Mercy Douglass Class of 1960 (Image courtesy of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing). The Bates Nursing History Center holds the Mercy-Douglass Hospital and School of Nursing collection, a collection which offers documentary and photographic evidence of how African Americans navigated a perilous system in which to seek health care.
It was totally delightful to catch up with an ex-colleague from New York, USA in Sydney, Australia over the Christmas break. He had brought his young family to the other side of the world, which included his beautiful wife and adorable 2-year-old son.
It is always fun to catch up on the news about mutual friends and colleagues, reminisce about our own life in New York and hear the excitement (and challenges!) of raising a son from our young friends.
My ex-colleague (and friend) is professionally successful, but more importantly he is kind, generous of spirit, intelligent, good looking and funny. Totally irresistible traits in anyone!
As our friends are American’s it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to politics. Both outgoing and ingoing! Politics, depending on our own life experiences can and does get very personal. What I haven’t been able to get out of heart and mind was the story told by my friend about his granddad.
His grandfather was stabbed in a New York city subway and bled to death because he couldn’t get to an 'appropriate' hospital.
Ludicrous! Heartbreaking! Confronting! Chilling!
My friend is black. An African–American whose grandfather died because of health care segregation. I was born in the late 1960’s about the time my friend was losing his granddad. Health care segregation in my lifetime . . . perhaps in your lifetime as well.
My friend says, “Love and hate are easy, forgiveness is hard, but worth it.” See I told you he is a super everything person!
As we said our goodbyes and we watched his son skip along the pavement with the unbridled joy that a child has, I made a commitment to myself to continue to be “the change I want to see in our world”, but equally important - not to forget.
The poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling said, “that if history was taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
I will read, research and continue to improve my knowledge concerning civil, human and equal rights around the world. There is absolutely no way I could ever truly understand, but I can learn, find and listen to the stories for my friend, in memory of his late grandfather and for the future of his son.
Of course, the future is indeterminate for us all, but hopefully we can see a better way forward if we remember how we began.