The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
Marion Pritchard, a gentile whose shock at watching Nazi soldiers storm a home for Jewish children in Amsterdam and load them into a truck for deportation inspired her to enter a clandestine world of rescuing Jews, died on Dec. 11, 2016 at her home in Washington, DC. She was 96.
Please read her moving NY Times obituary. It's inspiring to be reminded of true heroism. This woman's brave and quiet work is a candle in the dark.
"On a cloudless Sunday afternoon in April, a 100-year-old woman named Ida Keeling laced up her mustard yellow sneakers and took to the track at the Fieldston School in the Bronx. Her arrival was met without fanfare. In fact, no one in the stands seemed to notice her at all."
This is a fine piece about healthy aging. Ms. Keeling is an outlier; but it is important to study (and celebrate) the lives of exceptional people. If you click on the article, don’t skip the one minute video!
We were fortunate to have known Alan Mermann, a dear and glorious physician who, during his earthly tenure, wore many hats: cared for pediatric patients, investigated art, music, philosophy and attended to the spirit. He was a pioneer in death and dying studies at Yale; a patient and gentle man who cared for many both physically as a pediatrician and spirituality as the pastoral leader for Yale Medical School.
As chaplain, he created a safe space for medical students to come and decompress from their crazy schedules. We visited this sanctuary once and remember a quiet place with comfortable chairs, coffee, tea, cookies, the New York Times and a pervasive feeling of welcome. We also recall a lecture Mermann gave around 1990 on van Gogh’s life called “Starry, Starry Night.” It had music, great images and inspired introspection. How many presentations are still vividly remembered after a quarter of a century?
As a 16 year-old, Reginald Dwayne Betts was a good student in a magnet school. However, he veered off-course when he and a friend carjacked a man at gunpoint who had fallen asleep in his car. Betts was charged as an adult and spent more than eight years in prison, where he completed high school and began reading and writing poetry. After his release he attended Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland and currently is a student at Yale Law School.
Betts, has published a memoir, A Question of Freedom, and a book of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era. His powerful, cautionary and inspirational story was featured by Terri Gross’s on Fresh Air, December 8, 2015.
A corollary story is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. (A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.) If Betts had had Stevenson as a lawyer, he may not have been sentenced as an adult.
Jim Burns was my neighbor in Williamstown, Massachusetts. During the last two yeas of his life, I spent many hours chatting with him about matters great and small. As a phyciaian, I was witness to his slowing down, to his becoming a lion in winter. Jim died this past July. His partner, Susan Dunn, sent some pense (thoughts).
"In 1973 or 1974, at one of the first Williams College faculty meetings I attended as a young assistant professor, the discussion was about whether the college should sell the lovely Mount Hope estate. I remember that a tall, well-spoken professor stood up and said that he hoped that the college would not sell this extraordinarily beautiful property -- and that in fact, he had recently escorted Lady Bird Johnson up there; and he mentioned how impressed she had been. I was sitting next to my friend Jay Pasachoff and I asked Jay, “Who is that?” And he said, “That’s James MacGregor Burns.” For the full text of Susan's remarks: Download ABOUT JM Burns
"Helen Bamber, whose volunteering to comfort broken survivors of a Nazi concentration camp when she was 19 inspired her to devote her next seven decades to helping more than 50,000 victims of torture in 90 countries, died on August 21, 2014 in London. She was 89.
"...she worked with many patients herself as a psychotherapist — which she became through experience, she said, rather than an academic degree.
"At Bergen-Belsen, where she spent 2.5 years after WWII, Ms. Bamber felt helpless in alleviating suffering, she told The Observer in 2008, but she realized that she could contribute simply by listening to people tell their stories. She promised them she would not let their stories die. 'It took me a long time to realize that that was all I could do' she said."
Hers is an important and moving life. Helen Bamber touched scores of thousands of individuals across the globe Full NY Times Obituary.
Nicknamed the Chosen One by his peers, Jay Adams in the 1970s pioneered an outlaw image and new approaches to shateboarding that was at the time associated with roller skating. Taking his skateboard down steep hills and up the walls of an empty swimming pool — and, finally, over the walls’ edges — Adams helped usher in the aerial, or vert, style of skateboarding.
Adams died on a surfing trip to Mexico on August 15. 2014 at the age of 53.
The NY Times had two interesting articles about him in the August 18 issue.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation... A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work." H. D. Thoreau
Thoreau sequestered himself at Walden. The erstwhile neurologist, Dr. John Kitchin, fled a medical practice to in-line skate on the boardwalk. On any given day, "Kitchin [can be seen] meticulously skating up and down San Diego's promenade. Disillusioned with a life that had become increasingly materialistic, he abruptly abandoned his career and moved to a studio by the beach. The locals call him Slomo, knowing little about his past life, but cheering and high-fiving him as he skates by in slow motion. He has become a Pacific Beach institution."
If you missed the provacative and, for some, inspirational NY Times article, click on SLOMO.