“I’ve Killed The Mayor”

 

Finger Laceration

Finger Laceration

Between my sophomore and junior years in medical school, I had the privilege of working in the medical office of Drs. Eldon and Julian Fairley in Osceola, Arkansas. I was there as part of the Preceptor program from the medical school, which gave students hands-on experience working with family practitioners in small towns throughout the state. Our responsibilities as students included mostly observation, but depending on the doctor and the trust they had in a particular student, they would allow more active participation in patient care. Both Osceola doctors were aware that my dad and brother were doctors and had taught me to do certain things that most students at my stage in training had not done. I demonstrated to their satisfaction that I was very capable of suturing most lacerations.

One morning a patient came to the office needing repair of a minor laceration to his left index finger. He had been sharpening his pocket knife, and carelessly cut his finger when he became distracted. The patient was in his mid-forty’s in age; of average height, but weighing about 275 pounds. He was a cotton farmer, so he was quite strong with broad shoulders. He also happened to be the mayor of Osceola so was well-known and beloved in the community. When Dr. Eldon examined the wound, he announced to the patient; “Mr. Mayor, we have the honor of having Dr. Moore with us, and he happens to be an expert in laceration repair. He has graciously agreed to repair your finger!” With an introduction like that, I knew I had to do my best suturing job on this dignitary from Osceola.

The nurse set up the suture tray with everything I needed, and I had the mayor sit on the examining table without lying down. This was a critical error in judgment, and one I never made again in my 47 years of medical practice. I took the syringe with the local anesthetic and began injecting the small laceration after I had very carefully cleaned the wound. I was holding his finger with the fingers of my left hand while numbing the wound all the while telling him that this part would only take a few seconds. I was not looking at the mayor’s face but was intent on getting the finger injected. I noticed he was gradually pulling the finger from my grasp, and I told him, “Just relax, its’ almost numb.” As the force of the pull increased I looked into his face and saw his eyes rolling back and heard him moan and gasp. I was so startled I released my hold on his finger and quickly grasped his shirt as he was falling backwards off the table. My hold on his index finger was the only thing keeping him upright. He was so large his weight pulled me with him off the other side of the table, and our combined size knocked over the IV stand and the light stand with a loud, reverberating crash. I could only think as I was falling over the table, “I just killed the mayor of Osceola, and my career as a doctor is over!”

When I landed atop the mayor he fortunately began to arise from his faint and groggily asked what had happened. Dr. Fairley quickly entered the room to see this pitiful scene and teasingly said, “Dr. Moore, this is not quite what I had in mind for your suture job on the Mayor!” I was very thankful the mayor was still alive, and I had the opportunity to continue my career in medicine. We examined the mayor to make certain he had not sustained any injuries from the fall, and he was fine except for a bruised ego. My ego had also suffered from the fall. I did have enough presence of mind to repair the laceration after we got the mayor back onto the table, but I don’t think it was my best suturing job. I’m confident the mayor didn’t care, and he seemed glad to leave the office.

There was not another in my long career as a surgeon whenever I sutured a finger laceration I didn’t remember this incident with the mayor of Osceola, and I never allowed another patient to sit up while I injected their finger. I did have a few other patients faint under different circumstances, but at least I didn’t fall on top of them!

Dr. John

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“Is You Ready?”

 

Office Delivery

Office Delivery

Medical school is full of many surprises for all the students, from the lowly freshman to the “sophisticated and highly trained” senior. Some of the surprises are not very pleasant or comfortable, while others are delightful, especially when remembering them years later. Some of the most interesting and wonderful training experiences happened for me when I was serving in the Preceptor program during the summer between my sophomore and junior years.

