Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What will doctors do in heaven?

As we talked, I confided how silly I felt. I just wish I could know Dad was alright. After mom had died, I had a dream about her. It was 2 years later on Mother's Day but it was so comforting. Then I joked, Dad loved medicine so much that when he got to heaven he might take one look around and finding no work turn around to go where he would have more to do. Quickly adding I was kidding, tears had filled my eyes as I remembered him.

I knew he couldn't stay. His body was simply a shell, skin and bones cradling a remarkable soul. What a rascal he had been as a child. Growing into the man oft times known simply as Doc. A doctor with a gift of brilliance combined with keen insight and quick intuition, a lifesaving combination. Was he perfect? No, what man or woman is?

No, he could not stay. It was time. I knew it. I had said everything I wanted to say to this man that I loved, my Dad. Over the last several years we had spent a good deal of time together, although it never seemed like enough. I introduced him to Starbucks and frosted coffees. I made fun of his 2 cup coffee maker, "sacrilege". I fussed as he worked too hard in the yard; to no avail. He was as stubborn as the daughter he had fathered.

So, as I began the drive home that afternoon, I mindlessly listened to the radio. I remained lost in thoughts about the earlier conversation until... The announcer mentioned that they were going to have a segment on the things that we will not need in heaven. Oh, my, what are the odds of that? Startled I thought back on my earlier conversation when a caller rang in to say just what I was thinking. There will be no need for doctors because there will be no illness and death. But to my surprise the announcer questioned, "so what do you think all those doctors will do?" The caller laughed and quickly retorted, "play golf and garden".

You know what? Right then and there I understood God was reminding me. The man who loved medicine so much loved it because through medicine he could care for those he loved. But this man called Doc by so many also loved to golf, hunt, work in the yard, tell stories, and drink coffee. He loved dogs, children, and cars, oh he loved cars. And he loved history, music and God's green earth.

Many are probably thinking, really? Golf, gardening, coffee, this is a mighty worldly view of heaven. And you would be right. We will be about much more divine activities in heaven. But God knew I cannot possibly comprehend those, not right now, so He comforted me with what He knew I could understand.

It reminds me of the time one of my children demanded to know if there were going to be McDonalds in heaven? If there were not, she emphatically stated, she was not going. Well, indeed. Now, this was a dilemma. I could not lie and tell my child there would be McDonalds in heaven. But, I could say with certainty -  in heaven there will be everything we will ever need to make us happy and keep us satisfied forever. Amen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, It's what you leave behind you when you go… "

Michael Josephson once said, "What will matter is not your success but your significance..."

I have to agree.
And while Maynard William Bland had great success,
this is a time to remember the significance of the man known as:
Dr. Bland,

The son,
the brother,
the doctor,
the friend,
the co-worker,
the father,
and great-grandfather.

How do you begin to pay tribute to such a man. A man who was loving, complicated, passionate, stubborn, and brilliant.

He was a gifted doctor, a prankster and a story teller extraordinaire.

Dad loved people and in doing so he made memories with all of us
or as Garrison Keillor says stories.

Right now, I’m sure we are all recalling those stories.
Our own moments with this man who was probably the most colorful character any story could ever include.

I asked my aunt and uncle to tell me about dad when he was younger because I knew he was quite the pistol.
I love my Uncle Edward’s response, “he was not just a pistol, he was a rifle.
That sounds about right,
although if we are to do gun analogies perhaps the ole time Gaitlin gun –
might be the best comparison – rapid fire!

Over this last week, we listened to a lot of hymns, thank you BJ. But every now and again I would mix it up with a few Broadway tunes (Did you know Doc loved show tunes? Camelot, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof), Louie Armstrong, Contemporary Christian and Country.

One of my favorite songs by Randy Travis is Three Wooden Crosses.

"There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway
Why there's not four of them, Heaven only knows
I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you
It's what you leave behind you when you go…"

It goes on to say…

"That farmer left a harvest, a home and eighty acres
The faith an' love for growin' things in his young son's heart
An' that teacher left her wisdom in the minds of lots of children
Did her best to give 'em all a better start"

Well dad, left a lot behind him.

