|By Tanya Pinto, Canada [ Published Date: December 19, 2003 ]|
I had liked Dr. Harris from the first moment I met her. Through her sleepy eyes, and weathered face, emanated a kindness and warmth that was wholly welcoming. Being used to cold, intimidating and hard-hitting comments or questions from my professors, I was not accustomed to her genteel and candid demeanour.
This particular time would turn out to be no different. After seeing a few patients in the morning, it was time for lunch. We went to the cafeteria and sat outside on the patio. It was a beautiful sunny day and Dr. Harris had kindly bought me lunch. I was telling her of my past experiences with research and then after I had finished speaking, I was expecting some of kind validating response towards my research work, something along the lines of “how interesting…sounds like fun etc” but instead she said something that caught me off-guard.
“Your parents must be very proud of you,” she said after some pause.
I did not know what to say. I think I mumbled something about them being pleased. She smiled at my simplistic answer.
“I will never forget what my mother told me when I had turned 16,” Dr. Harris said. “She made me promise that in my life I would be something, that I would do something that would enable me to stand on my own feet. Be in a position in life where a man, my husband or boyfriend or whatever, would never have to tell me what I can and cannot do, what I can spend and not spend. She wanted me to be in a position where I could stand beside my man and not behind him and if need be, without him.”
As usual Dr. Harris surprised me with her candidness. In a world where most are only willing to discuss the superficial or the mundane, conversations with her were always probing the surface.
I told her how her mother sounded just like my father. She laughed at that.
“It is hard for children to succeed if their parents are not behind them 100%.” she observed.
What she had just said was a time-tested truth. Some of the women I had gone to school with, although being quite smart, had gotten married in their early 20s. I doubt they would have married if their family had not been pushing it on them. It seemed that their whole life was defined by domesticity and marital routine and I had always wondered what would happen if for whatever reason, the domestic rug was pulled out from underneath their feet. No, it was indeed important for any woman to stand on her feet, be an equal participant in any relationship and not an after thought. Individuals, be they man or woman, have to be able to rely on themselves first, before they can rely on others. And of course the role of parents is instrumental in creating and fostering an attitude of independence in their daughters.
Both of us looked at the time and our one-hour lunch break had ended. We had to get back to our patients. Our conversations during the rest of the day centered on chemotherapy regimes and resections. I could not go back to see Dr. Harris again, exams were closing in and I had to spend my extra hours pouring over voluminous materials. I mentioned this to her and she wished me good luck. I would try my best to see her again. She was a great teacher, of medicine and of life.
Some final words…a whole year has passed by in a blink of an eye for me. This will be my last article for this year. I hope you all have enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them. The webmaster informed me that we all have some kind of Messenger Mailbox. I did not know about this till recently so I apologize to all those who did message me and did not get any reply. If you want to reach me you can message me at “Tanya” and I will try my best to get a reply out. I have messaged those who got in touch with me and will try to be better at replying this time around. In the meantime, I want to thank all the readers for their support and kind words. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!