“The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.” ~ Joan Borysenko

 

 

As a medical student and then a physician, what drew me to older patients was, of all things, history.

How else as a young adult could I have had tangible access to witnesses to the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and even vaudeville?

On many a late night, I sat talking to patients at their bedside who had seemingly lost the ability to long-for, desire or crave creature comforts.

But what they lacked in real-world and real-time cognition, was somehow compensated by remembering.

In our diaphanous conversations, I was sometimes the doctor, sometimes a parent, sometimes a child, and on one occasion, a paramour.

We could have danced all night—literally.

The mind is a mysterious, mysterious thing…and so is the heart.

When we celebrated our last anniversary, Josh said

Thank you for providing me more memories in the last 13 years than one person should ever have in a lifetime.

I find it oddly comforting to know that despite the tides of fortune and the flux of material things, the one thing that is most valuable and universal is memory.

Be determined to make a million of them…no matter what.

 

 

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  • By: Jane

    I lost my husband to pancreatic cancer in the blink of an eye. He was never sick and we did not have any signs until too late. I have good memories and horrible memories. It seems that everything stirs a memory. I used to cry when I stirred up memories. As time goes on I find myself cherishing them and trying hard to leave the tears behind. He was such a beautiful person and I miss him so much. Make every moment a beautiful memory. Be grateful for what you have. Don’t dwell on the silly small stuff. When I hear people complain about their husbands, I get so upset and think…….. If I only could be in your shoes……

  • By: jeda

    Wow… what beautiful thoughts. I, too, love sitting with patients and listening to their stories. Noble historians. Thank you for sharing, Dr. Brent! We wish you and sweet Josh all the best :* You are amazing!

  • By: Brittany

    I think that the people who have lived for more than 65 years have the best information to teach the new generations. My own granmother just turned 93 years old about two weeks ago, and she has seen the end of one World War, all of another, a Depression, at least 20 presidents, and so many other things that it amazes me. This post reminds me of my grandmother, and I appreciate it. Beautiful writing, Brent. :) I need to go call her. Have a great day, you guys.
    Love you all!

  • By: Leah Williams

    I am deeply touched and moved by this blog. I have 4th stage breast cancer and had been a fan of your reality show. I am also a great lover of architect. I find The Beekman Boys an inspirational part of my life and gives such wondrous beauty to these last years of mine.Thank you for that. Love, Leah

    • By: Dr. Brent

      Hi, Leah. We are so sorry to hear of your current health struggles. We appreciate the small opportunity you have give us to be a part of your life

      • By: Leah Williams

        Thank you so much Dr. Brent! You must be an awesome doctor and I just ordered some room sprays, onion jam and stationary from you, to make my life more beautiful. Can’t wait to get them!!! Love, Leah

  • By: Linda Turner

    Wow…I love this story….and love listening to memories of the past. A beautifullly written piece, Brent…

  • By: Howard Fites

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. At 58 my partner and I are just starting building our memories. It’s such a good place to be.

  • By: nlforst

    Beautiful post Brent. You both will have so many memories to last a lifetime.

  • By: Diana Binkowski

    I told the story of I told the story of my great grandmother laughing at my antics at her feet when I had the chicken pox in Sharon Springs. I didn’t report that it was in 1952. Love the area and still love coming back there from Tn. each year to visit family.

  • By: Kirwti Stephenson, RN

    As a nurse for Hospice I have had the very blessed opportunity to spend the last few hours of life with people that I would have loved to know much longer. It is truly an honor to be with someone that has ended one journey and has started on another,. I know I will cherish these shared memories for as long as my own memory remains intact. Time is love…

  • By: Mayela

    So eloquently stated and true. We have only but to listen to those who have so much to tell us. I cherish the stories that have been handed down in my family and vow to continue to pass them down to my children and grandchildren.

  • By: Debbie Gerlock

    I was 42 years old when I got my first job as an Archivist. I love the fact that I maintain memories. It’s exciting to be able to share these memories with others. It all goes in line with my philosophy on life: I don’t want to be thinking; woulda, should, coulda, but didn’t.

