The unthinkable just happened.
Our health provider sent me a stack of notices.
One for each child. All saying the same thing.
Our family pediatrician is retiring and passing the baton to another doctor.
How is this possible?
This is the guy who held my infant firstborn. And each newborn that followed.
He listened to my naive new mommy questions (I just don’t think that umbilical cord looks right) and he listened to my mommy-in-the-trenches questions (If my kids have chicken pox and I’m immune, but we have chickens in the backyard, can the virus somehow reach my unborn baby?) and he listened to my old mommy questions (His massive stretch marks are from growing six inches a year!? Really?).
He listened to the kids’ questions (If I’m super careful can I still play basketball with my broken arm?).
He always treated us with respect and understood that mom usually knows best, even if once in a while, her instincts were going against a doctor’s recommendations.
He was there with an epic X-ray when my 2 year old swallowed the metal marble from our Mousetrap Game.
He was there when my 7 year old spent a long night in the hospital with appendicitis.
He crazy glued my 9 year old’s heel back into position when the tidepool sliced it open.
He stapled my 8 year old’s scalp back together when a trampoline jump went awry.
He stitched another 3 year old’s forehead into a Harry Potter scar.
He’s done sports physicals on 16 year old kids who topped him by a solid eight inches and never missed a beat.
He stood by patiently while I explained that the first cast he put onto my son’s leg was removed the next day by said son in the garage with a power tool and we were back to try again.
Maybe a cast-iron cast this time?
He advised on concussions and bedwetting and taught me what Fifths Disease is. He passed out tetanus shots and circumcisions. He measured and weighed and poked and prodded.
My children have never been afraid of going to the doctor.
We sent him Christmas cards.
Granted, my youngest child is now a ridiculous 14 years old.
But if I had to choose a doctor for myself, it would be this pediatrician, diapers implied or not.
When I first met him, he was young and sported a tidy dark beard, glasses that framed twinkling eyes, and wearing his crisp white coat. The proverbial stethoscope always sat in his front pocket.
When we saw him last summer, I noticed his beard was quite gray. His eyes still twinkled but were surrounded with smile lines and crows feet. His coat remained crisp and white.
He may have seemed a little shorter. But then, my youngest had grown so much taller.
He moved a little slower and listened a little longer. He asked about my firstborn.
If you must go, Dr. M, please take the love and thanks of our family with you.
Because of you, I had the courage to face germs and blood and needles and tears. I knew you were there to back me up 24/7 and I’m sure we caused more than one of your gray hairs.
Thank you for helping our kids remain more or less in one piece after all these years.
They have scars and embellished stories to go with them, but I think you should have the bragging rights to the job.
Anybody can break stuff.
Only the gifted can put it all back together again.