Anyone who knows Rebecca, knows of her special relationship with Dr. Patel. Rebecca lets everyone know Brian is her “First Dad” and Dr. Patel is her “Second Dad.” When Rebecca got accepted to Harvard, she FaceTimed Dr. Patel to tell him the good news and he immediately said, “I am a very proud Harvard Second Dad.”
In some circles the term “Second Dad” might look a little different – but we have spent almost as much time living in the hospital as we have at home the past 11 years. Our doctors and nurses become family, but Dr. Patel has always held an extra special place in Rebecca’s heart.
From the beginning, despite their differences, Rebecca adored Dr. Patel. She bonded with this soft-spoken man in a way she never had with any other doctor. She was fascinated by his profession and was very inquisitive to his field of medicine.
Within a few weeks, at the age of eight, Rebecca made the decision she was going to be Dr. Patel when she grew up.
I realized how serious her intentions were when Halloween rolled around. Every year I dressed the children by theme. One year it was cowboys, one year farm animals, and one year medieval royalty—in 2010 they were to be pirates. Their costumes were fantastic and I was looking forward to another great year of pictures. Rebecca, thoroughly enjoying my past themes, changed her mind at the last minute. She was adamant about choosing her own costume—this year she was going as Dr. Patel. The thought was so absurd I laughed out loud. My eight-year- old, fair-skinned, green-eyed little girl wanted to dress up as a middle-aged Indian man.
How in the world was this going to look?
Yet no amount of pleading and redirecting would change Rebecca’s mind—she was going to be a pediatric pancreas physician like Dr. Patel when she grew up, and she was going to start now. Realizing I already lost the battle, I finally gave in.
It was one of the best parenting decisions I ever made. Rebecca glowed that Halloween. She loved being a doctor, and it thrilled her to dress as her future profession. November 1, 2010, was Rebecca’s third ERCP procedure with Dr. Patel. That morning after Halloween, sitting in the surgical waiting room, Rebecca excitedly showed pictures of herself—dressed as her hero.
I remember the look on his face like it was yesterday.
Dr. Patel stared at the picture in disbelief and tears sprang to the corner of his eyes. After trying to regain his composure he declared that all the awards he received in his career to that point paled in comparison to this moment. I was never more thankful my child got her way.
Rebecca continually stated one of the best parts of her being hospitalized was getting to see Dr. Patel. She excitedly anticipated his visits where she showed him her new inventions in her journal and they discussed what life would be like for her one day in medical school. Dr. Patel made Rebecca his honorary “fellow” and she would spend a day every summer shadowing him and learning her future trade. She surprised him with a Gastroenterology award at a ceremony in which she was asked to be the presenter reading her “Top Ten Things I Love about Dr. Patel.”
And during the hospital Christmas party of 2012, Dr. Patel presented Rebecca with the best gift she had ever received—a Pancreas Center lab coat with Dr. Rebecca Taylor embroidered on the front. Despite her compromised state that day, Rebecca beamed as she proudly wore this badge of honor. She felt a part of the team that was fervently working to save her pancreas. She was official.
Dr. Patel has walked every step of this medical journey – the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, right beside us. He never falters or waivers in his steadfast commitment to Rebecca, even when Rebecca’s complications are out of his specialty.
Outside of God, Dr. Patel was the closest in human form to heal Rebecca. He had ample opportunity to become prideful of his position, yet the more powerful he became in the lead role of Rebecca’s care, the more humility he portrayed. Dr. Patel is, without question, our unexpected miracle from the Lord.
So, it is only natural at the age of eighteen, Rebecca refers to Dr. Patel as her “Second Dad.” And it is only natural that Brian would buy Dr. Patel a t-shirt for Rebecca to present to him that said, “Harvard Dad” (for some reason, there were no t-shirts that said, “Harvard Second Dad?”).
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of “Second Dads.”
Love to each of you,