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Father's Day

Albert J. Herrmann, MD; Elaine Herrmann, RN, MPH
JAMA. 1990;263(22):3017. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440220039014.
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My father died of lung cancer in 1975. He was a physician.

Much has been written about the marriages of physicians— the satisfactions, the discord, the dynamics of these marriages. What of the effect of the physician's life on his or her children? What will they remember of their physician/father? What legacy does his quality of life leave them?

I doubt my father would ever have guessed my answer; less would he imagine the profound effect his life has had on mine. The wife chooses her husband; the child knows no choice. One's father is the norm against whom all other fathers are measured. Other children's fathers played ball with them, took them camping and on vacations. They taught their children fair play, an appreciation of nature, and the importance of family. Paradoxically, it was my father's absences that taught me something more, a stratum above: the meaning of responsibility,


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