Recap: Shoshana Rosa ran to find Penina to apologize for the way her friend Aviva acted. When she finds Penina’s house, she sees that it’s in a rundown condition. Penina doesn’t invite her in. She can hear yelling from inside. They go for a walk and then they go to visit Shoshana Rosa’s cousin Ilana who is a writer. Ilana shares that she’s working on a story based on a journal she found of her great- great-grandfather. She wants to ask their opinion about something and would love if they would read the journal. So they sit down to read it.
“Aharon, come see what I found.”
I trudged towards Uncle Nathan’s study.
“Look, come look.” My uncle was peering into a microscope. “ Amazing that this tiny animal has so many parts. Come look.”
I glanced into the microscope.
“I’m going to study this one.” It has lots of potential. Uncle Nathan took down his large notebook where he kept a log of all his experiments. “I’m going on rounds in an hour. I’d like you to come with me.” He put his arm on my shoulder. “Now that you’re my apprentice.”
I nodded, hoping my true feelings didn’t show. Being a doctor was not at the top of my list of what I wanted to do. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but medicine had never been my interest. Still, Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mimi had been so kind, taking me in since I was three, when my parents were killed. They did everything they could to make me happy. Uncle Nathan was Father’s brother and he said he wanted to raise me the way my father would have wanted. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I knew how much it meant to them if I would follow in Uncle Nathan’s footsteps.
Living in Vermont had been most of my childhood. I liked living on the farm, and Aunt Mimi had told me that adopting me had brought tremendous brachah to their home. They’d been childless, and then, when I turned five, Aunt Mimi gave birth to a boy, and five years later to another boy. I barely remembered our house in New York. I would see photos of my parents and I remembered them, but it was from so long ago, and I was so young when they died.
Uncle Nathan showed me how to milk the cows and he taught me so many things about farm animals. “You’re just skin and bones,” Aunt Mimi often clucked at me. “We need to feed you more of our good wholesome farm food.” Aunt Mimi was a wonderful cook and baker, and she always made an extra cinnamon bun just for me.
Uncle Nathan was always busy on his calls as the village doctor. When he wasn’t on call, he would sit in his study and learn Gemara.
I hadn’t thought much about what he did until my 14th birthday, last month, when Uncle Nathan announced, “Aharon, its time you chose a field for your apprenticeship. I mean you must finish school, of course, and perhaps you will go on to college; but working side by side with a mentor is the best way for you to learn. I could use an aide.”
I wasn’t sure where this was going until Aunt Mimi, with tears in her eyes, explained. “Yes, Aharon can learn so much from you. The best doctor in these parts and who knows maybe one day you’ll take him into your practice.”
Me, a doctor? I never thought of that at all. I didn’t like the sight of blood. I never thought about being a doctor, but how could I dash their hopes and dreams?
“Dinner’s ready, you two medical men,” Aunt Mimi called upstairs.
Aunt Mimi served me a large portion of chicken and some corn on the cob.
Uncle Nathan smiled. “I’ll take you round to see my patients, son. I want you to see where they live. It’s important to understand a patient’s living conditions. It contributes to his overall health.”
I nodded, staring at my plate.
“Eat up,” Aunt Mimi said. “You’ll need strength to keep up with Nathan on those rounds.
Aunt Mimi went into the kitchen to bring out dessert. She returned carrying a blueberry pie. “Aharon, you picked the berries for this pie, so you get the first piece.”
Just then, there was frantic knocking on the door.
Aunt Mimi rushed to answer. Mrs. Slotkin stood in the doorway. Her bonnet was askew, and her eyes were red. “Please, doctor. Please come right away. Our son is in terrible pain. It’s his right side. I’m so scared. He’s been throwing up and screaming in pain.”
Aunt Mimi put her arm around Mrs. Slotkin. “Nathan will help your son. No worries.”
Uncle Nathan leaped into action. He grabbed his coat and hat and doctor bag and motioned me to follow.
He whispered in my ear. “It may be an appendix. Bring your T’hilim.”
“What do you do for that?”
Surgery! I didn’t want to see anything like that, but I didn’t have a choice. I swallowed as I grabbed my T’hilim and followed Uncle Nathan out the door.
To be continued…