It’s been two and a half years since Mom passed on. For the most part, she was a bitter, hard woman. On occasion, there were moments when she let down her guard and it is these moments upon which I choose to reflect. I smile as I think back on the time when I was trying to get her to see my doctor.
“Mom, I know you would like my doctor. Your doctor has retired and you have to be seen to get your medication refilled.”
“That’s your opinion on the matter! Doctors are all the same! Self-righteous, wealthy preachers! I’m tired of paying someone to pass judgment on me and preach at me for smoking!”
“Mom, they are no more all the same than we are. He is a very warm, kind man and an excellent doctor. I know he would treat you well. Please let me make an appointment?”
Mom leaned back on the couch and put her feet on the table while lighting another cigarette. The smoke curled in front of her face and I knew this was her attempt to put the wall up between us. Had I not wished so badly that she didn’t smoke; I would have found the rebellious look on her face endearing. After a few deliberately slow puffs, she spoke again in a snide tone. “Well, according to what you say about this doctor of yours, he is something just short of God!”
“Oh, really Mom! He’s a very good doctor and because I Love you I want him to look after you! I’ve known him for a long time and I trust him. Now please, may I make the call?” I was beginning to feel frustrated and the smoke-filled room wasn’t helping.
“Oh, do it if you must!” she retorted. "I wouldn’t bother if I didn’t need my medication. That’s how they get you! They keep you coming back for medications you can’t live without so they can pad their pockets!” With this, she leaned back and crossed her arms. It was clear that our conversation was over. I made the appointment and left in the midst of a barrage of expletives about doctors.
Driving home, I couldn’t help feeling guilty about subjecting my doctor to Mom, but I wanted someone I trusted to look after her. Whether or not she would be willing to admit it, I knew she would see in him what I admired.
To my dismay, on the hour-long drive to the clinic I was subjected to more of Mom’s “truth” about doctors. In the waiting room, I silently prayed. Mom was mumbling something about being charged for time in the waiting room, when the nurse called her name.
After she was weighed and had her blood pressure taken, we had another few tense moments of waiting. My doctor then entered the room and introduced himself to Mom. I watched in awe as she visibly relaxed and even laughed with him at something he’d said! He went on with a general exam and asked her how she was feeling. He asked her if she smoked and I thought I would die! To my surprise, she looked him square in the eye and said with a smile, “Yes, and now you can tell me I should stop.”
“Well,” he smiled back, “I wouldn’t be much of a doctor if I didn’t tell you that you should quit.” Mom chuckled. They discussed her risks of stroke and diagnostic tests she should undergo. He earnestly invited her to call him if there was anything she needed. He wrote her prescription, told her he was glad to have met her, and left the room.
On the drive back, Mom was unusually quiet and didn’t speak until we were home and I was making coffee. “Okay, so you were right. He is different, refreshingly different. He has kind eyes.”
I had planned to leave early, but I realized that this would be one of those rare, sweet moments I shouldn’t miss. I sat in the chair opposite her and marveled at how beautiful she could be when disarmed.
She went on. “The eyes are the soul’s windows. I saw in his eyes that he really was different. I saw no judgment and he seemed genuinely concerned.” She fell quiet again. I was content to just look into her now beautiful, reflective eyes and I thought, “Yes, Mom, the eyes truly are the windows to the soul.”
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