As some of you may know, my father was a doctor. I often quote him or remember something he did or thought. He had, I admit an enormous influence on me, including my feeling that I have to justify my existence every day. He was very demanding, but loving and generous, too, and open to change. He was a family practitioner, one of the prime movers in the founding of the College of General Practice in Canada. One of its principles was that each member maintain and increase his medical knowledge annually, this, to provide some guarantee that doctors , especially country ones, keep abreast of current strides and not just slide along on what they had learned ten, twenty, thirty years before. Of course, their strength was in their holistic knowledge of the families they treated. They listened to their patients.
My father listened to people, carefully, every day. Sometimes he would comment, with rueful humour, as when he learned of third-generation incest in a family, that he must have missed that day at medical school, when the subject was taken up. (It wasn’t.) Anyway, getting to my point (slowly), because he listened to other people’s aches, pains and complaints all day he wanted good news when he came home. Just the good news, please, at the family dinner table, and a bit of humour would help. He wanted us to be well and happy. I was sent home twice from school, at recess, once with mumps and once with chicken pox, because my dad deemed me well enough to struggle gamely forth. To this day, when I go to see my doctor and he asks me how I am, I always answer brightly, “Just fine!” though I made the appointment to deal with a problem. I was expected to be well and I expect to be well. That’s probably why I had such trouble with my leg wound earlier this year. I expected to be well and was impatient with its reluctance to heal. Obviously that attitude has its limitations and hazards, but I think it has advantages, too. I am slow to admit that I have a problem and I am even slower to take a pill. I don’t call a doctor at every mishap because i don’t want to be a bother. I firmly believe that if everyone felt like that, the pressures and costs of universal medical care would go down. I suppose the doctors’ incomes would, too.
This was going to be by way of a preamble to something else I wanted to discuss, but that’s enough for now. What’s your family like?