The University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences instituted the Preceptor program in an effort to give medical students practical experience with family practitioners in small communities throughout the state. The students spent 6 weeks shadowing their appointed preceptors, while learning first-hand what it was like to treat patients. Up to this point in our training, we had spent most of our time in the class rooms, and very little time with patients. Even though my dad and brother were doctors, and I had spent a lot of time in their offices, I was excited to get this different practice perspective. I was assigned to Drs. Eldon and Julian Fairley, two brothers in Osceola, Arkansas who had been in practice together for over 15 years. Osceola lies in the heart of cotton-growing country in Northeast Arkansas, and the cultural and agricultural environment are totally different from my home in the timberlands of South Arkansas, where oil production and refining are a way of life.

Their practice was unique for many reasons. Dr. Eldon was a bachelor who was totally dedicated to his medical practice. His office hours were from 8 to 5 every day, including Saturdays and Sundays! The only time he took a break from the practice was to attend Sunday school and church. Dr. Julian was married, so his hours in the office did not include Saturday afternoons or Sundays. Both men made house calls and admitted patients to the hospital, so they had to balance their office hours accordingly. Their patient population included a large number of Black-Americans, because of the demographics of the area. These were the years of racial segregation in the South, and they had  “Whites Only” and “Colored Only” waiting rooms. Since many people who lived in Mississippi County had incomes below the national poverty guidelines, the office fees of the Fairley Clinic were extremely low compared to other areas in the state. They charged $3 for an office visit, and if an injection was given, the total charge was $5. Another interesting element of their practice was they delivered babies in their clinic. They had a special room designated for clinic deliveries, and they would deliver as many as 10 babies per month. The charge for a mid-wife delivery in the area was $25, and the Fairley’s thought their services justified a higher charge since they were doctors; so their fee for a clinic delivery was $35. The day I arrived I was told that I would be in charge of clinic deliveries which both excited and terrified me. I didn’t have extensive experience delivering babies; in fact I had only delivered one baby at the medical center, and it was an uncomplicated delivery. The Fairley’s assured me they would be within a few feet of the delivery room to give encouragement and help if needed.

It was about 4 pm on this particular Sunday, and the clinic staff, including Dr. Eldon had left for the day, since there were no more patients in the waiting rooms. I was alone in the library reading, when I looked out of the window and saw a woman walking by herself toward the clinic backdoor.  As I walked toward the door, I heard her knock. As I opened the door, there stood a Black-American in her mid-30’s, obviously pregnant and appearing in a hurry. She said, “Is you the doctor?” “Yes mam,” I responded. “You better hurry!” I didn’t have time to call Dr. Fairley for assistance.

I quickly took her into the delivery room, which was next to the back door and helped her onto the table. As I was getting her prepped for the delivery, I asked her how many babies she had delivered, to which she responded, “This will make number 8.” When I had the sterile drape in place and took my seat on the exam stool, she asked the important question; “Is you ready?” When I answered, “Yes mam,” I noticed that she held her breath and pushed down as hard as she could. Her 8th delivery proceeded very quickly and could not have been any easier, both for her and for her young “doctor.” As I was tending to the healthy baby, the mother asked if she could go to the rest room. I helped her get there, holding onto her with my right hand while holding the baby in the other arm. I went back to the delivery room and got the baby cleaned and powdered, while he calmed down from his initial crying. He was beginning to get used to his new environment and needed some rest from the ordeal he had just endured. I filled out his birth certificate and walked to the rest room door, where I asked the mother for his name to add to the certificate. “I’m calling him James, she said, “and would you mind calling me a cab?” I assisted her back to the delivery room where she held James for the first time, and they immediately bonded. I had her sign the birth certificate, and she paid me $35, thus completing the business side of this whole transaction.The cab arrived and I helped her into it with James, and they left for their home to be greeted by seven excited siblings. I happened to look at my watch, and the entire process from the initial back door meeting to the awaiting cab took 45 minutes!

For some strange reason, I felt I had done a full day’s work in that 45 minutes, while at the same time had experienced something few other doctors had. I was extremely glad I was training to become a doctor and delighted they had assigned me to Dr. Fairley’s clinic for this once in a life-time experience. Since that unusual experience in Osceola I have always sought to “be ready!”

