The air was crisp this Sunday afternoon. The snow had already melted and the cold air brushed my face softly. My body was shaking from the cold, but my mind was too busy to really take notice. My shoes had managed to gather a layer of mud that was an inch thick. To my right and left, I was surrounded by sad faces. Many were people I have known from the community, my friends, and others I hope to know one day.
As I looked around the muddy cemetery, I noticed the clean gray speckled tombstone blocks that were neatly organized in rows to identify where the deceased rested. However messy the grounds seemed, the tombstone blocks were clean as if it was a dry summer day. The trees were bare and the sun shined bright through a clear blue sky.
At the distance I noticed the large fresh dirt mound that had been created to cover the deceased body whom we laid to rest this afternoon. All the sons surrounded the mound for their last prayers for their father. I could not help the tears that started to fill up. Why am I crying? I did not know the man. This was a very captivating moment for me. Here I am, extremely emotional for a man I never met, whom I never said a single word to, never shook his hand, never saw a picture of him till the announcement of his passing. What is the deal?
Who I did know were his sons. You see, his children have impeccable personalities. When you meet them, your soul is fed with calmness, a certain ease, your heart slows a bit, and you can feel genuine compassion when they speak to you. I have watched, listened, and simply enjoyed being part of his son's community charity events. Their message is always simple and food for the soul: Live with compassion and use your talents to better your community. At least that is what they have taught me. You see, that is the mark of compassionate leaders - their actions touch us all in different ways.
During the funeral, one of his sons educated us about his father. Most importantly, he said and I am paraphrasing "all the things we as sons do in the community and good deeds you see us doing, has been taught to us by our father." It was at that moment, I grasped what kind of man their father was. He was amazing. After listening to those words, I knew he was a great man. A humble man. A man who probably never made himself known in a room with a loud bolstering voice declaring all his accomplishments. Instead, I sensed he was a man who promoted a sense of community, provide a lending hand to those in need, emphasized the importance of charity - which comes in many forms, even a smile.
It is these thoughts that came flooding in my mind with tremendous force. I could not handle the emotions that followed. It was a tsunami of thoughts and pictures of what I imagined him doing or saying to his adult children when they were young kids. I must say, I did well in fighting back the tears. But, as I lay down to sleep that Sunday night, the tears flooded my pillow. I could not fight it anymore. Silence of the night made the thoughts not only return, but were uninterrupted by any other concerns.
The Abdullah brothers are an inspiration to me and to all of us. I am honored to know them and our Kansas City community is privileged to benefit from their extreme compassion. As a physician, they have taught me and motivated me to take my talents and skills to the next level to help those who are uninsured and insured to receive accessible and affordable primary care.
I hope to be an asset to the community as the Abdullah brothers are to our community. When I pass, if my good deeds come even close to what their father has accomplished in raising his kids alone, then maybe, just maybe, I will get a chance to meet him...and thank him for his gift to my community.
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"He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all."