As a young six or seven-year-old kid growing up in the early 1930s, my late father liked to spend time on Saturday and Sunday mornings with his dad--an ob-gyn doc--as he made his rounds of house-calls in the neighborhoods that spread to the east of Manhattan, in Queens and Brooklyn, New York.
They'd find a parking space, and sometimes would have to walk a few blocks to the patient's home or apartment. My grandfather would carry a big black cowhide doctor's bag filled with his essentials, and my father--he recalled--had his own miniaturized black leather bag and his own little stethoscope, as he tried to keep pace with his father.
My grandfather would live to see two of his four children follow in his professional footsteps, one of them being my dad, who would live to see two of his own children grow up to be doctors, and one of his 17 grandchildren--my niece Kate--get started as a pathologist in medicine in the past few years.
Walking two or three quick steps for every one of my grandfather's strides, and stopping in to see those families on weekend mornings etched itself into my father's being. He wanted to help people who were sick, or needed medical attention of some sort. He practiced surgery--mostly in New York City's West Side--for the better part of 45 years.