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President’s Paragraph – “Reflections”

by Tilden Childs, MD – TCMS President

This piece was originally published in the November/December issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

by Tilden Childs, MD – TCMS President

This is my last article as president, and as I think upon the past year, my mind drifts to reflections upon my life, my family, my friends, my associates, my teachers, and my profession—especially to the many patients for whom I have worked and strived for excellence in care over the last four decades. The seasons of life pass before our eyes in slow motion, but when the fall of our life arrives, we wonder how it all went so fast. I am thankful for the time that I have had on this earth and for the exposure to the many various facets of our world, both directly and vicariously, and particularly in what I consider to be the most intense and rewarding profession, the practice of Medicine. It is a privilege, indeed a calling, to be part of this greatest of professions.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your TCMS president this year.

One of the interesting and entertaining friends who appeared ever so briefly in my life is Dr. Charles D. Williams. Charlie is a radiologist in Tallahassee, Florida. I met him through my participation at the American College of Radiology on the AMA Delegation. Charlie was awarded the ACR Gold Medal a couple of years ago. He wrote two books called Simpler Times (1993) and More Simpler Times (2008), where he reflected on his life growing up in Moultrie, Georgia, as the son of a Colquitt County sharecropper during the 1940s, “during the time when life was less complicated—the time when people had to make over, make do, or do without.” Believing that laughter is the best medicine, Dr. Williams’ books are collections of stories written through the eyes and innocence of a young boy nicknamed Pedro at birth by his grandmother. The short stories reflect on the wisdom and humor of his grandma and her three boys—Millard, Dillard, and Willard. As he states in the introduction to his second book, “we need to understand and appreciate where we came from so that we can recognize where we are.” Or as his grandma used to say, “The main thang is to keep the main thang the main thang.” Charlie is a dear friend!

“The seasons of life pass before our eyes in slow motion, but when the fall of our life arrives, we wonder how it all went so fast.”

In my own life, when summer comes to an end and the fall begins, I always reflect on my time at the former boys’ camp in Hays County known as Friday Mountain Boys Camp. I first went there in the early 1960s when I was eleven years old after failed strenuous resistance to my parents unwavering determination to deliver me to the hands of unknown strangers in a foreign land. But what a magical place it was! I went there for four summers as a camper, two summers as kitchen help, and a total of six summers as a counselor during college and medical school. The daily routines and weekend programs offered at the camp seem remarkable now. In one place, a kid could learn about nature (I tried hard to learn to like snakes), horseback riding, swimming, scuba diving, and handicrafts. They had various opportunities to learn and participate in sports in a relatively non-competitive and friendly environment, as well as learn how to safely handle and shoot a rifle and throw horseshoes. Hiking over the several hundred acres of the camp, and particularly up and down Friday Mountain, gave everyone a wonderful exposure to nature and an appreciation of the land. There was even an educational day trip into town to see parts of Austin (it was my one and only time to go to the top of the UT Tower), and a three-day overnight trip to Lake Travis with swimming, water skiing, and sailing. As a counselor, I had the opportunity to learn and then teach sailing on Lake Travis. Yes, I got paid to go swimming and sailing on Lake Travis! And many kids and a few of us young adults learned some of life’s lessons as well as a number of Baptist hymns.  Sunday morning services on the wooded, shaded banks of Bear Creek were special. 

But as is true of life in general, times have changed, and the former camp is now the oldest Hindu Temple in Texas and the largest in North America, Radha Madhav Dham (formerly called Barsana Dham). For an interesting and insightful reflection on the history of the camp and its subsequent transformation, I refer you to the article by David Gaines in The Wall Street Journal issue dated September 12, 2020, entitled “I Climbed Up Friday Mountain and Down Barsana Hill.” Some of us former campers and counselors still remember the way it was and are sad that it is no longer, but in some small way, this article helps to provide me with at least a measure of closure. To quote the final sentence of the article, “Land uses change, but the land abides. And the characters just keep rolling through.” 

How true, how true! And that is one of the things I have come to realize about life in general—“the characters just keep rolling through.”

And finally, whatever your belief, I hope that you can appreciate what my friend Dr. Doug Cecil has shared, as gleaned from an old benediction from a circa 1850 Anglican Prayer Book:

Now go into the world in peace,
Have courage,
Hold on to what is good.
Honor all men,
Strengthen the fainthearted,
Support the weak,
Help the suffering,
And share the Gospel.
Love and serve the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.