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Lessons From My Father

By: Dr. Jim Goldstein

I wrote this a few years ago.  My dad, who died on 3/11/2017 at 98, still inspires me. 

My father, Eugene O. Goldstein, MD, will be turning 92 this summer.  Today, my wife and children and my brother are all flying to San Diego to visit my sister and her family for a family reunion.  My Dad and stepmom will be meeting us there.  My father is a source of constant inspiration to me and has given me a blue print for how to live a long and happy life.  They say that children learn what they live so here is what I have learned from how he lived his life and continues to live it.

1. Figure out what you love to do and do it — you’ll never have to work a day in your life. My dad has had a long standing love affair with medicine.  He was a pediatrician and an allergist for 47 years in Baltimore and loved every minute of it.  His diagnoses and treatment saved children’s lives both at home and in the Pacific islands of Okinawa and Guam where he served as  Navy Lieutenant during the Second World War.  Though he was in the presence of illness, bacteria and viruses for most of the day, he rarely even caught a cold.  He woke up early, hit three hospitals before getting to his office and would often make house calls after hours.  He may have been tired but he never complained.  He was doing what he loved.

2. Don’t retire. After he closed his private practice, he and my stepmom moved to Florida to a gated retirement community.  For many years they played tennis, golf and bridge, went out to dinner and seemed pretty content.  What I didn’t know was that my father missed medicine terribly.  He volunteered at a local clinic but they wouldn’t let him treat patients because he wasn’t licensed in Florida.  With out telling any of us, after being away from medicine for 14 years, at the age of 83, he studied for and passed the Florida Medical Boards and earned his license to practice again! He has worked as a volunteer doctor at the pediatric clinic twice a week ever since and loves it.  They love him, too, and recently honored him for his years of service. Watch a short video news clip of him Here.

3. Keep learning and trying new things. Since moving to Florida, my dad has continued his education by taking courses at the local college in global politics, history, music and art.  He reads novels, studies his medical journals and takes tests to earn his continuing education credits in medicine.  He learned to use the computer and keeps in touch with friends through e-mail like the rest of us.  Periodically, he uses Skype to see his first granddaughter and his three great grandchildren in San Diego. He and my stepmom go to museums, plays, and concerts and he calls to enthusiastically tell me about them.  This year he was excited to tell me that he has joined a choir (I never knew he could sing) and that they are giving local concerts of “old favorites.”  He was thrilled about it.

4.  Stay connected with your family and the people you love. My dad was the 9th of 10 children.  His parents were one of the first Jewish families in the Hampton Roads, VA area settling there in the early 1900’s.  His parents and siblings have all passed on.  On Sundays, my Dad calls his children and many of his nieces and nephews. Uncle Gene, as he is known, is still the one they call for medical advice.

5.  A life of service is its own reward. More than any other, this lesson sticks with me.  To be genuinely helpful to others and to make a difference in the lives of people around you gives me the greatest happiness and brings meaning and purpose to my life.  This is what I saw growing up — a life of service.

A friend of mine from elementary school just caught up with me on Facebook.  He was my father’s patient and his mom worked at my dad’s pediatric office as a nurse.  He said, “Tell your father that when I enrolled in medicare, I finally had to choose another doctor.”  Like many of his patients, my friend wanted to keep seeing my dad as his doctor into adulthood.  Just last week I met a woman who grew up in Baltimore who figured out that I was Eugene Goldstein’s son.  She couldn’t stop talking about how he held a sacred place in their family’s heart.  I hear this wherever I go.  A patient once gave him a framed drawing she had made of a little girl praying by the side of her bed.  The caption read, “…and God Bless Dr. Goldstein.”

Thanks, Dad.

Feel free to leave a comment below.


24 responses to “Lessons From My Father”

  1. Alan pressman says:

    So sorry for your loss. I was.moved by your powerful words about your dad.
    See you soon

  2. Cathy Wagner says:

    Jim, You don’t know me but I am Shawn Hauver’s Mother. I knew your Father well. I worked for Dr. Bryce Smith as. Dental Hygienist for many years and worked with Lucy Nethen Smith who had worked for your Dad. I can never forget all the kindnesses yourDad showed to me and my children. He would never charge me for pediatric services because I cleaned his teeth and he knew I was in a ,not so good, financial situation for many years. I certainly came out on the plus side of that and he always remembered me at Christmas. . He was such a blessing to us. He and Judy visited with Lucy and me a few times when Shawn was at Loews South Beach. I also, remember your Mother very fondly. She was such a beautiful lady. My sincerest condolences to you and all of your family. Blessings,Cathy Wagner

  3. Annette & Bruce says:

    Jim, you are your father. If raising a child in your own image is a real thing, this has to be the example of perfection. He sounds like an amazing man and someone all would want to know. We feel the same about you.

  4. Barry Eisenberg says:

    Jim, I only met your dad a few times but I left him each time with optimism & increased joy for life. He lived life with loving to others. I’m sorry for your loss, but you must have wonderful memories.


