Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.
(Proverb 12:25, KJV)
I was feeling a bit sentimental. I had decided to move my practice north to a neighboring country. Closing down one practice as I was establishing the other, I was going to a colleague’s office once a week to finish residual follow-up care of patients. This was the very last day of my work there, and she was the last patient.
Marge was a lady in her mid-80s. She was cleanly dressed with neatly groomed, short gray hair. “Doctor, this is the last day that I can see you. My son is coming tomorrow to take me to his home in Buffalo, New York.” I thought to myself, cold Buffalo instead of San Diego at her age? Why would she want to move in that direction?
She reminisced about her younger days as an opera singer. Her husband would always sit in the front row, and in her mind she was singing for him. Then I thought, more than the warmth of the weather, she needs warmth in her heart surrounded by the care of her kinfolks.
Abruptly, she stopped and asked me, “Doctor, do you remember what you said to me when you first saw me?” I couldn’t remember. She said, “You will walk again.””
Sure, an elderly lady breaks her hip, and I do what I am supposed to do as an orthopaedic surgeon: fix the hip and get her to walk. Routine practice. Nothing special.
“Doctor, after I fell and broke my hip, helplessly lying on a gurney, I thought, ‘This is it for my life.’ After all, since I lost my husband, I had lost my sense of life. But your first words brought me hope. It changed my outlook. I felt the will to live surging in me with an assurance that I could live normally again.”
From time to time, I think about Marge. I wonder whether she moved to Buffalo safely and found comfort in her son’s care for the remainder of her life. But as I become more conscious of myself, I wonder what I might have said today to another Marge and what effect it may have had on her this time. Was I an agent of hope? Or have I condemned myself to be simply a deliverer of facts?
–Andrew Kim, LLUSM class of 1979-B