Saturday, February 23, 2013

The times.

I gave the door the obligatory tap before entering.

Knock, knock, knock.

I pushed the door open and found this regal Grady elder sitting in a chair. Her elbow was perched upon the desk and her cheek was resting in her hand. Her eyes were closed and her bosom rose and fell rhythmically. She looked so peaceful. I hated to even bother her.

"Hey there. . . . " I spoke quietly.

Her eyes opened slowly and her head turned in my direction. A smile unfolded across her face like a dinner napkin. "Heeey, sugar."

Sugar. Yes.

She was beautiful. Her coffee-colored skin was striking against the closely cropped mane of white curls that framed her face. You could tell that someone had lovingly placed rows of hair rollers into her fine hair as it remained separated by perfect geometric parts -- each curl in its own rectangle. That made me smile as I imagined her in a beauty shop similar to my own and myself in the same some forty years from now.

"I'm Dr. Manning and I'm the senior doctor working with your doctor today. I hated to wake you up looking so peaceful like that."

She softened her eyes and rested them on my own. Something about her expression was so inviting and . . . .approving even. I could tell that she was surveying my face, my presence and taking it all in."Did you say you're a doctor? The senior doctor here?"

"Yes, ma'am," I responded quickly, deferentially. I pulled my shoulders back and stood a little taller. I glanced over at the intern standing directly behind me. "I work with your doctor. We always put our heads together since we think two brains is better than one."

But she just sat there. Still smiling that layered and complex smile directly at me. After a few moments of silence, she lifted her chin and nodded her head.

I perched onto the edge of the chair across from her as my intern leaned against the sink. We reviewed the plans for adjusting her blood pressure pills and congratulated her on doing such a great job with managing her blood sugars. Together, my intern and I examined her knee--which had been giving her some trouble--and I listened to her heart and lungs, too. Beyond that, I just reinforced the excellent plan that her resident physician had already put together.

"It was an honor to meet you, Mrs. Farmer."  I shook her hand and paused. I wanted her to know that I meant that.

Her face returned to that same look. Distant, thoughtful, layered with complexity. She jutted out her bottom lip and nodded at me. "Just as it was an honor to meet you, Dr. Manning," she replied.

Then we both just sat there with our hands intertwined, as if to seal the moment. Just then, I noticed her eyes glistening with tears.

"These is some proud times we in, Dr. Manning," she finally said. "Some proud times." She shook my hands when she said that but kept holding them tightly.

My face started warming up and my eyes immediately began to prickle. I didn't dare let go, though.

"Do you remember when the hospital was still segregated?" I asked.

"Dr. Manning? I remember that and a whole lot more."

I nodded in response and my voice softened in quiet reflection."Yes, ma'am."

It was silent for another moment. But for some reason, nothing about it was awkward.

"The senior doctor here, you say?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Mmmm. I feel so proud when I hear you say that. The senior doctor here." She shook her head. "Look like I just want to shout when I think about that."

Saying that made something stir inside of her. She tapped her foot and clamped down on my hands and decided not to fight the urge.

"Hallelujah! Thank ya, sir!" Her foot kept tapping and her face was now pointed toward the heavens. "My, my, my! Thank ya, Father! Aaaaah. . . yes. . . . hallelujah! Thank ya, sir!!"

I didn't know what to say. So I just squeezed her hands with both of mine to let her know I was getting it and feeling it, too. Touching and agreeing and appreciating it.

And her.

A few moments later, she returned her hands back to her lap and smiled at me once more. I finally thought of something to say. "Thank you for encouraging me, Mrs. Farmer."

"No, sugar. Thank you for encouraging me."

I slipped out of her room and stood frozen on the other side of the door. I let the emotion wane and eventually headed back down the hall.  Head up, shoulders back. . . . and wanting nothing more than to live up to these proud times.

Story image




Happy Saturday. This is Grady.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . ."The Sweetest Days We'll Know" as sung by the lovely Vanessa Williams. The perfect soundtrack to this moment.


  1. Because I see things in a non-religious way, I honor all of the people who came before you and give credit to them and their bravery. And to you who, even with the love and support and beliefs given to you by your wonderful parents, still had to deal with things I'm sure you don't talk about to get to where you are...Senior Doctor.
    And I, too, am overwhelmed and I, too, have cried at the relief of walls torn down, of injustices made just, of dreams come true.
    I stand in awe of the human spirit. Of people fighting for the right for their children to live in a world where every child is equal, not just in theory, but in law and in reality.
    And you- you are that dream come true in the flesh. What joy you bring to your beloved elders! And you know that and you know why and it's such a beautiful, powerful thing.

  2. You know what, Sister Moon? I'm just glad to be here. Man, I am.

    And yes, I do love the elders. You know I do.

  3. Awwwww. I love your writing: some poignant. I feel like I was there.

    And I'm touched. I'm touched by how meaningful this moment was. I'm touched by how this elder was able to transcend the mundane medical stuff to focus on the part that was truly amazing.

    Encouraged in my own walk,

    1. Thank you, Abigail.That's one of my favorite things about working at Grady Hospital--the moments like this.

  4. Beautiful! I can imagine how that made you feel! I read this and wish that the students I work with daily had a CLUE what price was paid for us to have the opportunities available to us. SO many of them take it for granted. It really makes me sad! I remind them daily, but it just seems they don't receive it!

    I don't know you, and I'm from your generation, but I'm as proud of you as that elder was that day!

    For this, they fought, suffered and died......

    It is indeed an honor to live up to the dream!

    Delta Love,

  5. Forge on Dr.Manning. Worship of GOD through service to mankind.

    Dr.Shindler, fellow Meharrian

  6. It is a rare and beautiful thing--that kind of moment and the acknowledgement of that moment. So many of us waste so much time and energy on wishing, hoping, praying for the future when the life we are meant to live is right before us with untold riches if we choose to see them. I give thanks for your clear vision...
    Love, Coach B

    1. I feel fortunate to be here. Thanks for being you.

      xo, KImberly


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