Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturdays with Dr. Roffman

Each Saturday, Joel Roffman, MD, a prominent Dallas cardiologist and author will share meaningful experiences he has had with patients who are dealing with a variety of physical and emotional issues. You will find the manner in which they deal with life’s problems to be practical, inspirational and uplifting.

Words to Live By

Naturally, I was surprised when I opened the door and was met by a Roman Catholic priest holding a large bouquet of flowers. It was September 1959, and I was 8 years old at the time. My family lived on the top floor of a tenement apartment building in Boston. The priest had come by to pay his respects.

You see, my father had just died. He had injured his knee at work, and the usual care in 1959 was to place the patient at complete rest. This was long before MRIs and arthroscopic surgery. Unfortunately, he developed a large blood clot in his knee, and the clot traveled to his lungs. He was 38 years old. It was 50 years ago this month. A lifetime.

My dad worked for a trucking company as a dispatcher during the week and drove a taxicab on weekends. The priest told my mother and me that when the weather was inclement on a Sunday morning, my dad would pick up the priest from the rectory and brought him to the church, never taking a dime (and believe me, we could have used those dimes!). As the priest told us, the 3 of us cried together.

Of course, we take many things from our parents. I have but few distinct memories of my father. I certainly remember his death and the subsequent struggles of my mother. She also cared for my brother and her elderly mother in our small apartment, all the while telling me, “I’ll just have to love you enough for two as well as me!” And that she did.

I do, though, remember my father’s personal credo. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, our Bible’s message can perhaps best be summarized as to how we should conduct our lives by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As a taxi driver, my dad would, of course, come into contact with a wide variety of people. He told my brother and me stories of this one and that one, some more respectful than others. He would then tell us, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

If you have a comment or question about this blog entry, email Dr. Roffman at

Dr. Joel Roffman has spoken to many church, synagogue and support groups. His book, Coping with Adversity: Judaism’s response to illness and other life struggles is enjoyable, uplifting and informative. It is meant for people of all faiths and can be viewed at It is available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and

1 comment:

Bill Witcher said...

Good, heartwarming story as always. And interesting, my Dad died when I was 10.