PETE & THE POWER OF STORY

Pete (2)

Meet Pete. Dr. Lyle Peter Daley, MD was of the magical, or diabolical, age to have served in WW1 and WW2. In the second war, he taught Army medics and doctors, preparing them for battlefield care. Like his sons, the beloved Dr. Pete had a dry wit and ready smile. Legend has it that when I was born, he took one look at me and declared, “She’s a dandy!” It’s a nice story anyway. I think I have memories of Pete, my grandfather, who was never called anything but “Pete.” I can picture his large shoes under our dining table, where I’d taken refuge during the grownups’ dinner. I can picture him standing beside his old car, and me, clinging to his ankles because I wanted to go with him.

But I was only 2 years old when he died. And now, I can’t distinguish memory from story, stories I’ve heard dozens of times. Am I really remembering those moments?

It was Pete’s heart attack that made Frank and Helen leave Washington D.C., put off their plans of moving south to set up their medical practice, probably in Miami, and go to Hamilton, Missouri, to care for the town’s patients “until Pete recovered.” But Pete never grew strong enough to resume his role as town doctor, and Frank and Helen stayed…and stayed…and stayed–50 years.

 

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