  5. Rob Snyder says:

    I remember a poster in your dad’s office titled: a child learns what they live

    • Dr. Jim Goldstein says:

      I remember that one, too, Rob. Children Learn What They Live
      By Dorothy Law Nolte

      If children live with criticism,
      They learn to condemn.
      If children live with hostility,
      They learn to fight.
      If children live with ridicule,
      They learn to be shy.
      If children live with shame,
      They learn to feel guilty.
      If children live with encouragement,
      They learn confidence.
      If children live with tolerance,
      They learn to be patient.
      If children live with praise,
      They learn to appreciate.
      If children live with acceptance,
      They learn to love.
      If children live with approval,
      They learn to like themselves.
      If children live with honesty,
      They learn truthfulness.
      If children live with security,
      They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
      If children live with friendliness,
      They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

  6. Pat Kelbaugh says:

    So sorry for your loss. Your dad is an inspiration to us all. So are you too!

  7. Christie Bickelman says:

    Did your father practice with Dr. Irving Kramer on Reisterstown Road?

    • Dr. Jim Goldstein says:

      He sure did. I am still in touch with Irv Kramer (92) who always wanted to know how my dad was doing.

  8. Arlene Rabovsky Furst says:

    So sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. He was my doctor and I remember that he made house calls and was so nice. When I told my mom (who is 90) that he passed away she said that she remembers that he never made her feel like it was her fault if my brother or I got sick-he was so caring. So glad that he lived a full and long life.

  9. Kathy McCaskey says:

    I am so sorry for your loss – and it is a big loss. I was a patient of your Father, as were my 4 younger siblings. He was so kind and patient. I was never afraid to “go to the doctor”. I was one of the patients who went to him until I got married. I would go to check-ups when I was home from college. When my son asked me if it would be ok to go to his pediatrician when he was a college student, I told him “yes”. I told him the story of your Dad. When we were in Baltimore, I drove him past your parent’s home, and showed him where “my” doctor lived. In my opinion, and apparently MANY others, he was one of the finest human beings on earth. What wonderful memories your family must have.

  10. Your father was both of my daughters’ pediatrician. He was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man and doctor. They loved him and we felt blessed to have him care for our girls. He has never been forgotten and he is the model by which all of our doctors are measured. His life and memory is a blessing to us all.

  11. Sandra Kanuchok says:

    I was one of your dad’s first patients in his office in Pikesville. He was a wonderful, caring pediatrician and my brother and I saw him many times while we were growing up! Your dad also took care of my children from the time they were newborns until they were ready for college. Your dad was always there for us. God bless him. I am sure there is a special place in Heaven for him!!

  12. Candee Fox Mirkin says:

    I’m another one of your fathers patients. He was my doctor until he retired, and my children’s Pediatrician as well. When I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter at age 29, my OB asked me who my doctor was as I had a poem he wanted to discuss. I replied, “Dr Gene.” He was huffy and informed me that Dr Gene was a Pediatrician. I shrugged my shoulders and told him to call him. Sure enough, your father had kept my records for 29 years! I sat Shiva when I received the letter saying he was retiring. Really, I cried like a baby. When my children were born, he walked in with a copy of that poem . No one else has ever told me that their pediatrician walked into their hospital room with a gift for Mother. It made me laugh when he called me Mother. I couldn’t expect him to remember everyone’s name. He did remember my history though. He was a great doctor and a wonderful person. How lucky you were to have him as your father!!

  13. Wallace kleid says:

    please provide a way to send an email that was not delivered to jamesgoldstein@verizon.net; difficult to do a lot of typing; my sons were both patients

  14. jeffrey gaber says:

    your dad was my pediatrician in his office across from the old mike and jules! i recall the day, circa age 6, i ran out of there, down reisterstown road, to escape a vaccine…only to be caught by a police parent in the waiting room. little did i know i too would become a physician! he was always very kind, and i remember him treating me in my kitchen on stevenson road for strep throat. when my wife was pregnant with our 1st we interviewed uncle gene (my dad was a physician as well, and we called your dad by that moniker), and i remember well his bushy eyebrows, calm demeanor, and the fact that he looked shorter then when i had last seen him 15 or so years earlier! also, i graduated from park school ’69 with your brother marty but have lost touch. please send him my regards. apologize for the tardiness in sending my thoughts! uncle gene was very special!

  15. Eric Beser says:

    I just heard about your father’s passing. As my pediatrician growing up, I have fond memories of him. He was old school. I rarely was sick growing up, but i remember a bad case of measles and your dad sitting by my bedside. Later on, while watching “Marcus Welby MD” on TV, i always thought that they made this in honor of your dad, who was the real life Marcus Welby. When my kids were born, my wife and I had wanted to take them to Dr Gene who just retired, but he hired is replacement well and Mike Andorsky was our doctor and still is a good friend.

    May his memory always be for a blessing.

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