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‘Humility Is What Drew Me to Him’

  • September 18, 2020

Though theirs had been a “love” match, my parents’ marriage was rocky from the start. My father had a wandering eye and didn’t seem to feel that being married should stop him from acting on it. By the time I was 4, I already knew my father had “other women,” as my mother used to call them. An unhealthy proximity to this — their toxic central conflict — had defined much of my childhood. It had defined the narrative of their marriage. Or so I thought.

As she and I walked along the shore, her slippers in one hand, the front of her gown bunched up in the other, she started to tell me a story. In the mid-80s, when I was not yet in high school, she had worked for a time at the Medical College of Wisconsin. An early specialist in nuclear imaging, she was in unusually high demand then, driving all over Milwaukee to read scans at various hospitals.

Although her time covering shifts at the medical college had been short — barely two years — I had long known she was particularly fond of the place.

I had always assumed her affection had something to with the institution’s prestige, the allure of research, a reminder of the pedagogical atmosphere of her own beloved years of medical school in Lahore. It may have been all that, too, but primarily, I would discover, it was about a man, a surgeon there.

Like her, he was married with two children. They met one night when he was on call and she was at the hospital late, reading a scan for a patient on whom he was to operate. Tall, with dusty blond hair and the build of an athlete, he had played football in college but didn’t carry himself with the swagger and self-regard one tended to find, she said, in surgeons, especially those who had been athletes.

My father was not a diminutive man, either, but as a star cardiologist he did carry himself with a swagger that could be off-putting.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/style/modern-love-humility-is-what-drew-me-to-him.html

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