Thanksgiving Holidays are suddenly flooding my brain with so many memories that have been slowly disappearing through years as a senile process. Indeed, whenever we have Thanksgiving holidays, I cannot help but think about one roommate who shared many memories back in Richmond days especially along the Holidays but no longer able to do so because he became ill lately with senile dementia/Alzheimer's disease.
Indeed, he taught me how to start American life including the driving – one of the most frightening experiences in my American life!- when I came to Richmond, Va in 1968 and also shared the on-call room for years till he finished the residency 6 months ahead of me and came up to town/Washington area to establish himself the most successful vascular surgeon in private practice in Washington metropolitan area. Now I have no one in the vicinity to share those memories over the dinner but have to drive all the way up to Yorktown PA to visit one of my senior fellows of Richmond days, who is a genuine Boston-based WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), to refresh my memories, who brought me up to Georgetown Univ in 1978 as his associate/junior partner and taught me how to serve to him as his associate within the boundary of WASP principles.
Anyhow, I can hardly believe it has been more than thirty years since I left Richmond, Virginia after the completion of the residency as well as the fellowship like a miracle but full of painful memories to survive through the cut-throat competition of the pyramidal system. Some roommates who made it through swore they will never even fly over Richmond when they left Richmond and indeed, some never actively joined to home-coming days because too painful to be reminded. But, most of them like me couldn’t stay away for more than a few years but sheepishly got back home sharing the shoulders each other to cry on to easing so many painful memories like ‘the wives skipped/missed the period/menstruation through the spring due to such dreadful stress and agony till they get the good news for another year survival’.
But, by nature, the brain erased most of the painful memories when the time goes by so that we were slowly able to show the healed wounds each other with no further reservation. Indeed, one of top five surgery programs, David Hume’s Richmond program left so many legendary sagas including me as ‘one and only damn foreigner MCV program ever accepted and ever survived as one and only damn foreigner’ which lasted over 30 years whenever I was introduced over the dinner table.
Indeed, I by myself wonder once in a while why David Hume waved unwritten rule to keep out the FMG from his program and took one damn foreigner like me with yellow face and slanted eyes - when I look back all the boys selected for the program belonged or established within the boundary of WASP- to taint such impeccable reputation. No black, no foreigner! Indeed, those days were run by the WASP principles and even quite a few Jewish friends were also fully embedded in Boston/New England culture and accepted WASP rule as the facts. Isn’t Thanksgiving Holidays a symbol of WASP/New England culture though it became a national holiday after all!?
I miss huge turkey drumsticks they serve at the canteen of Mcguire VA Hospital along the Holidays; somehow a huge black woman who served at the canteen insisted me enjoying the drumstick most and saved them for me to give only to me as a special privilege whenever I rotated to the VA along the Holidays. What a good old day, gone forever!!!
Happy Turkey Days to All!
BB Lee of Class '63
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