28: The Doctor

28: The Doctor

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

The Doctor

Angels deliver Fate to our doorstep — and anywhere else it is needed.

~Jessi Lane Adams

My dad paced the hallway, wringing his hands in despair. He had called the doctor’s office and left another message with his answering service, but there had been no reply. My mom sat next to me on my bed trying to soothe my forehead with a cool cloth after another bout of vomiting had left me weakened and feverish.

The knock at the front door brought a man, medicine bag in hand, bundled against the winter’s cold. It was the 1950s, and doctors made house calls. He introduced himself, explaining that he was filling in for our regular family physician that evening. My father quickly brought him to my room. After an exam, he announced that my appendix had ruptured and they needed to get me to surgery immediately. He told my parents to drive me to our local hospital and he would meet us there.

I was wrapped in blankets and loaded into the car, my younger brother in the front seat with my dad and my mother by my side in back. I remember the anxious look my parents shared as they drove to the hospital. When I arrived, the doctor was waiting.

My parents had walked through the same hospital doors just months earlier after the death of my older brother. A car had hit him while riding his bicycle home from school. Now, I saw the look of fear on my parents’ faces as they watched me wheeled into the operating room.

Over the next few days, I would wake for short periods of time inside an oxygen tent only to see my mom or dad in a chair by my bed. A couple of days after the surgery, our regular doctor came into the room. The look he exchanged with my parents was one of shock and disbelief.

I would learn many years later that our family doctor had just returned from a trip and was given my dad’s old messages. There was no doctor on call that night by the name given to us. No one from our small town hospital had heard of him either. He had told the staff that he had just joined our doctor’s family practice and was filling in for him that evening. My parents, our doctor, and the hospital tried to find the man who showed up on our doorstep that blustery night to save my life. They never did.

~Catherine Kopp

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