1983 Charlotte loaned her quilt for an exhibit at the Brunnier during the Heirloom to Heirloom Quilt Conference. My letter from her in May 1987 brought tears to my eyes.

1987. The last year--or really two years have been very difflcult forme as I got an infection in my kidneys that did not clear up with a simple antibiotic and destroyed most of my kidney function so that I had to go on dialysis three times a week. There have been several hospital emergency admissions but currently I am feeling good and have been able to keep up my practice on a half time basis. I've become aware that it is getting late so I'm slowly going through files just as it seems you are doing and finding places where some of my things will be of use after I am gone. I'm thrilled to know that you have found a home for your collection at the Historical Museum in Des Moines. Right now I think I'll close up and make a trip to the mainland to visit friends and family and some of the places that have meant so much to me. June 7 1987. Thanks for the gift of your tears and your anger. It is a blessing to know that there are friends in the world who care what happens to me. I've had my own tears and angers but they disappear when I know how fortunate I am to be living in this age where there is a machine that can do the work that my kidneys can no longer do. Sometimes the runs are hard but for the most part it has settled into a routine--just something that has to be done--like doing the dishes after a meal. The four plus hours slip by easily. My worst fear is that soon I won't be able to drive and may have to sell my home to move to an apartment close to a bus line. But I've had so much pleasure living here I'll have few regrets in letting someone else enjoy it. Charlotte did get back to the mainland in 1988. Arrangements were made ahead of time for her dialysis at various cities. In previous years Charlotte had come back to the mainland to help parents and siblings deal with illness and death. This trip was for her own emotions.

1989. My illness has helped me to understand what others have said-- "that if you live each day to its fullest, tomorrow will take care of itself."

1991. Life goes on for me. Thanks to EPO I am stronger and do more--sometimes too much and I have to take a day to rest and recuperate. The university student who lives with me has helped a lot by cooking meals for me when I come home from dialysis.

1992. Dialysis has gotten to be a routine for me, for which I am very grateful--as it gives me some good days. The nephrologists seem to be able to pull out a new pill or soemthing when I start deteriorating--so I have now been on dialysis five years. New problems in the circulation to my lefs threaten, but when they talk of amputation I remember how lucky I am that I have walked in many cities of the Us (Chicago, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, ect.) and in other parts of the world (London, Paris, Rome. ect)

It is hard soemtimes as I struggle against the increasing circulatory problems in my legs and the swelling and pain in my hands. I do wonder what is next? Will I be able to deal with the next problem? Lest I sound too depressed- It is still good to awaken of a morning-- to hear the birds sing, to enjoy breakfast and to be surprised at new happenings. And to remember the glorious springs in Iowa-- red buds, peonies, spirea, ect.-- and blossoming fruit trees.

1993. My list of problems continues to grow as I fight falling apart. Some nice things happen from time to time to keep my spirits up.

1994. Your description of the spring flowers bursting out there stirred my memories. I've never seen a more beautiful spring anywhere that compares to Iowa's springs. We have another beautiful, beatufiul morning. The ocean is deep blue with white ship coming in to the harbor.


Dr. Charlotte Florine died in February of 1995. Reading her letters again helps me to accept the death of this courageous woman.