When I try to share my recent experience with others, I can't get through it without crying. I decided to put it on paper so you could hear a story with a happy ending.
Daddy has been in a hospital or rehab facility for the last month. Generally speaking, he suffers from symptoms of being 90 and occasionally needs a tune up to get his motor running again. Before I continue, though, you need a little background information.
Our father was born in a small East Texas town where his parents owned and operated a drug store and where his father was the pharmacist. He and his sister grew up to become doctors, and they both practiced general medicine in the back of the store. His love of obstetrics and gynecology led him back to do a residency, and he eventually settled in Tyler, where he practiced for more than 40 years. Having delivered 7,000 babies to mothers all over East Texas, there have been many tales to tell by some of his patients. They have approached us while having family dinners at local restaurants, walking in the mall or shopping around town. We really think he remembers most of them by the glimmer of recognition we see in his eyes, a faint smile, or a gentle nod of the head.
My mother and I had the pleasure of hearing one of those stories the other day while visiting him at rehab. For those of you who have spent any time with a loved one in the hospital, you all know that people walk in and out of your lives daily, some you know and some you don't. One such person came in yesterday and introduced herself as a former patient.
She said, "Not a day goes by that I don't think of your father."
She continued to say that she prayed she would run into him one day so she could tell him what he has meant to her all these years. With tears in her eyes, she said she was amazed to find out that he was a patient there across the hall from her uncle, whom she was visiting.
She proceeded to tell us that she became a patient of his, when, at 18, she was pregnant and in an abusive marriage. She said that when her baby was six weeks old, her husband left both of them with nothing but mounting debts. The only thing she had was her child and a job as a waitress at a local Mexican food restaurant where my parents frequently ate. She recanted that on one of her darkest days my parents ate where she worked and upon leaving left a note for her at the cash register. It simply said, "You don't owe me anything." She told us that she felt like she had won a million dollar lottery.
Her baby boy grew up, graduated from Texas A&M, married an A&M graduate, and subsequently put his wife through law school. They both are professionals working in Houston with two children of their own.
An act of kindness that happened many years ago has come full circle. Our father has been discharged from rehab and is at home now. We will never forget the day we heard this feel good story.