A lot of my friends are retiring, and I keep getting asked if I’m retiring or if I am retired.  I guess it happens because I’ve passed that 60-year milestone. Patients have pleaded with me not to retire yet, and I reassured them that I’m not.  Indeed, I spend more time being an administrator now, but I still work clinically at least half my time, and I still enjoy it a lot.

Everyday in the operating room – the “OR”, feels like a vacation.  It gives me the chance to interact directly with patients, and that one-on-one care is what I trained for, what my mission still is, and at the end of the day, is the most important – care of the patient.  Each clinical day is like renewal, going back to what counts.  That energizes me to continue to try to make our university anesthesia department the best.

At her retirement party, one close friend, someone I consider a best pal, came up to me, gave me a big hug, and whispered in my ear “I will miss everybody, but I will miss you more, because you’re special.” I returned her hug with the same sincerity. When she was no longer working, it surprised me how much I missed her being around.  We often chatted about the kids – how school was going, how work was going, and where they all were, because it is hard to find work around here.

So, two thoughts came to mind.  Firstly, I learned how innate it is to return love.  It was a reflex to return a hug. The first commandment of loving “the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10: 26) sounds like an order.

Yet, how else does one respond to infinite love but in as close to an infinite way as possible?  It feels natural, fully human, to return love in kind. It must be that for loving God to feel like an order, or a threat, the knowledge of how much God truly loves isn’t there yet.  How sad!  Our Father is always calling us, reminding us that to Him we are special.

“They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts,

my own special possession, on the day when I take action.

And I will have compassion on them,

as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.” (Malachi 3: 17)

He will miss us if we go and will chase after us like a lost sheep. It must be close to impossible to resist returning that love if one feels it.  I can’t.  I won’t even try.  It’s too good to be true.

The other thought that came was a question:  What if God decided it was time for Him to retire?

Dr. Michael Bautista is a physician practising in St. John's and is the recipient of the 2015 Ignatian Spirit Award from St. Bonaventure's. He is also the Chair of the Discipline of Anesthesia at Memorial University. and an associate professor of Medicine.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 02:05h, 22 November Reply

    How wonderful to hear Mike! Thank you.

  • Robert Czerny
    Posted at 08:23h, 22 November Reply

    Although I tire somewhat, I too resist retiring, and I’m a decade ahead of you on the journey. But I had not thought of it in the terms you articulate. Thank you for this profound reflection.

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