Dr. Leila Denmark–One Who Cared

from Fox News 4-4-2012

It is interesting that I just put up my poem about the lack of consistent, ongoing caring.  We are so easily distracted and so much more aware of our own needs than those of others.  The exhortation still stands, for others and me, but here is one huge exception that just got published this morning on Fox News.

Dr. Denmark has passed away at the age of 114.  I knew her when she was my eldest child’s pediatrician–she in her mere 80s and still practicing medicine.

We moved to Atlanta in 1978 when my son was about 6 months old.  We were traveling musicians, trying to get set up in a different part of the country near my agent.  We were borrowing a friend’s apartment while they were on the road when my son came down with the measles, running high temperatures.  I would lay in the tub with him, nursing him, trying to bring his fever down.  As a new mom in a strange place, knowing few people, I was panicked.  Someone recommended Dr. Denmark.

When I drove down the lane, the place looked like just a comfortable southern home, not a medical office.  The office part was a small section that in my memory I think was attached to the house.  I walked in and took my place to wait to see the doctor.  There were no appointments.  You waited your turn.  And every appointment was five dollars.  (I wonder if she ever raised her prices.)

This tiny energetic lady, who even in her 80s still backpacked with her grandson, took over the care of my son.  She spent as much time as was needed with him and every other child, as well.  Never in a hurry, always full of love and focused attention.  She was a rock; and the whole time we lived there, she was my pediatrician.

Later, when we moved back to California, my number two son had quite a reaction to his DPT shot.  Since Dr. Denmark had worked on the whooping cough part of that, I called her in Georgia to ask what I should do.  She remembered me, or at least faked it kindly, and told me what was best.  There is no doctor on the planet I imagine who would take a call from a once again distressed mom and give free advice besides!  But she cared, and she cared consistently.  Caring was deep in her bones.

A few years ago, I happened to see a magazine about centenarians who were still in their professions, and there she was.  Over 100 and still practicing medicine, still loving on kids.  What a wonder.  And now she is gone.

What a marvel you were, doctor.  What a blessing you were to a new mom.  The fruit of your life is abundant, and you give me hope that there are some in the world who will follow Christ’s command and do “unto the least of these” all that needs to be done to provide for physical needs.  The spiritual and emotional gifts were kicked in for free.  Such a deal for five bucks.


About apronheadlilly

wife and mother, musician, composer / poet, teacher, and observer of the world, flawed Christ-follower
This entry was posted in Christian, Faith, Family, News, Thoughts, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Dr. Leila Denmark–One Who Cared

  1. katehobbs says:

    There are not too many people like this lady. When you find them in this rushed and unfriendly world, then it is a true gift in due season. What a lovely memory.

  2. danitacahill says:

    Oh you wrote that so beautifully, Lilly. Now I love this woman and I never even met her. Thank you for the tribute. She sounds like she was amazing.

  3. susansplace says:

    What a beautiful story, and tribute to an incredible woman! 114 years old!!! Isn’t it just fascinating that you should write your post about caring, or the lack thereof; and then see this news, spurring up such incredible stories. Amazing stuff!

  4. My kids’ pediatrician just retired, and he is much the same. He always took his time, and there was no question too small.

    • I have a bad attitude about doctors of late, though really there have been some wonderful ones that have kept my loved ones alive and stitched them up! But no one compares to Dr. Denmark. Such a jewel! As is yours, they are rare.

  5. clpollock says:

    So inspiring. Thanks for this.

  6. Dor says:

    How lucky you were to have such a doctor in your life! She was what I call one of the true givers in the world and the “little angels” were obviously her life work. And living to 114 and still practicing! Imagine? Lilly – thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

  7. I live in Atlanta, too, and I also knew of Dr. Denmark. We happened to hear a tribute to her on NPR, and I was so grateful to hear of her again, to know that she had lived a long, fruitful life, and that she was recognized in that radio program. I got teary-eyed thinking of her and her wise, loving, lifelong dedication when I heard that tribute, as well.

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