Because I said I would.

“When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. – Numbers 30:2 NIV

In this time of my life, I have been remembering my Pop who was the first man I loved. Would he be proud of his daughter? Would he like the person that I have become? Can I ever live up to he example that the set for me in the joyous life that he led? He was a giant man, in my young eyes riding on his shoulders as I did so often. (I was his first daughter and spent hours at his feet telling what I had learned about everything.)  He had a ready smile and flashing blue eyes that twinkled with his wonderful accent when he teased his beloved patients. He teased me when I struggled to stay awake during mare foaling season when I would hang out in the barn at night to help deliver the new foals. “You won’t stay awake and they are always born between 2 AM and 5 AM,” he said.  “I will bet ya, magpie!” (He called me “magpie” because I talked incessantly, questioning everything and everyone). Yes, I lost the bet but he would make sure one of the grooms awakened me for the births. That was my Pop.

My Pop told me that when I make a vow to do something, I could not break my word. “Don’t make that vow unless you plan to do what you say,” he would counsel. I still remember his words when I say that I am going to do something or make a promise. “Promise me,” he said, “that you won’t let anyone hook me to any machines.” He grabbed my hand right after suffering a massive myocardial infarction (heart attack). “When the hand of God is tapping me on the shoulder, don’t you let anyone slam that window”.  And I didn’t. His heart was weakened to the point that he went into renal failure and died 36 hours later. This was the last vow that I made to my Pop.

I learned loyalty from my Pop. He lived by what he taught me. “You have to love everyone or love no one,” he said often. He loved and respected everyone regardless of where he found them or how they treated him. He didn’t just put people in compartments, he put them in his heart which grew bigger and bigger, the longer he lived. He happily made house calls and would listen to his patients very carefully and calmly. They knew he loved them as he cared for them at any hour of the day or night. I remember him quietly sneaking into my graduation ceremony because he had been called away for a patient. I never minded because I never doubted his unconditional love for me.

“You are the physician, dearie” he said, long before I made the decision to attend medical school. He died before my medical school acceptance. He always knew that I would be a physician even when I would boldly state, “Medicine is the prostitution of good science and I am a good scientist”.  He would just laugh out loud at me. I vow to become the person that my Pop would be proud of on this anniversary of his death. I vow Pop!


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