Dr. John

“God’s Prescription for Worry”

 

Rx Pad

Rx Pad

I practiced medicine and surgery in the same town with my brother Berry Lee for 29 years, and the professional relationship we had was wonderful. He was an older brother by 11 years, and I had idolized Bubba from my earliest recollection. Because our Dad was so busy with his medical practice during my pre-teen and teenage years, Bubba taught me many things which normally would be taught to a son by a Dad. In so many respects I looked on Bubba as a father-figure, and this type of relationship continued into our professional life. Our Dad had died during the time of my training as a general surgeon.

Bubba had a family medical practice, and he was an immediate referral source when I started my practice as a surgeon. I never quantified the referral percentages, but I suspect that at least 40% of my patients had been referred by Bubba. It was not surprising when I walked into the examining room one afternoon to see a new patient, and she informed me that she had been a patient of “Dr. Berry.” To a large number of people in our small community, he was known as “Dr. Berry,” and I was “Dr. John,” in order to avoid confusion between us.

Mrs. Johnson was a very pleasant 65 year old lady with a sweet countenance, and after a few words of conversation, I knew she was a Christian. She said she had not seen Dr. Berry for at least 6 years, because she had moved to California to take care of a disabled, older sister, and had just returned following her sister’s death. Her surgical problem was relatively minor and could be resolved with an office procedure, which we scheduled for the following week. Just before she left the room she asked, “Would you mind refilling a prescription for me?”

Normally a request like that is easily honored, but I needed more information. She said  Dr. Berry had given her this prescription well over 6 years previously, and she had taken it with her to California. With her next few remarks, I became very suspicious of her motives for the request. She said, “I use this prescription all the time, and have shared it with a number of people, and also with all of my friends in California!” Every alarm alert in my brain was immediately tripped, causing me to believe Mrs. Johnson was not only taking a controlled substance drug, but was giving (or selling) it to her friends. My fears were partially tempered when I asked her if a doctor in California had refilled it for her and she said, “No,” Dr. Berry is the only doctor who ever gave me a prescription like this.”

I asked her to tell me the medicine which Dr. Berry had prescribed, and she said, “I have his prescription right here in my purse.” She reached into her enormous purse and without any hesitation in her search, retrieved a tiny slip of paper from one of the small pockets within the purse. It was indeed a prescription which was folded into a small enough size to fit into the pocket. I could tell by the age and condition of the paper this prescription had been unfolded and folded back many times. I had to carefully unfold it to keep it from tearing. It had been written on Bubba’s pad which had his name, address, telephone number and narcotics license printed on it. Her name was in the proper place, and written as the prescription was: Philippians 4: 6&7. The prescription was signed: Dr. Jesus. She said she had told Dr. Berry she had been worrying about a number of things, and was wondering if he had any medicines which could help calm her nerves. As she was talking, he was already writing her prescription on his pad, and when he gave it to her he said, “Take this prescription as often as you need it, and it is guaranteed to calm you down.” She said, “I tried it and it worked every time! That is why I shared it with all my friends and family.” I gladly wrote her the exact prescription on my pad, and told her I would be more than glad to refill it as often as she needed. My nerves had also calmed greatly, and I was ashamed I had thought badly about Mrs. Johnson.

A paraphrase of the verses on the prescription is; don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything, and God will calm your nerves and your heart. Bubba probably gave hundreds, and perhaps thousands of similar prescriptions during his 50+ years of medical practice. I feel quite certain the drug companies that made anti-depressant pills, noticed a decrease in the demand for their pills as Bubba’s patients applied his prescription for the worries in their life. I took this lead from Bubba and began treating my own patients with worry problems in a similar fashion. I never heard of any treatment failures.

