Faith is the health’s requisite – John Updike, from “Ode to Healing”
It was an act of faith that led me to buy this book… because… as a person with health anxiety, I tend to stay away from books whose authors have an “M.D.” in their name. The tag line is “A Guide to Life, Love and Health,” and that last word also sends the bony, crooked finger of fear down my spine.
As it turns out, How to Live Between Office Visits by Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. is simply beautiful… and goes far beyond the average “Do this, do that” kind of health book.
Bernie Siegel wrote his first book “Love, Medicine and Miracles” in 1986 and the trajectory of his life changed. From busy doctor who shared his beliefs about Body/Mind/Spirit with his patients to very, VERY busy world-renowned doctor, author, speaker and guest who embraces and lives the Body/Mind/Spirit philosophy. He has empowered patients and doctors, alike.
Seigel credits the title to a breast cancer patient under his care who said, “I need to know what to do between office visits.”
Indeed. Don’t we all?
This book is an all-inclusive “manual” for patients, caregivers, friends, lovers and other professionals of healing. It begins at the beginning… “Where do I go from here?” and ends… well, at the end.
But there is more… because “the end” doesn’t have to be “the end”… as long as there’s love.
Yes, as long as there is love… that person we loved… lives on. As long as we remember … light our candles… tell our stories.. share our memories…
Which is why, I guess, I linger there… in “as long as” places…
Twice today, I saw department stores in television shows. And I’m always reminded of my grandmother.
Nana’s favorite store was Buffums, which anchored an outdoor mall in Pomona, California.
It was a different time then, we all know this… but the early summers of the late 1960s into the 1970s are my favorite to remember.
The memories, like the pre-summer days, were always bright and cheerful. Walking through the doors of this beautiful department store was like visiting another world. In fact, the whole experience was a much-anticipated joy, year after year.
It always began with lunch in the Buffeteria, which sounds like a cafeteria but was actually a lovely dining room with lush rosy carpets and red leather booths that looked like sea shells and wrapped around us like warm, inviting friends. They served fancy finger sandwiches: date nut bread with cream cheese, egg salad and tuna… tiny, petite bites that felt decadent and special. They also served my favorite dish of all time: the Monte Cristo. Get ready, you can get fat just reading this next part… it’s french toast style bread filled with ham, turkey &; cheese, then deep-fried to a golden brown and dusted with powdered sugar. But it’s not done… nope!…not until you dip it in a dark jam, like cherry or blackberry. And yes, I am OH SO serious! *swoon* #delish
Then it was the trolley, outside the front door. It had a circuit, up one side and down the other… the street was closed off to drivers… only pedestrians and this trolley with its bells and whistles.
Next stop: Shoe store! We’d patiently wait for the tram to make its way around and then climb on, like we were at Disneyland – and it might as well have been! We’d ride down to the shoe store and pull the twine that rang the bell… time to stop, get out, and pick out a pair of pastel colored Keds. For my kid sister and me, it was the same, year after year… lunch at Buffums, Keds, annual summer trailer trip with our grandparents.
By the early 1980’s times had changed. Not only were we old enough to have our own families, our beloved department store had changed, too. The bellhops were gone and there was nobody behind the cosmetics counter who recognized my grandmother and called her by name. Yes, by then we were just strangers shopping – nothing more. In another ten years, the last Buffums would be closed.
But back then… oh, back then…
I sometimes smell Nana’s Estee’ perfume… and am transported back to the days when her house smelled like coffee and Estee’, the strawberries danced on her kitchen wallpaper, and we piled in the car to begin our ritual anew… year after year.
As I type this, I don’t feel the sadness I used to in years past. I feel blessed, loved, and lucky. And it’s **almost like** having her here with me. I think that’s what Siegel means… at least, to me. And I’m thankful he has given me permission to linger here a while.