The following is a post I wrote for the Springdale Hospital Alumni Group. While I never worked there, I’ve known hundreds of people who have. Last year, they got me started doing scans of hundreds of their collected pictures, spanning decades of work and friendship. They invite to the parties as if I’ve been a member the entire time. Most of these parties are held at Dr. Jerry Dorman’s house, with his wife Jackie doing most of the legwork. I’ve been very lucky to get know the Dormans over the last year. It certainly feels like these types of friendships are rarer, given that it’s a struggle to be at a job long enough to develop lasting connections.
Now that the sound of banjos has subsided and Marilyn has visited us for her annual Tea Party, the slow mist of friendship settles peacefully back upon this town of Springdale. Unlike the hurried, insistent acquaintances we so often form in this new, modern world, today was the day when friends could pull up a chair, share a story, and know that no matter how anticipated the punchline, that there would be friendly ears to appreciate the memories as they mutually looked back upon what they shared.
As an outsider, it was comforting to see old friends bonded by work rejoined in laughter and stories. It’s an increasingly rare thing to experience connections at work, and a rarer wild bird still to find them still breathing years and decades later. I’m truly envious of the stories of Springdale Hospital and have gained much more from this group than I could ever pay back in, even if I were to scan ten thousand pictures for everyone involved.
It’s true that our memory is traitorous to the truth as we age and that the daily frustrations of work and life fade with time, allowing us to better appreciate the timelessness of friendships. I can’t escape the feeling that perhaps many of these folks, however, were able to smile more often, laugh more deeply, and take away a little more from their days at the hospital than the rest of the mortals who weren’t lucky enough to experience the halcyon days of Springdale Hospital.
The Dormans were gracious hosts for opening their beautiful home to everyone, but also for joining along with the crescendo of laughter that ascended to the sky on this impeccable May afternoon. Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Jerry didn’t get out his banjo and sing this year, nor did Marilyn demonstrate to the rest of us the best way to flamenco dance. (Although promises were made.)
For those who attended, you’ll have to assure those who didn’t that they indeed were the topic of much merriment and speculation in their absence. This group left an echo in time today. These echoes are what makes living such a gift.