This past week my mother, four sisters, all of our spouses and I celebrated my Dad’s retirement after over four decades of surgery. It was wonderful to gather together to hear his surgery stories and to give tributes to his incredible career. I wrote:
On Father’s Day several years ago, I interviewed my dad to hear his perspective on the role of a teacher. He humbly quoted these words by renowned author C.S. Lewis. “There are no ordinary people. You and I have never talked to a mere mortal.”
My Dad lived out these words every day of his career. Whether showing medical students the best practices in surgery, teaching Bible studies to residency students, chatting with the cafeteria cooks, or explaining medical procedures to concerned patients and their families, Dad talked to everyone with dignity and respect. He knew he wasn’t working with “mere mortals,” but with precious people created in the image of God. While treating their physical bodies, he also offered spiritual medicine for their souls.
At the start of his studies, when Dad attended an interview for medical school, the interviewers asked why he wanted to attend medical school rather than seminary. They believed his passion for his faith made him better suited to be a pastor than a physician. However, Dad believed he would have more opportunities to share the gospel with people in need if he became a surgeon. As a doctor, he could help people who would never step foot in a church. Also, he wanted to be like Christ, the Great Physician.
Over the past forty-three years, Dad has lived up to this dream, serving as the hands and feet of Christ in his community. Not only was Dad one of the best surgeons in the area, but he became an incredible teacher and mentor of the profession. He not only changed the lives of thousands of patients, but also those of the doctors who trained under his experienced hands. Dad is no “mere mortal,” but an extraordinary role model. Although the doors to his physical office are closing, his legacy of integrity, excellence, dedication, and faith will live on.