Another day, another trip to the doctor. Wow, who knew that people in their eighties and nineties needed so much medical attention? So much blood work? Took so much medication? Hmmm. Maybe I'm talking about myself. This morning when our doctor, who has now become Grampie and Thyrza's doctor, talked Thyrza through her long list of medications (and knew every single one of them without having to look them up in his handy Palm Pilot with the PDR stored on it), Thyrza was hoping she could drop one of them. The dr told her that she's actually quite healthy for someone her age, and that she takes a manageable number of meds. I'd hate for her to know that I take almost as many, and I'm almost 40 years younger. Even though she'd been warned, Thyrza thought our doctor was a mere baby, told him so. Asked him how he'd enjoyed the Olympics. He was impressed that she knew he'd been up there this week. They spoke of their mutual Canadian heritage and American citizenship (but shush, don't tell all those folks yelling U-S-A! everywhere right now, you know, the ones who could care less about the luge and bobsled most of the time, have never been to a nordic event in their life before, but are just rabid enough sports fans to take their shirts off and paint letters on their hairy chests and stand out in the snow like idiots, thinking this is the way to show their patriotism!).
This is the third time we've been to the doctor's in a week, which doesn't include the physical therapy appointment Thyrza takes the shuttle to. For the longest time, I've wondered if our doctor, who has many, many patients remembered me from one appointment to the next. Everyone remembers Beve, of course. Me? Not so much. However, from now on, I have a feeling none of us will be anonymous. There's a whole clan of us with our doctor now, which somehow comforts me. It makes me think of the way life would have been a long time ago, when a doctor who delivered a baby at the end of his career in a small country town, had also delivered that baby's mother, maybe even the grandmother...though maybe that's stretching it. The point is, that doctor knew the family well enough that he knew family histories better than the family itself. He knew that Aunt Mary had had a stroke, Uncle Cal died from congestive heart failure, a couple of the sisters had breast cancer, and there'd always been heartburn when too many peppers were served at the 4th of July picnic.
These things were known because the doctor was part of the community. He got paid in those heart-burn-producing peppers from the Clarkes, in bacon from the Beacons, in zucchini from everybody and their brothers. He didn't need a whole complicated computer system to keep track of his patients, because those people he cared for on Friday, he worshipped with on Sunday--unless they went across the street to the Lutherans, which was fine with him, they still needed caring for when they took ill or had babies, or needed sitting with when all they were doing was dying.
You know, I miss those days. That might be a funny thing to say, considering I didn't live them, and wouldn't have survived them. If I'd been alive back when there were only country doctors who drove around in buggies, and no hospitals anywhere near, I'd have died sometime between childhood and when I was about to deliver E. I can think of three specific situations that would have killed me if I'd lived any time earlier than God gave me life, but particularly when I labored with my first child who was too big from my mis-shaped pelvis. We'd both have died that day, leaving Beve a widower, and no E, J, or SK anywhere in sight. So though I long for the simple community of a hundred years ago, I am glad to be alive today to long for it. Glad my family is alive today, with all the conveniences, the advances, the ease of this life in this world. I long for the simplicity of an earlier world but am convinced that my life was meant for here and now, and has purpose. And as Robert Frost would say, that has made all the difference.
I've been thinking about this idea of life having purpose and meaning because a week ago, one of J's closest friends tried, for the second time, to end his life. J said last night that this young man feels not only worthless but so unloved that no one would even notice if he were gone. I know this isn't true. For one thing, J would notice. But I am certain this young man's family would as well. However, in the dark, empty, sad place where this man exists, he doesn't believe that. And unless something changes, unless some healing, some great doctor--the great Physician--comes along with healing in His hands and wings and whatever else it takes, this friend of my son will try to end his life again. And eventually succeed. No human aid will stop him, if he's so determined. Only a supernatural One can get in the way of this ghoulish goal. This young man's life was given for this time, this world, as purposely as yours or mine. And I pray, and I ask you who read this to pray, that he learn it, know it, recognize that that purpose is good, from God, and is meant for Life!