Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Greatest man I ever knew

The world lost a great man on Saturday.

I had the privilege to know him, to work for him and call him my friend.
That sounds so little. I can't find the words for what he was to me.
He was a great man and wonderful doctor. Rarely shall the twain meet. I have only seen it once in my life.
His wisdom and knowledge were unsurpassed.
He taught me: If I'll lie for you, I'll lie to you.
and that there's another part to Great minds think alike...it is: or fools seldom deviate.
If it weren't for these patients that trust me, I'd be just a man with a piece of paper.
Every person no matter their lot in this world deserves respect. You don't know what they've been through.
People will treat you with respect, if you act like you deserve it.
I have never seen a man who had so much to brag about, be so humble in my life.
He would always say, "Mrs A, I'm the son of pig farmers, if I can do this, anybody can."
And he ALWAYS, but always called his "girls" Mrs. whatever their last name was. He respected us. We loved him. Other than my husband, I can honestly say I have never respected another human being so much.
There were times when I could have spit nails I was so mad at him. Appointments started at 9:00 am, I would be lucky if he got there by 11:00. An older gentleman would come in and say, "I know Jack's not here. I just went by his place and he was still mowing the lawn". And he would sit down and wait. All his patients waited. They knew when it was their turn he would spend an hour with them too, if they needed it. You see, he didn't just treat what they came in for that day. He KNEW them, their family, their jobs, their kids. And what was going on in their lives right then.
We would call Mrs. Garrison to "tell on him". Anything from being way too late to being gruff with us. She say,"now girls, give him a break. He was at the nursing home, at the hospital, had to go to some one's house (yes, he still made house calls til almost the end of his career).I'll talk to him when he gets home." I have no idea if she did "talk" to him, because he never said a word about us calling her and telling on him.
A patient was never,ever turned away because they couldn't pay right then or didn't have their co-pay up front. He would not stand for that.
I think about that every time I go to the Dr and the nice girl asks for my co-pay up front. Jack Garrison would have had somebodies head on a platter for that.
The man had a presence and deep voice that filled up a room. There was never any doubt when he was in the room.
I once called him a butt head! I do believe I may have been the only person who dared say that to his face. It is a fond memory :) He had a bad habit of throwing the days mail at my head every morning (afternoon) when he came into the office. I was always able to catch it. Except once. It hit me right in the head. Before I thought (trust me,BEFORE I thought) I said,"you butt head". He laughed so hard I thought he would choke. It's a laugh I hope I never forget. For many years my Christmas card was signed, Your favorite butt head. I loved that man.
Once after I thought he was particularly mean, I told him the M.D after his name, certainly did not mean medical Dr. It had to be MEAN DR. He made me go in the room of every patient that day and tell them what the M.D meant. He thought it was Hilarius.
Even after my husband received orders away from VA.Beach I could count on a call about every 6 months. Our calls started with "Is this Msssss A." (the Mrs & my last name was drawn waaaaaaay out) And I would say," Is this the meanest Dr in the world? He'd say "yes it is, so I guess we've both got the right people." I love that man. We'd exchange small talk for awhile, mostly family, me crying, because I couldn't find another Dr. like him to work for in the place. And all would be right with the world for a while longer. Last Christmas he called me on Christmas day, it was the best present.
He was also a man with the heart the size of,well, him. He was giant. He had nine kids. 3 home grown & 6 store bought. If you every see me use that terminology, that's pure Dr. Garrison. Blame him.
In our last conversation, he said, "Mrs A I'm proud of what you're doing down there". Meaning foster care & David. I got to tell him that greater men than me had gone on before me to show me the way. He cried. He had just lost his beloved wife Mary of nearly 60 years. He loved her with such devotion. They did not celebrate yearly anniversaries, but if I remember correctly monthly anniversaries. I can't count how many times that man would leave in the middle of the day to go to the card store to get an anniversary card. That my friends, is a great man. I often wondered how many cards she had from so many months of anniversaries.
After he retired I begged him teach at a medical school. I'm sure you already know this, but they don't teach doctors to be good human beings. What he had, I'm not so sure you could teach anyway. Either you got it or you don't. And now the insurance companies would just take it from you anyway. I know there isn't a CPT code for listening and caring.
I have a million Jack Garrison stories, but my eyes are so raw now I can barely keep them open.
I'll have to remember to tell you the billfold story. Right now my eyes & heart can't take anymore.


Mari said...

I've worked with lots of Dr's and there are not many like this. He sounds like an amazing man and a wonderful Dr. He has left a great legacy with you!

Last Mom said...

Beautiful post! I'm sorry for your loss. He sounds like a one a kind man.


What a sweet tribute to your friend. I am so sorry for your loss and so glad that he was a part of your life. He sounded like an amazing blessing.

Perri said...

What great memories and wonderful stories. Makes me wish I could have known him.