Monday, February 29, 2016

Dr AM Grasse - physician, friend, teacher, theologian, grandfather

Words shared by Mariah Martin, granddaughter of Dr AM Grasse at his memorial service in Calico Rock on Saturday February 27, 2016

To my knowledge, I was Dr. Grasse’s patient only once. On the day I was born, he was the one to catch me.

According to my memory, I was grandpa’s patient many times.

After all, a doctor teaches.

So I got lessons on nutrition, though probably not the same kind he taught his patients, as he handed me the turkey leg at Thanksgiving dinner, when I was still in a highchair and the piece of meat was about as big as my head. Or when he dipped my finger into the icing of my birthday cake, which I have no doubt I was eager to follow along with. Or when we stood at the stove, measuring out butter and sugar for peanut brittle.

I got lessons on anatomy at the yearly pig butchering, as we would all gather around the table where he was dissecting the heart and showing us the atriums and ventricles, veins and arteries.

I got lessons on operation – of machinery – as I sat on his lap on the tractor, clinging to the wheel, focused intently on steering toward the bale of hay that we were going to pick up and feed to the cows.

A doctor prescribes.

So I was prescribed books. Whether it was the Baby Blues comic book that I read through at least once every time we visited, or the children’s bible that he and grandma gave me for my birthday.

I was prescribed movies. From “The Wizard of Oz” to “Charlie Chaplin”, he would draw from his vast library in the basement, always seeming to have a particular one in mind, which he would find amongst the countless VHSs.

I was prescribed a jean jacket for each year of my life, graduating from small to slightly larger as I outgrew them one by one – though each stayed in the closet in case another tiny farmer came over to visit. Rubber boots too, from one size to the next, so that I was always equipped to tromp out to the cows or the chickens or the rabbits, garbage dish in one hand and a container for eggs in the other.

A doctor examines.

So I sat with him one evening in the pool of a hotel as he examined his life, prompted by my intermittent questioning. We examined his boyhood, his college years, his travels to Ethiopia and Nigeria, and his work here in Arkansas. I was amazed by the places he had been, the things he had accomplished, the lives he had impacted.

A doctors consults.

So I saw him, over the years, consulting a power much higher than his own. In his morning devotions with grandma, in his regular attendance to Calico Rock Mennonite, in his readiness to admit, whenever asked about his admirable life, that it was not with his own strength, but God’s, that he had come so far.

A few months ago, we sat with my grandparents at the kitchen table in grandpa and grandma’s apartment at Menno Haven. During a lull in conversation, my uncle absent-mindedly stroked his jaw. Grandpa, who had been silent during the conversation, suddenly looked up and said “does your jaw hurt?” We all chuckled and my uncle assured him that it was just a mindless habit, but it made me realize something.

“Doctor” is not a job. It is not a profession. It is not a way to make money. It is not something that you do during office hours and leave at the hospital when you come home. It is a calling, a way to live your entire life. Grandpa, Dr. Grasse, Meryl – whoever you knew him as, you knew him to be a doctor.

He spent his life teaching every kind of lesson, prescribing - from antibiotics to literature - , examining his own experiences and those of others, and consulting the Great Physician on how to best care for the people that he encountered at every moment in his life.

Now, as he finally rests, I can only be grateful that I had the fortune to be one of his many, many patients. And I can’t help but picture him standing next to some heavenly exam table, asking an angel “So tell me, how long has that wing been sore?”


Sunday, February 28, 2016

God has a sense of humor

There is an old Hebrew proverb that says if you want to make God laugh make your own plans.

Reality - complex technology is hard

From Deep Work by Cal Newport:

The complex reality of the technologies that real companies leverage to get ahead emphasizes the absurdity of the now common idea that exposure to simplistic, consumer-facing products - especially in schools - somehow prepares people to succeed in a high-tech economy.  Giving students iPads or allowing them to film homework assignments on YouTube prepares them for a high-tech economy about as much as playing with Hot Wheels would prepare them to thrive as auto mechanics.

Foot note on page 31

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I am not into politics

I believe that one day I will be judged for how I lived my life. I am sure God will have a long list of items for me to explain and questions to answer. He is a forgiving God. I believe in the saving Grace of Jesus Christ and I know I am a sinner.
I do not believe that one of those questions will be for me to explain why I was a liberal or a conservative as it was defined by the self-proclaimed liberals and conservatives in the early part of the 21st century. 
You don't have to know much about the history of the United States to know that how liberalism and conservatism is defined today is different than how it was defined in the 1930's, 1950's, 1960-1970's, and 1980's.
I am not a self-proclaimed liberal or conservative. 
I just don't think God cares about that. 
That's it. No politics. No judgment of others. No hate.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Where were you when........?

It is an unusual phenomenon that people remember where they were when certain big events took place.  When the topic came up, a very long conversation ensued as each person would describe exactly what they were doing, who they were with, what they were wearing, how they heard the news, etc.

December 7, 1941 was the date of the event for my grand parents generation.

November 22, 1963 was the date for my parents.

For my generation, it might be January 28, 1986.  That was the date that the space shuttle Challenger blew up.  The 30th anniversary of that event was just a couple of weeks ago.  Seems just like it was yesterday.   I was auditing the books at Modern Builders in Mtn View.  They had a big screen TV on display and we all stopped to watch the blast off.   Instead it blew up and the image will be forever tattooed on my brain.   You can watch it today on YouTube, but I can't

Now the good news is that not all dates that we vividly remember were disasters.   We all remember our graduation, our first kiss, our first..., well you know.   Some might remember something like a vacation.  Brenda loves to tell a story about a family vacation to Colorado the summer before her senior year in high school.  (Oh wait, that was also a disaster).   I remember going to St Louis in about 1968 to see my first Cardinal game.  I think dad might even have a Super 8 movie of Lou Brock stealing second base.   However, I can't remember the date or much else about that vacation.

The purpose of this ramble is to say that tomorrow is one of those dates for me.  February 13, 1986.  Happens to be 30 years ago.  I was in a Shoney's Motel in Little Rock.  I bet you didn't even remember that the Shoney's Restaurant Corporation had a short lived venture into the motel business.  Anyway,  Ed Deskin, Bob Hughes and I were in the motel.  We were in Little Rock because we were on an audit of a home health agency client of Bob's.   Sandye and I lived in Batesville at the time but I was upset because I was not in Calico Rock.   The reason I was upset was because there was a significant event happening in our family and I was not there.   You see, Brenda and Jack had been wanting a baby for a long time.    And finally on February 13, 1986 at about 11:40 PM, Ross Ward arrived.  A bouncing baby boy.

The newest addition to our family and I was in a motel with Ed Deskin in Little Rock.

I remember it just like it was yesterday.

Jeremiah was a bull frog!