Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Last Man Standing

So, the other day, our local surgeon and father of one of my childhood friends, passed away after a steady decline in health. He was a larger-than-life person, who lived to the fullest and was a brilliant surgeon on top of it. He'd dedicated his career, as has my father, to the rural agricultural community where I grew up.

With his passing, my father is the last of the local doctors- there are some "imports", but Dad's the last one who came during the Sixties, when the hospital was new and building a really great reputation in the area. He's been lonely since the surgeon retired this summer, and now...I hope he doesn't decide to retire. He'd be bored stiff inside five minutes. Dad's not exactly a handyman, and his primary entertainment other than watching hunting on TV is actually hunting (which these days is more like "sitting in his stand watching the animals walk by- sometimes shooting at them, but not seriously").

I'm not going to mince words here: they dealt with a lot of gruesome shit at our tiny local hospital back in the day. There were horrible car accidents, difficult births, men mangled and torn by farm machinery and livestock, hunting mishaps, drug overdoses, teen suicides...and we had a pretty sharp bunch of doctors to handle all that. They stepped up. They brought the "A game". They gave their lives to Medicine and we, the families, understood...that was The Way It Was- your dad missed recitals, graduations, award ceremonies, dances, plays, and ballgames, because he was sewing up some guy who caught a chainsaw with his thigh.

This particular surgeon helped me sneak my mother's original Papillon into the hospital. He'd taken Mom's very, very infected gallbladder out and was telling me, in detail, about how serious her condition was, when Didi poked her nose out through the collar of the cardigan in which I had her wrapped. He looked down, saw the dog, and said, "Get it inside- I'll cover you!" as he propelled me toward the door, where I was further aided and abetted by the Director of Nursing. Mom, by the way, was upset: "Oh, honey, you brought a DOG into a HOSPITAL! What were you thinking?" That was long before anyone had ever heard of therapy pets, of course.

There are a lot of people back home who owe their lives or the lives of their loved ones to this man. To me, of course, he was not only my father's colleague, but my friend's dad and the man who let me fish in his farm pond...and who helped me get a DOG into a HOSPITAL and never once questioned the logic behind it. 

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