Dr. John

An Expensive Gall Bladder

My dad was one of the last of the generation of G.P.’s (General Practitioners), who treated almost every medical problem that was presented to them. In addition to treating with medications, he also performed surgery on the patients who were in need of a particular procedure. Except in an emergency situation, he didn’t do neurosurgery or cardiac surgery, since both of these specialties were in their infancy. Someone once asked him if he was a specialist, to which he remarked, “Why yes, I specialize in the skin and its’ contents!” Because he had additional training in surgery at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, he enjoyed and became very proficient doing some very complicated operations. One of his colleagues in training was Dr. Michael DeBakey, who became world-famous as a pioneer in cardiac and cardiovascular surgery.

Most of Pop’s patients were ordinary, hard-working people with average incomes. The local area had experienced an economic boom 30 years previously, when a large oil field was discovered, and overnight a few of the fortunate landowners became millionaires. My dad had only 3 or perhaps 4 patients who were so financially blessed by this boom. One couple, Mr. and Mrs. HPS who had become wealthy with oil royalties, were faithful patients and also good friends with Pop. They had done so well financially, that he had founded an oil production company, which was managed by his family. Mr. HP had farmed all of his adult life until this windfall, and he continued wearing bib overalls, except when he went to church. To those in the area who didn’t know him, he was generally not recognized as a wealthy man. There were certain things on which the couple splurged however; and according to one of Pop’s nurses, Mr. HP once bought his wife a red Cadillac, and even had a chauffeur drive her wherever she needed to go.

During one painful period for Mrs. S, she experienced debilitating abdominal discomfort which fortunately was intermittent, but continued for months. There was not the availability of sophisticated diagnostic tools in the 1950’s; so many illnesses were treated symptomatically. This method of treatment was generally effective, but in her case, it didn’t work, and she continued having problems despite trying most of the available medications for gastric disorders. Pop and Mr. HP agreed that a consultation at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was indicated. She was seen and treated there by a large team of well-qualified physicians, and seemed to be improving initially, but then had a relapse several weeks later.

Pop told both of them that he was confident her problem was not in her stomach, but was a diseased gall bladder, and an operation was the only solution to her puzzling situation. They assured him that they trusted his wisdom and skill, and saw no need to return to the Mayo Clinic for an operation, since they couldn’t seem to discover her diagnosis. The operation was successful in removing the diseased organ and accompanying gall stones, and she healed her wound quickly with no complications. It took her about 6 weeks to gain back her strength, but gladly reported that she was free from the terrible pain, and “felt better than she had in a long time.” On her final post-operative visit, Mr. HP sat in Pop’s office and as he took out his check book he said, “Dr. Berry, let’s get settled up on your bill.”

In that generation, because so very few people had medical insurance, most struggled greatly to pay their medical bills, even though the charges were very low by today’s standards. In some instances, wealthy people were charged a little more than the usual and customary fees, in order to balance the large number who were not able to pay anything. The usual and customary physician fee for gall bladder surgery in those days was $250.00. Pop said to Mr. HP, “I have thought and prayed for a long time, what would be the proper fee for your wife’s operation. You and I both know that they couldn’t diagnose her problem at the Mayo Clinic.” Mr. HP said, “You saved us a whole lot of money by not sending us back up there, and we want to pay whatever you say.” Pop was still hesitating and perhaps feeling a little guilty when he slowly said, “Mr. HP, I’ve decided to charge you 500 dollars! As he began writing out the check for that doubled fee, Mr. HP said, “Dr. Berry, you could have said 5,000 dollars and we would have thought we got a good deal.” Years later, Pop confided in me that at the moment when he heard what Mr. HP said, he wished that he had said 5000 instead of 500! He then quickly said, “Oh well, it’s just money.”

