It's been tough to accept John Girard's passing, and I've labored over this remembrance for as long as absolutely possible. I would be failing him, however, if I don't get these thoughts in as a remembrance. He was a calming, trusted advisor to me during some of the most difficult times of my life.
He was a true physician, who collected the facts, performed analysis, and then selected a course of action sometimes immediate, at others a conservative watchful and wait approach. In 1977 after an all night vigil and attempts at inducing labor he delivered my daughter by C-Section. Amazingly patient, Dr. Girard monitored my ovarian cysts judiciously for eleven years until they became problematic when he removed them. Dr. Girard was the first doctor, (and still my only doctor) who took the time to sit down in his office and talk with each patient before an exam, treating us like a people, not just patients.
Clearly he cared enough about each of us enough to build a level of trust so that when the time came, and we needed his help to make a judgment about some really life changing issue, we knew we could talk with him, and trust him to give us an honest answer.
Dr. Girard and I learned during one of my early visits that we both attended high school in the same city, although he graduated about the same time as my brother, a few years ahead of me. So we talked about our hometown, as opposed to our Bay Area lives and the connections in each.
He listened to all my ups and downs, and we shared stories and advice on parenting experiences during my annual visits. I, like one of the other writers here, was concerned, selfishly so, that he would retire, and "horrors" we would need to see someone else! I He had such a terrific sense of humor, that at times would surface unexpectedly to make me laugh, especially during those tough times when I really needed to. Sometimes Dr. Girard was serious and I'd think he was joking, and would need to confirm by asking, "You're serious aren't you", like the time he marched into the labor room and told me that he needed to deliver my baby by C-Section?
I told him of trying to get my little girl to sleep at night, and he told me of his strong-willed little girl, and how she would swing over the side of her crib, and get to the door because she just wasn't ready for bedtime. We both felt coldhearted, he especially so I think when he found her later, sound asleep on the floor just inside the door of her room. We both knew that it was harder on us to not come running than for our offspring frustrated, but safe, in their own room.
When they were grown-up we commiserated over our children with dreams of filmmaking, because we were concerned about what a tough career it is, and "Did they have health insurance?" He also, was kind enough to see my daughter as a patient when she returned to the Bay Area from New York, and I was determined to get her in to see gynecologist. She was so proud that the doctor who delivered her was such a great doctor, such a special person, and that he would now see her as a patient.
Once years ago, as I exited the building elevator heading down the hallway toward the Dr.'s Berkeley office, another woman was entering and she asked if I was going to see Dr. Girard. She was a perfect stranger to me, but she felt strongly enough after her appointment to say to me, "He is really such a special person isn't he?"
I figured out long ago that both he and his brother are two people who were blessed to find their "true calling" in life, and in turn they were willing to share their gifts with us. Dr. Girard and I discussed the world of medicine, the training of today's physicians, and, oh, how the world of medicine has changed. We will so miss him. He set a pretty high standard for any doctor who I met afterwards, no matter what their specialty.
I know that he was devastated at the loss of Katie, and I hope that he has found the solace that he was seeking after her loss.
To his children, his brother, and close family and friends, thank you for allowing us to share this great man, who gave so much of himself.