Friday, May 15, 2009
I didn't say goodbye and Thank you Willem, as I should have at the time. I didn't even know you were still alive and in Pennsylvania, until you were gone. I'd have loved just one phone call with you.
Hope you'll forgive my using this picture from the old days? I had one of you as an adult, and really Willem with a kisser like that you could've played a Doctor on TV. But you didn't play a Doctor, did ya? You were a Doctor, smack dab in the middle of the big Mac Daddy hellhole of the 20th century.
I used this photo, cause I like you geeky in those black knee socks, on a day you never guessed what lay ahead. And cause ya'll do kinda look like the Addams family, no offense. But there you were Willem, on a spring day, everybody staring at the camera like a smile would kill 'em, and you never dreamed back then, did ya bud?
You'd grow up to be a Dutch Doctor, conscripted for service on wounded German soldiers in Nazi occupied Holland. And you stole medical supplies didn't ya? Every evening as you went through the checkpoint in your car, with that stuff in your trunk, did your pulse quicken, or were you cool as ice? Cause you knew if they looked in your trunk, they'd want to ask some questions.
After you left the Nazi hospital, you went to the secret hospital. There those medical supplies were used for downed Allied fighters, escaped POW's and Jews too. One big ol' happy family at the secret hospital, and your involvement would've meant a date with a firing squad, or transfer to a concentration camp, if you got caught.
And while all that was going on, you were inventing the kidney dialysis machine. Thanks Willem, on behalf of the tens of thousands who have their lives extended by your invention, and will never even know your name. And the circumstances under which you made your breakthroughs, wow! Does Edison have anything on you?
You never got the Nobel did ya? You will always be my hero Willem, a standard for the behavior I expect from myself. You passed, two days before my birthday. For the rest of my life, my birthday will always be a time to pause, consider and celebrate your achievements, your courage under fire when courage alone held the thin line against an inconceivable madness. You did good work man. But you do look hilarious in those black knee socks!