Mind, Body & Spirit

Remembering when doctors made house calls

When I was in elementary school, on occasion I would miss school because of illness. Usually I would be suffering from a sore throat. If I had a fever, my mother would summon the doctor. In those days, the doctor made house calls, and our family doctor would give me a shot of antibiotics and also prescribe them to take orally.  In a few days, I would recover and be good as new.

After the doctor left, my mother would go to work. I’d lie in my parents’ bed and watch television, which was a treat reserved for sick days. But one time that I was home with a strep throat, I remember getting out of bed and going to the window to look outside. I was greeted by a sight that filled me with joy and wonderment.

In the Douglas fir outside the window was a bird’s nest. When I saw the mother bird, a robin, tending to her nestlings, I was filled with ecstasy. I couldn’t stop staring at the mother bird and her young. I think that as I watched the mother bird, I thought of my own mother who loved and cared for me, her child, and how blessed we are to have mothers.

In Judaism, when we pray for someone who is ill, we mention their Hebrew name along with their mother’s name, and if we don’t know their mother’s name, we say “… ben or bat Sarah” (son or daughter of Sarah), referring to the matriarch Sarah. May we all pray only for continued good health for our loved ones.

Steven Freedman, who suffers from schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, lives in Tucson and writes short stories and novels.