Dr. John

The Leprosy of Sin

 

Leprosy

Leprosy

As a physician for over 45 years, I have treated many diseases under many different circumstances, but have never treated an individual with leprosy ( Hansen’s Disease). For a long period of time in our country, people with Hansen’s Disease were isolated in one of two hospitals specifically for their treatment, and one with which I was familiar was located in Carville, Louisiana. Many of the patients admitted there never left. A world renowned hand surgeon, Dr. Paul Brand, spent his last professional years serving there, and I had the privilege of performing several hand surgeries with him while I was in training as a surgical resident at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.  He was a medical missionary for many years in India where leprosy was so prevalent and developed numerous hand operations to correct the deformities caused by Hansen’s Disease. Dr. Brand is the author of several well-known books, including “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” and “In His Image.”

Hansen’s Disease is a communicable disease caused by bacteria very similar to the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. Of all the communicable diseases, it is one of the least communicable, and is now curable with the medicines currently available. In Biblical times, leprosy was one of the most dreaded of all conditions because there was no treatment at all. Whoever had leprosy was isolated from everyone according to Mosaic Law; considered unclean and forbidden to have any personal contact unless the other person also had leprosy. Frequently a bell was hung on the neck of a leper to announce his presence, so that the unaffected could flee the area. A leper was commanded to cry out “unclean” whenever he approached a “clean” person.

A common misconception of the pathology of leprosy is that it is similar to a cancer that slowly invades and destroys healthy tissue, particularly the hands, feet, face and the skin of other areas. The leprosy bacteria in fact, invades and destroys peripheral nerves, leaving the person with the loss of sensation in the skin of the toes, feet, fingers and hands among other body parts. It is this loss of sensation that allows the person to continually sustain undetected injuries to the affected parts with subsequent infection and tissue loss. The pathology is similar to the condition of neuropathy associated with diabetes.

There are a number of Biblical references to people suffering with leprosy. In at least 2 instances (Matthew 8: 2-4; Luke 17: 11-19) Jesus not only touched but instantly healed the people with leprosy. Because Jesus came to heal the sick and set captives free (Isa. 61: 1), I believe He touched and healed many more people with leprosy than is recorded in scripture.  In His encounter with the 10 lepers in Luke 17, He told the only one who returned to Him, that his faith (the faith of Christ in the man) had made him well.

The sin in one’s life can be compared to leprosy in that it desensitizes, separates and isolates. For the non-Christian, sin separates that person from the saving grace of the Lord Jesus, and until that one repents and receives God’s saving grace, his life will be a continuing downward spiral to destruction. For the Christian, unforgiven sin will desensitize him to the normal Christian life, which is so freely available, and cause a separation and isolation from other believers who are walking in the truth of the Word. The treatment and the cure for the non-believer as well as the believer, of the leprosy of sin, is the daily ingestion and application of God’s healing Word. The treatment is readily available, the cost is free and the resultant cure is instant.  Please don’t delay treatment—it will be hazardous to your health! (I John 1:9)

Dr. John

“I Didn’t Know Doctors Ever Got Sick”

 

Thermometer

In all the years of my private medical practice, I don’t believe I missed more than a total of 5 days because of personal illness. During the early training years, such was not the case. I seemed to get an upper respiratory tract infection every other month, and would occasionally have to stay home to recover. I suppose most doctors develop a healthy immune system to protect them from the bacteria and viruses they are exposed to multiple times daily, and my immune system grew stronger as the years of my training progressed. On one of the few times when I did have to cancel an appointment because of illness, a patient told me on his return visit, “I didn’t know doctors ever got sick.” He was more right than wrong, but there were exceptions.

One of the family practitioners in El Dorado I had the privilege of knowing was Dr. Grady Hill. Grady had started in private practice about 12 years before I did, and for several of those years he shared office space with my brother, Berry Lee. When I moved back home to begin my practice, Grady moved out of the office so I could move in since there was not enough space for 3 physicians.

Grady was tall, lanky in stature and moved slowly, while never seeming to get in a hurry. He spoke in a slow Southern drawl; was mostly serious in demeanor, but would laugh heartily at a funny story or a joke. His hobbies involved hunting and fishing, and he seemed to me to be an expert on guns. Once when I was searching for a 9 mm. German Luger, he not only knew all about the pistol, but he had one he eventually sold to me.

