Tuesday, August 21, 2007


As I walk through our garden, it's somewhat like visiting old friends; so many of the plants there have been given to us over the years, and each of these plants reminds me of the giver. I'm not sure just when I first started noticing that an awful lot of the givers are now gone from this earth.
Take the acidanthera; it's now been classified as Gladiolus callianthus, but I'll stick with calling it by the lovely name acidanthera, thank you very much. When I stop and view what's now a memorial plant, it usually brings back a lot of warm memories, but every year when the peacock lily (as the acidanthera is also called) blooms, it is a bittersweet thing. The original bulbs were a gift many years ago from one of my medical patients; a gentle and intelligent man who for no accountable reason other than chance, was dealt a devastating hand in life. I do not have enough fingers on my hands to tick off the major illnesses that he was afflicted with. Life was just a struggle for him, and caring for him as a doctor was not much easier, and when he died and I was filling out his death certificate, I thought of listing the cause of death as "tired of living". The river flows on, but ten years has not been enough time to wash away the sorrow I feel for him. With the popular characterization of medicine and medical doctors as being impersonal, it would probably surprise most people to know how much most physicians care about their patients, and how long they remember and grieve their passing.
So the acidanthera is blooming now; lovely in its somber maroon and white, with a sweet perfume. I wish my old friend was here to enjoy it with me.
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It is a revelation to me, Don, to think that a Dr. still remembers and has sorrow for a patient.
Our Dr. is not impersonal, but she seems overwhelmed and the office is always crowded with coughing fat old people.
I love your photo and your post confirms my suspicions-you are just like the Dr. on Little House on the Prairie!!
A really beautiful story Don. I think your friend is here to enjoy it. It's amazing to me how often flowers and plants take us back to our past and remind us of special people and special times.
Take care, BOB

p.s. I prefer Acidanthera myself.
Sissy... most doctors can choose how many patients to allow in their practice. I didn't make so much money, but I wouldn't trade it for the amount of time I was able to spend with my patients.

Bob... thanks for your understanding.

It's the wonderful surprise of practice that we can't give them in medical school and residency: walking with your patients through long illness has rewards and sorrows. And we would (like motherhood) do it all over, only better, if we could.
Judith... you are right on.

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