I believe what goes around comes around…
I had a seemingly routine day at work. As an orthopedic surgeon I was called to the emergency room for a child’s broken arm. I walked into a darkened room with a small child, wrapped in a blanket asleep, in his mother’s arms. I examined the x-ray and saw the broken arm and spoke softly to the mother. Suddenly the young boy awoke and clung to his mother. As I spoke to him, he clung even tighter. I asked his name and he was silent. Then I asked him how old he was and immediately got a response. “I’m four and a half.” His mother smiling said that a month ago it was only four fingers and now he is four and a half. We took care of his broken arm and he left the hospital with a green cast, a sling and a smile.
Later the same day during afternoon clinic, I walked into an exam room with a chart for Gertrude. Sitting in one chair was a well-dressed elderly woman and across the room was a woman who resembled her but 20 years younger.
“So who am I seeing today?”
She answered, “I’m Gertrude and this is my daughter.”
I went about my consultation asking about complaints and symptoms. I was determining the diagnosis and I had one last question.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“I’m 88 and a half,” she said proudly.
She told me to tell her daughter about the diagnosis and treatment plan as she could understand better and remember.
In this moment, the mother became the small child and the half-years returned.
It was the circle of life in one day. What goes around comes around.
A month later my own father was sick and was in the hospital. He struggled to get in and out of bed and as a former orderly I knew how to help him. In the bathroom he needed assistance with the most basic bodily functions. While I was cleaning him, it was obvious he was uncomfortable about needing help from his son.
“Isn’t this disgusting?” he said.
“Not at all, this is what I’m supposed to do. Look at it this way. You have wiped my ass more times in my life than I will ever do in yours.” I responded.
He looked at me. “That’s right,” he said with conviction.
And with that he became more comfortable getting help from me knowing he had helped me years before.
What goes around comes around.
At 60 years of age, I have the childhood years behind me. I have honored and valued every moment of my parents and I have treasured the moments in reverse with my six wonderful children, and I fully expect “the half’s” to return with age.
A month later, as I watched my oldest son changing his newborn son, I’m peaceful with the wisdom of “what goes around comes around.”