Bubba said that his experiences with having Grady practice in his office were all good ones. Even though they shared office space, their practices were separate. They would use each other’s wisdom in caring for their own patients and would speak together frequently during the course of a day. Bubba was impressed with Grady’s compassion for his patients saying he seemed to be kind and gentle with each one. He did say however, when a patient would voice a particular symptom to Grady such as, “I have this pain in my stomach which hurts every morning,” Grady would respond with something like, “I know what you mean, because I have a pain just like that!” It didn’t seem to Bubba a patient could voice any complaint which Grady didn’t have a comparable one which made Grady appear very empathetic.

By his own admission, Grady had a “weak stomach.” Several members of the medical staff, including Grady would regularly have lunch in the Doctor’s Lounge each day. All of the surgeons who had operations scheduled that day would also eat in there between cases so there were usually 6-8 doctors having lunch together. We all knew about Grady’s weak stomach and usually avoided the frequent “doctor talk” about interesting things seen in the operating room, some of which were bloody and smelly. On a rare occasion, someone would tell a story about an unusual surgical finding that would make Grady gag, while the rest of us had a good laugh at Grady’s expense. Grady never thought any of that kind of talk was funny.

On one particular evening, one of my surgical partners came through the emergency room of the hospital, on his way to make evening rounds, when he was stopped by the nurse on duty. She said, “I know you are not on call, but could you order something for nausea and vomiting for a patient we have in here?” My partner responded by asking if the patient had a family doctor. She said Dr. Hill was her doctor. My colleague looked through the treatment room door and saw the patient leaning off the examining table with her head near a waste can, and she was violently retching and vomiting. He asked the nurse if she had called Dr. Hill and she said, “Yes I have, and he came out to see her, and now he is not in such good shape himself,” while pointing to the corner of the room. There was Dr. Hill with his head down in the utility sink, retching and vomiting with great heaves. “Are you alright, Grady?” my colleague asked. He responded weakly, “I never could get used to a patient who was vomiting. It always makes me sick!” When I was told this story the next morning, I thought to myself this is taking empathy a little too far. I was also told that both the patient and Dr. Hill were feeling much better that morning.

Dr. John

Bubba: A Tribute to my Mentor

Bubba, Marilyn and Me

My older brother Berry Lee was my hero from my earliest recollection. By the time I was 6 years old he had graduated from high school and was a student athlete at the University of Arkansas. As an All American high school football player, he received a full scholarship to play as an Arkansas Razorback. As if that alone were not enough accolades, Berry Lee was also the valedictorian of his high school graduating class. He was injured playing football during his second year in college, but continued on a full scholarship, although his playing days for the Razorbacks were over. His academic achievements continued however, and he graduated summa cum laude from college, and was then valedictorian in his graduating medical school class. Many people, including myself, thought he was too brilliant to limit himself to a private medical practice, but would surely remain in the academic field and be involved in research of some kind. However, following his internship year at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and 2 years of active duty in the U. S. Air Force he decided to join our dad in a family medical practice in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Our mother had died from breast cancer before I was 2 years old. Our sister Marilyn was 5 and Berry Lee was 13 at the time of her death. I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect in her last days, our mother told Berry Lee as our older brother he needed to make certain he watched over us and protected us when she was gone.

Berry Lee was always “Bubba” to Marilyn and me. I can’t remember a time when I called him by his given name. In today’s culture, the name Bubba has certain connotations, but he fit none of them. He never owned or drove a pick-up truck with a gun rack; never wore a baseball cap; never had a chew of tobacco in his mouth, never drank a beer or even a sip of  beverage alcohol and as far as I know, he never said a cuss word his entire life. Nevertheless, he was our Bubba.

