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Reese Witherspoon gets emotional recalling her mom’s life work as a nurse

"My mother has such infinite compassion,” the "Sing 2" actor said on "The Drew Barrymore Show."

Reese Witherspoon got emotional "The Drew Barrymore Show" opening up about what it was like to grow up with her mom who worked as a nurse.

"You're going to make me cry," she told Barrymore while recalling her mom's job, which landed her in a Memphis, Tennessee, newspaper for being one of the youngest nurses in the town.

The audience for Barrymore's show that aired Wednesday was made up entirely of nurses.

"Being raised by a nurse, I think my mother has such infinite compassion," Witherspoon said. "My mother worked night shifts, she worked weekends, so I had to kind of take care of myself. My brother and I would make dinner and everything. She was so tired, but she just loved her patients."

Witherspoon explained that her mom, Betty, cared for expecting mothers as a labor and delivery nurse and also worked in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Being a nurse involved everyday heroics, Witherspoon recalled. Once, she said, her mother saved her best friend's life after a bad accident.

"I've watched my mother save people's lives," Witherspoon said. "Whether it was save a kid from drowning, she helped her very best friend had a bad accident when we were very little — and I watched her resuscitate her on the side of a highway.

"There is so much we don't focus and highlight on the people who do that hard difficult work of saving lives," she said.

Reese Witherspoon with her mother, Mary "Betty" Witherspoon, following the Academy Awards in 2006 .J. Vespa / WireImage

Witherspoon made sure to tell Barrymore's audience that she greatly admired the work that they do — and recognized it wasn't an easy calling.

"It's such an incredible profession," Witherspoon said. "And you know, it's always hard to get people to do it. You think it's so rewarding and I remember even though my mom was tired, she was like, 'I have purpose.'

"And having purpose in your life is such a big part of being a human being, like what are we here for? We're here to care for each other, you know?"