Pathologists don’t retire easily.
We tend to age gracefully in place. We may need to adjust our seat height at the microscope to compensate for our compressing spinal columns and it may be a little harder to turn the focusing knobs on those ‘scopes as osteoarthritic changes afflict our joints. But we hang in there, perhaps pickled and pruned by constant exposure to formalin (always carefully measured and monitored to be below the legally permissible OSHA limit.)
So it is rare that I need to wish an associate a fond goodbye. Especially one that I have known since we were both raw residents, fumbling through autopsies and guessing at causes of death. In fact, it was just outside the autopsy suite (the upscale name for morgue) at Evanston Hospital that I first met George.
It was late in 1979 and I had just completed my first two-month pathology residency rotation. Those two months were marinated by stewing in 50 autopsies, assisted by two dieners (the upscale name for morgue attendants) who knew what they were doing and supervised by attending pathologists, who sometimes did not–particularly one blood banker who was better at cutting and pasting our list of diagnoses than he was cutting bodies.
I was thrilled to be able to wipe my hands (gloved, of course) of the morgue, only to be stopped outside my office by the department director, a stiff Teutonic gentleman who had just returned from a sabbatical. Pulling another young man into the hallway he said to me “This is Dr. Engel. He is new. You will teach him how to do autopsies.”
And I did. In so doing, I got to know George; his background, his East Coast upbringing (he shared an alma mater with my father-in-law,) his European education. and his lovely, very European, wife. I learned his favorite phrase was “to make a long story short.” In reality, the stories were seldom short, but what they lacked in brevity they made up for in entertainment value.
After our four year residencies, George and I each found work as staff pathologists with community hospitals, George in the city and me in the ‘burbs. It was only on rare occasions that our paths would cross. Yet I immediately recognized the voice on the line when George called me in the fall of 2005. He had heard through the pathvine that I was looking for a fellow pathologist to help me man a new venture, the UroPartners Laboratory. I was a day away from hiring a different pathologist, someone brusque and unfamiliar to me, but jumped at the opportunity to welcome an old friend instead.
George has been with me ever since, arriving at 4 a.m. most mornings, immersing himself in prostates, FISHing in the dark, listening to radio Français, and managing our safety program (it is always a wet occasion when he tests the emergency showers.)
When George cut back to part-time hours a few years ago, I knew that he was on the yellow-brick road to retirement. He is almost at the Emerald City and the 2020s will be sans George for us. But to make a long story short, although there is no place like home, George you will always be welcome here.
One more goodbye as WXRT shuffles its lineup. Mary Dixon, newsie and co-host with Lin Brehmer of the ‘XRT morning show, has been de-positioned off the station. As the Mistress of “3 for Free” Mary kept my ear-brain reflexes sharp and responded to some of my rare tweets, even when I wasn’t a winner.
Good luck to you Mary, and let us know where you will next make your radio home. #lesraff1
The opinions expressed above are of the author and not UroPartners LLC.
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