Bubba taught me how to play every sport; from throwing a football, to shooting a basketball, to hitting a tennis ball, to throwing a bowling ball,and even to playing ping pong. He was very good in all sports, but I can remember very well the days when my skills in basketball, tennis and ping pong exceeded his, and I was able to beat him in those three sports. To me it was the equivalent of winning 3 gold medals in the Olympics!

On at least 4 occasions while Bubba was in college and medical school he wrote me 4-5 page hand-written letters in which he gave advice and encouragement which usually a father would give to a son. The advice covered a number of life issues which young men face, but the gist of each letter was I should keep myself clean and free from the wicked influences of the world and live a life pleasing to God, our family and to the memory of our mother. Marilyn said she received similar letters from him also. I have kept each one of these treasured letters.

The greatest impact Bubba had on my life was yet to come. Following my training as a general surgeon and completion of my active duty requirement in the U.S. Air Force, my wife Cathy and I decided to move back to my hometown in 1971 to establish a private practice in surgery. By this time Bubba had experienced a spiritual conversion 4 years earlier and was very open and zealous in his faith. He had the discernment to see  Cathy and I were religious but did not have a personal relationship with Christ. We tried our best to avoid any discussions about religion with him. At his urging, we attended a Christian conference in Dallas in 1977, and while there both Cathy and I received Christ as our personal Savior. Everything changed for us. As we grew in our faith our love for each other increased, our marriage improved greatly, and I started assuming my God-given role as spiritual leader in our home.

Bubba began urging me to apply the principals of faith in my surgical practice. I knew  he prayed with all of his patients and had led many to a personal faith in Christ, but I never considered doing those things as a part of my practice. For all the years of training and the 2 years in the Air Force I had never seen any doctor except Bubba pray with a patient. Prior to my conversion I had considered such a thing as an unnecessary intrusion of a physician into the personal life of his patient. Bubba challenged me to pray with each of my patients before operating on them by saying, “You are taking your patients into a life-threatening situation in the operating room, and this might be their last chance to hear the gospel spoken to them by anyone.” At first I was very reluctant to offer to pray with each one and my early attempts were awkward to say the least. Many of my patients had been referred by Bubba, and I later discovered he had been checking up on my faithfulness by asking them, “Did my little brother pray with you before the operation?” I didn’t know this until at a follow-up visit a particular patient told me what Bubba had asked.

From the time of my spiritual conversion until he departed this life in 2009, my relationship with Bubba was one of a spiritual father to his son. He encouraged me to memorize large portions of scripture while spending daily time in the Word. We were involved in several men’s Bible studies together, and for one period there were 2 other physicians in town who joined us. They too had spiritual conversions and were active in their witness to patients. For a short time Bubba and I taught a couple’s Sunday school class together. These were times of rapid spiritual growth for me, and it seemed he was making a conscious effort to pour as much truth into me as possible.

Years later when Cathy and I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in order to be close to our daughter Ginny and her family, my personal time with Bubba was reduced to the few times each year we would return to visit our son John Aaron and his family. We spoke often on the phone, and he continued challenging, encouraging and occasionally rebuking me regarding my spiritual life. At the end of every phone conversation we prayed for each other.

Bubba departed this life at age 81, after spending the last 10 years of his life as care giver for his beloved wife LaNell. She had developed progressive dementia, and Bubba retired early from his medical practice in order to provide for her. He finished his journey well by setting this example of unconditional love while modeling marital faithfulness for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

Bubba was not perfect by any means, and by his own admission had “lots of faults.” He never disappointed me in his role as older brother, and even though I always thought he was too rigid and meticulous in the way he approached most problems, he remained my hero because of his wonderful character. The spiritual impact he had on me, Cathy and our children was immense and will continue on for generations.

It would be a huge understatement to say I miss him, but I know very soon at the feet of our Savior I’ll see him again. Following several million years of worship and praise of the Lord Jesus, I will be very glad to report to our mother Bubba did a mighty fine job of watching over Marilyn and me!

Dr. John