It will happen to all of us, some sooner than others. Sometimes it comes as a well-wrapped package, years in the making with celebration, affirmation, and anticipation. Other times, though, it’s not so well wrapped. Sometimes, it is unexpected, disheveled, leaving you confused, unsure, sad, hurt, angry a cauldron of emotions. It may be 30 years or more in coming but it will come, like the light at the end of that proverbial tunnel; the “not yet” of the future increasingly replaced by the “already been” of the past; the bugler’s last note waiting to be played. It’s the time when you leave the work that has, in many ways, defined who you are, for that “next stage” in life, however it may look. For some, one’s identity as a person is threatened and fear and uncertainty follow. For others, it is an unexplored path that veers off the main road disappearing into a forest, its ultimate destination unknown, a new adventure beckoning.
As I look back on my life’s journey “to make a difference” in this world, there is an exact time and place at which I can say, “That was the start, the beginning, my reveille, my early morning bugle call.” It was July 2, 1973, the day I entered West Point. I was 17 years old and I knew, at least I thought I knew, what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to be “an Airborne, Ranger infantry officer and lead men in combat”. But God had other plans for me. Medicine was my calling and making a difference in the lives of people my passion. For over 42 years I have dedicated my life to serving both my country and others. All things, though, eventually come to an end. General Douglas MacArthur, in his farewell speech to Congress upon his “retirement” from the Army, eloquently said, “Old soldiers never die, they just slowly fade away”, and so it is with me. I do so, not so much with sadness, though it is there, rather with extreme gratitude that I have been able to do what I love to do most – care for and serve others and teach, encourage, and mentor those who follow me. I do so, standing at the beginning of that unexplored, untraveled path, poised to take that first step, my “next stage” waiting. It’s how it should be; how I want it to be.
It is with sadness, though, that this will be my last “Bugle Notes” to you. Thank you for allowing me to share them with you. I wrote them to encourage you, to support you, and to remind you that what you do is important; what you do makes a difference every day; and what you do it is still a privilege. I hope I succeeded in even a small way. You are appreciated; you are valued; you are loved.
Andy Lamb, MD
Author's comment: This is the last "Bugle Notes" I wrote to the medical staff of the hospital system where I was the Vice President of Medical Affairs. Over a little more than 5 year period I wrote close to 100. I chose for this blog page the one's I felt best sent the message I wanted to convey and would be applicable to any health care provider no matter where they were. I will continue to write my "Bugle Notes" and add them to this page. I hope you will continue to check back periodically for my latest! In the meantime, should you so choose, there are plenty "Bugle Notes" here to be read!
If any of these stories have had a special meaning to you in any way, I would love to hear about that! I write from my heart and I hope at least a few of these stories will touch yours.
AL May 2020