I start here...

C Berg

C Berg
Iowa, United States
January 01
Wondering who I am, in a world that no longer knows what it is, in a country that is not what it should be, belonging to a race that is for the rats.


OCTOBER 2, 2010 10:56PM

Scottish Doctor in "The Killing Fields"

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There has been death around me.  I don't understand it, but it is here.  A giant change is coming over...me...the world... 

I just came home from a Memorial Service for Dr. Mike Daly.  He was a local surgeon, and my friend Elizabeth's husband.  Mike Daly, among other incredible accomplishments, I just learned, was the Scottish doctor immortalized in the movie, "The Killing Fields."  Stories of his Red Cross Surgery Team work in Cambodia were captured in the book and movie when Mike refused to evacuate as the Khmer took over the country.  

Here in Iowa, he taught the art of medicine to Family Practice residents, and did three thousand surgeries in the Virginia Gay Hospital in Vinton, Iowa, some of which he would not have been allowed to do in Cedar Rapids because of the ultra-specialization of physicians here.  He believed and trained family doctors to do cutting edge procedures, unlike any training they can now get in the U.S.  He was instrumental in creating the new nine million dollar endoscopy service and facility in Vinton that is unique and will be exemplified this November at a professional conference by Dr. Brian Meeker.  

In August, I went to see Elizabeth, my friend and Vice-President at our locally owned Bankers Trust. I admitted it.  I need help.  My life is changing and becoming crazily unmanagable with the lymphoma of my sole support, Gregg my ex-husband.  I told her about my difficulties, how I was struggling against crippling depression, taking one day, one hour, at a time, and she said...yes...I can't even get out of bed some days...did you know that Mike died suddenly after just one month of illness?  

Two professional women, strong financial managers, one of us dressed impeccably, both burst into tears in Elizabeth's glass corner office.  I think I hugged her but I don't know how, with her huge desk between us.  I had no idea.  I was in my own stupor, stuggling to stay afloat, to manage my finances and life so as not to lose everything.  She was in her private chaos.  When I talked to Gregg about it, he said that Mike had an aortic aneurysm, and what they did for him in Houston is exactly how he would have treated him here in Cedar Rapids...Gregg is an interventional radiologist who treats aneurysms.  It was too late for Mike.  And Gregg is battling his own blood cells with the lymphoma, hoping for a stem-cell transplant.

The service at Christ Episcopal was beautiful, with Mike's sisters, collegues, and youngest daughter Louisa who is now working in Kabul, Afganistan, telling of Mike's gentleness, compassion, and competence.  Of his ability to put things into perspective.  Mike loved his life as a surgeon, and had a full and awesome career.  

Mike's three daughters, just a little older than my/our three daughters sat with Elizabeth.  Louisa told of her pride in her parents and their accomplishments, and of Mike's parenting style that 'forced us to make our own decisions,' and how Mike lives in each of her sisters.  All three daughters have traveled the world, working from Iceland to Africa, and are making a difference.  I wonder what Gregg's three daughters will/would say of their father when the time comes?  I hope the best. 

Talking to Gordon Baustian after the service, he said what all of us were thinking... none of us can believe Mike is actually gone.  As we filed out of the church, we sang "Loch Lomond," and then listened as the organist played the joyous, "Scotland the Brave."   

I wrote to the family...We each leave our mark on the world whether a small painting hidden in a cave in France, or a larger than life billboard of accomplishments like your husband and father.  You are so lucky to have had him in your lives for this time.  Many doctors never know their children.  I salute him and you for what you have created together.  May you all have comfort, joy and peace in his memory.      

                                                   With love and humility,

                                                    Carol V. Berg 

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family, cancer, death, memorial

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I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and for the struggles you face. In spite of those challenges, you managed to write a selfless and beautiful testament to Mike and beautiful words to the family. Peace and healing to you.
This is a very nice eulogy of sorts.

(But I have one minor correction. It was the Khmer Rouge that took over Cambodia, which was the Cambodian Communist Party. If you just say Khmer, you're referring to the ethnicity and language of 90% of Cambodians.)
Thank you, Cartouche. I love your writing.

And Cassie...yes....Khmer Rouge is what I've always heard. When I looked at Mike's memorial here:
by his family, they simply said Khmer, so I thought that might be correct.

I very much appreciate your comments. Thank you for witnessing this gathering that meant so much to me...that gave me a different perspective on my small life, and my contribution to the larger world. Day by day...hour by hour.
A brave, wonderful man. Grand post.
Thanks Carol,
You people are incredible.
My love to you all,
and a warm handshake Gregg.
You have done a wonderful tribute here to your friend's husband.

I lived there in your neck of the woods in my previous life. It is still my country and my people. Gather your courage. Draw on your friendships. It sounds as if Elizabeth is a good one. You will get through this. I know you will. These things have a way of evening out over time. I can promise you that.
Scylla...yes, he was a great man. He deserved the recognition he got, but did not ask for.
Kim, Thank you for your kindness. Love is always welome here.
Brassawe, Thank you for your support. I have to keep working at it to keep fear at bay. My friendships, and family, have been my hope. There is still a long way to go. I pray it will all work out.
Correction: Gregg tells me it was a portal vein aneurysm, not an aortic.
I am so sorry for all of the current pain in your life. So sad for the death of a good man, and hoping Gregg recovers! Please try to take a deep breath every time things are too much. I think that sometimes life loves throwing us curve balls, we just have to wait for the next pitch. Keep strong! R