Monday, August 18, 2008

Walking Away

He would have been 78 years old last August 14 and few ever doubted that he would live that long. After all he came from hardy, peasant stock, men and women hardened and toughened by the rich soil that they tilled all their lives. His father lived to be 93 and his mother to the ripe age of 84, so who would have thought that he would die at the relatively young age of 66?

If there was one thing my father feared, and he was essentially a man of few fears and doubts, it was the possibility of being struck down by any illness that would lay him low and helpless, a veritable vegetable who would have to be taken cared of - a financial, emotional and physical burden for his his family to carry and endure. He would recoil at the very thought and time and time again he would aver that he would die a quick, peaceful death and that everyone he loved would be spared the agony of seeing him leave this world.

He was also a man capable of quick decisions. He believed in doing what he believed to be right quickly, wholeheartedly and with the minimum of fuss. As such, he was always on the go, a man seemingly always in a hurry and moving as if the normal pace of life was too slow for him.

As a physician he worked quickly and briskly, his diagnoses as intuitive as they are based on common sense and a keen, observant eye. As a surgeon, he wielded the scalpel with speed and precision, often pulling off surgical miracles where lesser doctors have given up all hope.

It did not mean that he was better skilled than them or a better doctor. He just had more courage, greater determination and a willingness to attempt the impossible rather than just surrender meekly and helplessly watch his patients succumb to the natural consequences of disease and injury.

In the end he died the way he wanted to live - peacefully, quietly, with the minimum of fuss and fun fare, in his bed while the rest of the world remained blissfully unaware of his passing. He got what he wished for and more.

He once told me that when you are a surgeon in the operating room, you do all that you can do. No more and no less. Cut when you have to cut and when you have done all that you can humanly do then close up and walk away. Leave the rest to God and the healing power of nature. Just do the best job you can possibly do under the circumstances. Then walked away with peace in your heart. No regrets or recriminations.

So when his time came, he did exactly what he had always done. He walked away and never looked back. He had done what he could and more. Let God take care of the rest.

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