Everyone I run into at the hospital wants to talk about Rose. I guess if you have been around a hospital as a nurse and volunteer for 50 years and live to be 101 years old, you have an impact on lots of people!
Today, Dr. Lachlan Forrow and I were at the front door waiting to share a cab downtown and we started talking about Rose. Lachlan has been head of our ethics program for years and also runs our palliative care service.
(More importantly, his daughter is a very good player in our town's soccer program, and I referee her games from time to time. In fact, Lachlan and I first met when I ordered him away from the goal area during a game. He was busy photographing his daughter's team from behind the goal line, and I told him he was distracting the girls and asked him to move over to the sidelines with the other parents. He complied. He had to. In contrast, as a faculty member in our hospital, he has much more freedom in choosing to comply or not with my requests. But I diverge from today's point!)
Today, Lachlan said something about Rose along the lines of her being the kind of person who, when you do something in a patient setting that you feel really good about, you think that she would have been pleased. From there we went to the broader topic of how many of us have a person like that in our lives: When we are in a tense, pressured, or difficult situation and have to make the right moral choice, our actions are often influenced by how someone we admire would have hoped that we would behave.
The concept goes beyond having a mentor. It is having someone who serves as a standard against whom we judge our own behavior during a moral test. The person can be alive or long gone. But at that moment of truth, he or she is standing over your shoulder watching and judging. (This is distinct, although perhaps additive to, the kind of conscience pricking that comes from religious beliefs.)
What do you think? Do you have a private moral guide in the person of someone alive or dead whose opinion you value during those tough moments?