I’m not sure where the time has gone, but somehow nearly four years have passed since I turned 40. Since then, I realize I’ve written more than a few posts about some major events in my family. This Motivation Monday post is all about another one.
At the end of this month, my 81-year-old father will retire from practicing internal medicine. After 50 years and change as a physician, I’d say he’s more than earned some time off.
This past Friday, my mom and I were blessed to witness something extraordinary at the office where he treated hundreds of patients of all ages, races and creeds since the late 1960s. His amazing staff – who has become part of our family over all these years – organized a wonderful sendoff. During the couple of weeks leading up to it, Dad kept saying he didn’t expect too many people to show up since the gathering was taking place on a Friday afternoon. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Patients arrived prior to the start time and stayed long after the “official” 3pm wrap up. Dozens of those patients were men and women close to my age, who all started seeing my Dad when they were 17 or 18 years old. Others started their visits with Dad in their 40s, and are now pushing 90 or older. (I met one gentleman who will celebrate his 99th birthday next month.) One couple drove for more than an hour to personally thank my Dad for treating their mother with so much care and compassion for decades up until her passing earlier this year. Some walked from their homes just a few blocks away while others drove many miles to wait in the hallway until there was enough space inside the office to give my Dad a great big hug and wish him well as he starts his adventures of retirement.
Each patient had his or her own unique medical history, but they all shared one common thread. Most of my introductions started with a wide-eyed “Oh, you’re the daughter! I recognize you from all the photos I’ve seen of you and your Mom all these years!” After that, everyone I met said the same exact thing: “I’m going to miss your Dad so much. They just don’t make doctors like him anymore.” So many patients – the Vietnam Veteran who survived a heart attack and the countless men and women who beat some form of cancer because Dad caught it early – told Mom and me time and time again “if it wasn’t for Dr. DeAngelis, I wouldn’t be here today.” Needless to say, more than a few tears welled up in my eyes that afternoon.
I also learned Dad wouldn’t be missed solely because of his knowledge of internal medicine. I heard story after story about about house calls, late night phone conversations and the extra time Dad took during office visits to learn what was happening behind the scenes in so many homes. Because of this, many grew to think of him as a trusted confidant and counselor. Dad never really adapted to the newer “rules” in medicine when it came to the shorter windows of time designated for doctor appointments. I have no doubt until he sees his very last patient a few weeks from now, the time he spends with each of them will go way beyond what the business of medicine now deems appropriate for an office visit.
I offer a heartfelt thank you to each and every patient who took the time to wish Dad a happy retirement. And my heart simply overflows with gratitude for his office staff. I know I speak on behalf of my mom when I say we will be forever grateful to this amazing group of women for taking care of him during all of those long days at the office. Some of the faces changed throughout the years, but they will forever remain a part of our family.
I close with this: I know this is a bittersweet time for my Dad, so I ask all you wonderful readers to keep him in your thoughts and prayers and he gets ready to face a new beginning. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to let the world know how proud I am to call Dr. Gabriel DeAngelis both my father and my friend. Stay tuned for more stories of our adventures together as he starts this new phase of his never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!