A few months ago I had a chance to see my patient and friend Márgaret Karlssonfor the last time; She Was really sick and I promised her when she got well, I would have a picnic with lamb at our farm, and I will invite her. She smiled, and said, “Yes, I would like that, please do it.” Unfortunately just a week after that, news came that she had died at the Central Washington Hospital. I attended her funeral at the Chapel of Memories, in Moses Lake. The pastor who officiated the service acknowledged that he had never seen Mrs. Karlsson, but he heard that her hobby was gardening and the Pastor had to invent from the Bible all about gardening.
However, sitting and listening to the service, I had lots of memories about Mrs. Karlsson. I wished I could get up and tell him what a great lady she was. It was 1983, after I moved to this area and bought a farm, that I met Mrs. Karlsson. I was driving from the service road, going from Dodson Road to Moses Lake when I saw hundreds of sheep grazing on a small piece of land, and the instinct led me to her house. I was expecting to see a couple of strong shepherds caring for this large flock. To my amazement, it was a lady of 82 years, with a big stick in her hand who had suffered a stroke 1 or 2 years earlier. She had a nice garden, a husband who was crippled, in a wheel chair, to take care of. I felt that this lady was one of those from Biblical times, and you can not find too many of her stature. I immediately became not only her physician, but her friend. She would invite me to her house, be sure that she had some of her produce given to my children, and some of her incubating birds going to my farm. She was one of the few ladies whom I addressed, not by her first name as I do to most of my patients, but as Mrs. Karlsson. Indeed, she used to address her husband by Mr. Karlsson. I remember how she told me when she chased a burglar who tried to steal her sheep, with a shotgun. I remember her husband, Mr. Karlsson, who died a few months before her, when he used to come to my office and give me a military salute. I remember him to be a gentleman, who talked nicely about his accomplishment in the military, and his brothers in Sweden.
Many of my patients who passed away had left something which stays in our memory. Cora Ford, the nice lady who was in a good humor all the time, Edna McFarland the very good natured lady who always asked, “Doctor, how long do you think I will live?” and she would smile. George Neese, the generous one who wanted to give me a piece of land in Canada so I could build a cottage close to his. Lloyd Shumaker, the good Samaritan, who always was there to bring any of the Senior Citizens who wanted to come to the office or to go out of town. We used to tease him about his crew and the widows he was bringing all the time. Sheila Fread, who was excited that her life was stable and things are put together, Caleb Canaday, the fair minded man who was concerned about the people in Palestine who are uprising against the Israeli occupation. He used to tell me, “Doctor, just get me well and I will go there and help those people.” Tamara Bashencko, the Russian lady from the Ukraine who just immigrated to this country, though I met her only briefly, I felt very intense with this lady who was proud that she was a Lutheran, who escaped from persecution. Helen Chornuk, who was there any time with her daughter, Carol, or grandchildren were to come to the office, she would bring them any time, day or night with her long station wagon. Ruth Kruger, the stubborn old lady who wanted to follow her own way. Leon Eberlein, who was more concerned about his wife than himself. Abdon Vasquez, the Spanish who spoke very little English, who most of the time came to my home rather than the office to seek medical help, whom I persuaded to take his wife aim children to Mexico after almost 20 years of hard work without taking a vacation. Roland Stader, the very loyal husband who was always around his wife in the nursing home. To John Marti, the immigrant from Switzerland, who was considered by the nurses and the staff as angry all the time, though I knew him as a peaceful person and every time he got angry, by talking to him about Switzerland, and the land he left behind, he would become like a small baby, who helped my little girl write an essay about Switzerland. Vivian Perez, the Spanish lady, though she was dying, she would come to the office and with her broken English, would ask every time about my family and children, and in her last minutes would tell me she was ready to go. Loosemore, the one I visited the day he died, who tried to apologize for not coming back to my office after he started doctoring in Wenatchee. To Walter Bomstad the gentle character who alwaysfinished his words by saying swell. To Marilyn Mauck, the nice lady ho ever missed any of her appointments, to Art Sorrel, who always insisted on using his pickup in order to haul some thing to my farm. To Callaway Cassal, the 90 year old, at one time, the rancher of the year, who always insisted on paying his bill in cash because he did not want to owe anything o anybody, who at the time of moving to stay with his daughter in Oregon, &. was still taking his girlfriend to dancing. To Howard Copton, the quiet and hard working individual, who otherwise was in good health when his death came suddenly, whom I remember with great affection. To the Hunter, who in spite of a stroke and his inability to speak would get emotional and excited every time he saw me, trying to say something but when I used to shake his hand and hug him, he would calm down. To Jack Endicott, the nursing home patient who ‘never missed his brandy, whom I have a kick every time I wanted to have a live conversation with him by mentioning the French, since he was very much against them because according to him they did not treat him well after World War II. To Chloe Sage, the almost 100 year old nice lady who at that age was still alert, and whose only regret was being unable to crochet. To Adeline Cunningham the tiny old lady with her cane, coming to the office and asking me to visit her mobile home, which I did, and her husband who followed-her very shortly. To John Kretz, the smiling patient who used to be in good humor – and smiling every time is devoted wife would bring him to the office. And more important, to Dr. Piper, the compassionate and dedicated physician, whom I got to .know the last few months of his life, with his great satisfaction that I came in time to take over his practice and take care of his patients, and o many others I remember. Bertha, Greg, Bob Silva, Maria Garcia, the Bercholters, Bob Seals, Anna Carr, Drittenbass, the Smiths, Earl Free, the Exeter , Arron Abbott, Elmer Jacobson, Joanne Lemanski, Calixta Boruff, Henry Kaufman, the Herring, Singer, the compassionate R.N. Marian Patrick, Aileen Mathis, Luther Moreno, the Woodiwiss, my clinic neighbor the Lathrop, etc.
As a physician, I have seen any deaths during my medical career, but the first time I felt deep in my heart, while training in Canada, when a patient of mine who was an immigrant form Hungary was dying I took his hand, and he was deeply sad and crying. He was waiting for his wife to join him from Hungary after so many ears of waiting, he told me that he does not mind dying, by he wished he could be alive when she arrived in Canada so they could celebrate their freedom. A few years later I was in similar circumstances when my father in Saudi Arabia was dying and not being able to be at his bed side. Then came the saddest day of my life when my Aunt, who raised me and my brothers as her children after my Mother died, who wanted to see my children before she went blind and when she became ill and we were preparing to go and see her, nets came she passed away without touching and talking to my children. Life has taught me to accept this life as passing to the Eternal Life in the Day—after. My religion, Islam, teaches that the human soul will not be extinguished by death, it shall continue to live through. out the long period which separates our Physical death from our resurrection,, and such a life is required for spiritual life until the Day of Judgment.
“On that day, men will come forth as scattered individuals so that they may be shown their works, so whoever does an atom weight of good shall see it, and whoever does an atom of evil will see it.” Koran 99—6—8.
To all those patients with whom I had mutual affection and respect——to those who died, but don’t remember their homes at this moment——to my friends who passed away——to my parents—— to my Aunt Afeefa who waited for me to cross “The Seven Oceans” to be at her bed side before she died——To all those beloved people——I bow my head in prayer. Amen.
Mohammad Said, M.D.