Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Father's Son

There are pilgrimages that are finite.  The kind documented in diaries with color photographs and blurbs scribbled with ballpoint pens in black ink.  Then there are the ephemeral journeys that we stumble upon over lifetimes.  Where conclusions are sparse and understanding brings more pressing questions.

For the first seven years of my life, I took my father's presence for granted.  I have spent the last thirty one trying to find him.  Even though I have lost and found myself several times in the process, I am no closer than when I first started.  Unfortunenately my empirical premise is flawed.  I am no more my father than my son is me.   How could I be?  His father didn't leave him when he was a little boy.  Yet I choke on the similarities.  My life's choices are peppered with filial flavorings. 

I have followed his footsteps in so many ways.  I coapted his profession.  Yet I am a much different physician.  While I may have never known the man, I am intimately acquainted with the doctor.  I studied his notebooks and hob knobbed with his colleagues.  We could not be more different.  An oncologist by trade, he was a master of the science of medicine.  His writings are littered with miniscule data and detailed tables and figures.  My eyes glaze over.

The art of medicine has always been more captivating to me.  I would trade the textbooks any day for a touch of the hand, a glint of an eye, or the subconscious tells that each patient manifests.  My wanderings have lead me to end of life care.  Who better to translate the dance of mortality than one caught in the cross hairs for a few odd decades.

And my travels continue deep into the heart of hospice and palliative medicine.  Stuck in the imaginings of a little boy, I strive to bring the peace to families and undo the death that befell me so early.  But no matter how many people I help depart, I can't rewrite my own past.

I struggle.  I am flawed.  I attempt to appreciate the beauty of my own mortal wounds. 

There are pilgrimages that are finite.  And there are those we stumble upon over lifetimes.  Conclusions are sparse. 

And understanding brings more pressing questions.

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