  • By: Beth

    I live in a big, old house that has been many things through it’s lifetime. Several years ago there was a knock on our door during Thanksgiving dinner. There stood a small woman in her 80s and her middle-aged son. The son explained that our house used to be a girls’ boarding school and asked if his mother could come inside and see it again. They stayed for about an hour and his mother slowly but surely lit up the whole house with her energy. She danced in our living room (where she took ballet lessons) and sang songs the girls used to sing. Her stories were delightful and helped us learn more about the house that we had only owned for a couple of months. She wrote us later about how much that day meant to her and how nice it was to relive her youth for a few moments. She remains one of our favorite memories of our home as well.

  • By: Pam

    Had to read this again and share it with a friend.

  • By: ConnieW.

    You write beautifully, and it is all so true and so wise. I will remember the next to the last line always.

  • By: Rick Tamlyn

    So agree– and now have great memories of having dinner at the American with friends Garth and Doug. Meeting you guys is next on my list– Rick Tamlyn–The Bigger Game Guy!

  • By: sue tolbert

    So often we don’t even realize we are making menories, until something happens to trigger it. sue t.

  • By: Andrew R.

    WHat a lovely sentiment, Brent. My grandmother, who is 89 this year, has always espoused the virtue of good memories. “No one can take them away from you,” she always says. “They are always there to comfort you.”

  • By: Susan Albetski

    That is beautiful, Brent. My patients have given me many such gifts of moments and memories. Thank you for expressing it so eloquently.

  • By: kathie

    Thank you Brent, that was beautiful! As a home health nurse, mostly to those in an advanced age group I can relate. I love to chat with my patients they really are wonderful historians.
    Love making memories each day and enjoying memories.

  • By: Diana Binkowski

    My first memory happened right there in Sharon Springs. My grandmother took me to her house on corner of Rt. 10 and 20 to get me out of chicken pox at home. I remember sitting at my great-grandmothers feet and played with plastic clothes-pins on my fingers and making my great-grandmother laugh. I was about 3 years old at the time. She passed away about 6 months later but I don’t remember that. p.s. I did get the chicken pox in that house and passed them around all over Schoharie and Otsego county.

  • By: Cathy Runkle

    I LOVE History! So much to learn from others! Here is now of my Favorite quotes… I found it years ago! It’s from Henry David Thoreau and was written while he was at his “Walden Woods” experiment… He lived in a 10′ x 15′ cabin next to Walden Pond for 2 years and wrote about his experience. Today we would call it a blog! “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success in uncommon hours.” Sounds like you and Josh! Love you!

  • By: Loretta Cox

    Brent, as soon as I can I will embroider Josh’s words and make it into a pillow.
    You are both so truly lucky to have found each other in this lifetime.
    Loretta

  • By: Teri Tighe

    sometimes I find it difficult because I only remember bits and pieces of my life. Not sure why. Sometimes I have to ask my sister or mother specifics about certain events, etc.

  • By: Delia D.

    My daughter’s high school did a World War I presentation a few years ago. We realized afterwards that she should have brought her grandma as part of her presentation. You see, my mom was four years old when she stood in the street, holding her mother’s hand. They were watching a parade to celebrate the end of the war. She said that day was her first memory.I think it was the year 1919.

  • By: Lynn Duncan (Seamonkey)

    I have similar experiences as a volunteer driver for American Cancer Society in the Road to Recovery program. I get to talk to people of a range of ages, ethnicities,and experiences. Enriches my life and hopefully theirs too.

  • By: Teri Tighe

    You two make my heart swell with emotion. I so wish more people were like you.

  • By: Cindy Bouffiou

    You are so right! Listening to stories and learning your families histories is so important. Unfortunately most of us don’t realize that until the older generations are gone.

  • By: Isabel

    I too have shared some of these same work experiences, give a shout out to all the Emergency Nurses, it’s emergency nurses week.

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