Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 7
As I sat to hear my first lecture in the College of Medicine, I felt that there were others there in spirit with me: Mother, Dad, Miss Kennedy, Mr. Cross, Dr. Byrnes. And what I heard in that first lecture has stayed with me all these years.
Dr. Guthrie, of Dubuque, was the speaker and his eulogy of the profession of medicine was surely a fitting subject for such an occasion. His words burned themselves into my mind and more than once, in the years that have passed, I have recalled them. This is what he said:
Great is the science that contemplates impenetrable space and studies the whirling worlds, each in its own proper sphere, as they have leaped into space from the fingertips of God's creative genius; but greater is that science that snatches from space the mysterious element and applies it so that the blind may be made to see and the lame to leap for joy.
Great is that science that delves into the bowels of the earth and seeks to find there the footprints of the Creator, left ages and ages ago in the form of leaf or flower or fish upon the surface of solid rock, or that delves into the earth and seeks to find things of material and industrial value to humanity; but greater is that science that delves into the dark realms of the earth's bosom and seeks for those elements that may be used to alleviate human suffering.
Great is that science that seeks to classify the green verdure of the earth from the modest violet to the sturdy oak, the swaying elm, the weeping willow, and the clinging vine; but greater is the science that seeks to find in root, in branch, in leaf, in flower or fruit, the elements that may be used to smooth the wrinkles from the pillow of human pain, or lull to sweet and peaceful sleep the weary, tired, bewildered brain.
Great is that science, profession, or calling that points through the dark, dim, distant horizon of the future beyond the grave to the bright and brilliant star of hope for life eternal; but great is that profession that robs the grave of its victim, and restores the infant, laughing in childish health and glee, back to the arms of a grateful, happy, loving mother!
Now, gentlemen, this profession that you have chosen will require of you at all times your best in mental effort and moral behavior. Even at times your devotion to your profession will demand of you the facing of physical hazards.
To Dr. Guthrie every word of that lecture was the living truth, a truth which found practical expression daily in his long professional career. And when, one tragic day in the dead of winter--when he was confined to his bed by illness--a patient needed him, he did not hesitate but arose and went to minister to him. Giving his last ounce of strength of this unselfish act, his own illness overcame him and he passed on in March of 1930.