Allison, he loved animals. BJ tells me he once snuck a flying squirrel into the house and was raising it until it got out of his room. Wow, wouldn’t you have liked to be a ‘squirrel on the wall’ to take in the chaos that followed.
Not unlike the time you snuck a dead horseshoe crab into the trunk on the way home from Hilton Head. From what I heard the car started smelling and for a week no one could find the source of the odor…. until Dad finally opened the trunk. I bet that was quite a moment.

Bo, dad loved the outdoors and adventure. BJ tells me that after he graduated Furman he traveled with some class mates to Alaska to hunt for gold. The goal was to find enough gold to pay for his first year of medical school. Well, apparently they all ended up needing help to get home, no gold, but what an adventure.

Jordan, dad loved history and medicine. This fascination with medicine and history is a wonderful inheritance. As I look at the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I see these same themes, same loves and strengths continuing on.

"I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you
It's what you leave behind you when you go…"

I’m told he once held his sisters Miriam and BJ hostage behind a tree
with a BB gun and ordered them not to come out.
 Miriam defied BJ’s sisterly warning not to move, he was after all her brother.
She stuck her leg out, only to be shot…
probably with the same gun he used to nail a teacher in the behind,
as she innocently bent over to work in her yard.

Fortunately for all of us, he was as smart and as devoted as he was precocious.
He later became a General Practitioner in Ft. Inn serving for almost 60 years,
one of the youngest physicians ever licensed in the state of SC.

Dad had an awesome sense of humor.
Nothing delighted him more than a well-planned prank or a well-timed joke.
Yet, he was passionate and intense about justice, excellence, history, and politics.
He was a loyal soul.
Our whole life we watched as he cared tirelessly for this community.
To say we admired him is an understatement.
Monday through Saturday he worked in the office...Sunday if needed.
Wednesday afternoons he went golfing or hunting...
if he got off work in time.

Each day after seeing the last patients in the office,
he would go check on his patients in the hospital.
After seeing these patients and charting,
he would go home, have supper and then go make house calls....

Then he would get up the next day and do it all again...for years on end.
In his spare time he raised two families.
Suffice it to say, we have shared our dad with our hometown...
Sometimes this was not always easy;
but we sensed then what we know now,
it was the right thing to do.

It would seem as if this work schedule was grueling enough.
However, apparently Dad found enough spare time the first twenty years in private practice to deliver babies in his office and at the hospital!
We still chuckle when we recall how my sister Allison proudly informed a nurse at the hospital,
"My daddy made that baby."
Hmmm.... did he now?

He is proud to say he never lost a mom.
Only one infant was lost due to a congenital heart malformation.
As a former labor and delivery nurse, this record in and of itself, is amazing.

 There in his office, in this hometown clinic, we watched
and learned more than we ever realized.
Oh, how true, "more is caught than taught."
This humble clinic in this small town is where we learned the most important lessons in life.
"I guess "it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you
It's what you leave behind you when you go…"

We love you, Daddy. We are comforted knowing that you are in heaven. And one day we will see you again.

For those of us left without him I draw great comfort from the words of
Peter Marshall. And I would like to share them with you.

 “Those we love are with the Lord
And the Lord has promised to be with us.
If they are with Him,
And He is with us,
They cannot be far away”.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Teeny, tiniest Baby Girl...

The Girl with Sparkles in her Eyes

Such a tiny little girl, with
Pixies dancing in her world.
Dark eyes like a chikapin,
Sparkling, your heart she’ll win.
Secret Garden keeper too
Flowers, sunshine, colors blue.

Pretty princess, lovely girl,
Creator of her fairy world.
Soul as deep as the ocean blue,
Caring child, with a heart that’s true.
Highlights crown her long brown hair,
Which changes like the clothes she wears.

Math, skateboards, not her friends,
But, she will try them to the end.
How can such a tiny girl,
Leader of the Fairy World,
Be so strong, so brave, so kind?
Why that’s what warriors do I find.

And so the precious, Baby Girl,
Swinging, dancing, she will twirl,
A southern spitfire through and through,
Don’t let her light into you,
Now that you are growing up,
You and your spoiled rotten pup,
I’ll hold my breath as you take flight,
Off into the starry night.

We love you CJ!