Many of you may recall having read these lines from past Thanksgivings; it is a retelling of a visit I had with one of my patients during this time of year—a woman whose life and struggles were unlike mine in many ways, but who nevertheless taught me many things about courage and integrity.
I hope you enjoy these words, and have a blessed Thanksgiving week.
• • •
Allow me to spin upon the spindle
a tale of an encounter true.
A patient once, a homeless mum,
her words now shared with you:
The hour of autumn arrives anew
when mirth and feasts abound.
But let me confess my days to you,
true gifts which have been found…
The steady cadence of my heart,
voice to praise when souls fall dark,
vision to behold each fresh day’s start-
For this, I am thankful.
The assured exhale of every breath,
joys gone by, its memories kept,
cloth to shield from winter’s death-
For this, I am thankful
Days when I can veil my cries,
days I look you in the eyes,
to know on night lies brighter skies-
For this, I am thankful.
So for this…I am thankful.
I had lunch with a homeless man.
But not just any man. An elderly man, a former high school teacher…and a former patient of mine from a charity clinic where I used to work.
It happened as I was driving through downtown, stopped at a light beneath an overpass. Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice.
Since we were both hungry, we did the natural thing: we went for lunch at a nearby cafe. Despite intrigued glances from others, we had a lovely lunch. Looking back, it may have been one of the most enjoyable lunches I’ve ever had.
A few days later, I was contacted by the clinic who informed me that I had received a letter from a patient. And here I will share it with you—in a form put into verse by me but which maintains its original wording:
Dear doc, you have been so kind to me.
Why, you even took me to lunch.
I wish I could give you something in return,
but I know I don’t have much.
So I write these simple words to you
in hope that on those days
that they’ll make you smile and give you strength
and peace in many ways.
You are a doctor to many,
but an angel you have been to me,
who encouraged, cared, and healed my pain,
and a light you made me see.
I am sad that you are no longer my doc
but am glad that you are my friend.
And I hope we can keep in touch
until the very end.
So why did I share this? Because I was “challenged” by Liz to give a gift to someone. But now I realize—I don’t think I succeeded in giving anything to anyone.
Rather, the gift was given to me.