At the end of the day

Friday was bitter-sweet for patients of Dr. Tom Braddock who has been a healer and a confidant to several generations of families in North Mississippi. He took off his stethoscope for the last time and did what he always does – headed for the golf course.

Dr. Braddock has been my doctor for fifty-eleven years and he never charged me a penny. I bet I’ll have a hard time replacing him. Oh, did I mention he’s also my Daddy? He’s been practicing medicine for 58 years and finally decided to take an extended vacation – the first one in many years.

I had the honor of being his last patient – or would have, if my friend Ruthie didn’t horn in on my time to get a shot. As we had the last “doctor-patient” talk we heard commotion out in the parking lot. Low and behold, about 200 patients had gathered to bid him farewell and honor him on his “last day”.

“Dr. B” went out to hug the adoring crowd one by one. He had so many lipstick colors on his cheek he looked like a clown at the end of the day. You must understand he has practiced gynecology for the past 30 years but still had as many male patients as female. I asked a man in the crowd if he told his friends that he was seeing a gynecologist. He answered, “They are seeing him too!”

Regardless of what they called him, he was a family doctor. Ready, willing and able to treat whatever the malady. Funniest thing is he didn’t plan to be a doctor. He was going to be a Baptist minister to please my grandmother. Then he met my mother who had promised her mother she would marry a doctor. He switched his major from preaching to healing, and he said it was the greatest gift my mother could have given him.

I stood and watched the celebration of a life that made a difference in so many lives. I thought back about the day his hair turned gray when he delivered my first child (I had been a bad patient and developed toxemia. I’m not sure another doctor could have pulled off such a seemless delivery). I remembered him delivering my second son and making me the happiest woman on earth.

I remembered the Christmas that he decided we wouldn’t exchange gifts. He picked the patient that owed him the most money and we took them our Christmas! I didn’t like that at all at the time. Today, I realize that family needed a Christmas in their lives – we already had it.

Speaking as a patient, how do you say good-bye to the person who orchestrated the beginning and ending of life for so many… and with so much compassion. Speaking as a child, I feel so lucky to have shared this space on the planet with him as my mentor and my guide.

18 thoughts on “At the end of the day

  1. What a wonderful tribute to a remarkable man….Dr. Braddock. He was mother’s doctor, and daddy’s, too, and mine! Dr. Braddock delievered my oldest son, Andy. And even though we lived in Tuscaloosa at the time, I came back to West Point so he could deliever my second son, John Paul.
    John Paul came early, and Dr. Braddock was on a trip to China in the fall of 1972 (if I recall correctly), so Dr. Lott delievered John Paul.

    How blessed we all are to have him in our lives! He will always be the #1 doctor in my book!

    Olivia

  2. Thank you Olivia. You and I are the recipients of the two best fathers ever assigned by God…and our mothers, Oh My Gosh! Don’t get me started on that. I’m wondering why we were so blessed. I can hear Vivian and Avis now – urging us to hold our shoulders up. And to be kind. And to be loving. And to be generous.

  3. I had no idea that your Dad was going to retire. Your story touched my heart and made me shed a few tears. You are blessed to have such a great man as a father, and his patients will sorely miss him although they are indeed fortunate to have had him watching over their health and that of their families for so many years.

  4. Hi Emily,

    This is a wonderful tribute indeed. I know you are proud of your dad, and looks as though the whole town is as well. Thanks for sharing this, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet him recently as well as learn so much about him from you. West Point is indeed blessed.

    Nance

  5. Emily,
    You & Olivia have could not have said it better! He is a remarkable man
    that has touched the lives of sooo many people. He has certainly been there for my mom, and my dad when he was living, for this I will always have a special place in my heart. You are indeed blessed! I hope the two
    of you will be able to spend a lot of time together during this next phase of
    his life. He is truly a gift!

  6. ditto on all the above, and then some. as with the rest of the town he took care of me and my children so many times. we were lucky enough to live up the street from Dr. Braddock when my children were growing up and i can’t tell you how many times they came home bandaged and eating a popsicle!!! i will never forget the time they were playing and they decided to build a dam in the ditch that runs through his yard. yep, flooded the enitre back yard! instead of an angry call, i answered the phone and mrs. martha asked if the boys could come help them unstop their ditch. i assume they simply called the usual suspects..haha it was no surprise when they came home soaking wet with popsicles yet again!!! Thanks for sharing a wonderful tribute to an amazing man! enjoy your retirement Dr. B.

  7. Emily,
    You dad is truly one of God’s special blessings and I am so thankful that he was a part of my life. He delivered my daughter Dana and I shall always have wonderful memories of him visiting my mother at the nursing home. Her eyes just lit up when he entered her room….but you know, he had that effect on everyone!

  8. How beautifully put! I don’t think that there are any more accolades than already written. You are so blessed to have such a wonderful man for a father who cares so deeply for so many people. Dr. Braddock is a true hero for me and my family. He has taken care of me for 53 years and will be deeply missed. He will always have a special place in our heart.

  9. Many thanks to all of you for your beautiful comments about Daddy. I just keep thinking how great it is to show someone our appreciation for their lives while they are still alive and well. Too many people are gone before we recognize how much they made a difference in the world!

  10. Well – you know I have to add to all of the above! My mind tells me it was inevitable, but my heart wishes differently — he is truly a remarkable man and we will miss being able to see him at his office, but I can bet he will still be dispensing that caring to those who need it. Dr. Braddock helped me so much with my Mother and Roger and of course, me, when I needed him — I am so appreciative!

    You are so lucky to have had your Father with you for all these years — thank you for sharing him with the rest of us!

  11. Well, thank you, Emily — for the picture of my Mother, Maggie King, with her hero, Dr. Braddock !! It was a wonderful retirement send-off for him.
    I’ll get this picture to Mother. Thanks again. Shelby

  12. Was so nice to finally meet you Shelby. Let me know next time you are in Starkvegas and we’ll get together. I know you love southern writers. Did you see my post on “verbena”. You must get it. A good read.

  13. When I worked at the hospital as a nurses aide, I saw some awsome acts by your father. When a woman came in to deliver her seventh child, Dr. Braddock came to deliver it even though she had never been in for a in for a prenatal visit. Before we had medicaid or medicare he willingly admitted a sick elderly woman laying in her own urine in the back of a pickup truck knowing he would never get paid for her care. The doctors had a lot of that.
    The fun memory is that he got a new “stapler” ear piersing machine and we all begged to be his first patients. Mine still look great!

  14. Emily – I must put these in the book! How great that you let me know. I’ll pass this on to Daddy.

    Incidentally he pierced my ears and got one about a quarter inch lower than the other. People are always saying “I think you’re losing an earing.”

    “No, I just got a free piercing, you know how that goes.” I tell them.

    Thanks – Lota said she enjoyed seeing ya’ll so much. Wish we could have come by too., Say hello to your mother..she’s my role model, of course.

  15. Emily,
    I am so glad I found this site! We left Clay County in 1963 and left our wonderful Dr. Braddock. But he has taken care of all of our aunts, uncles, cousins and on and on. One of the most precious memories is of Dr. Braddock on the afternoon after our dear Aunt Nell had a wreck. He was called and he left his office and came to her. We will forever be grateful for his coming because she knew he was there. Of course, we have had the extra joy of knowing you! And “Miss Martha” taught me to type!
    Dot

  16. I did type a response/comment. Then I did something wrong. So I hope you can read my first comment.

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