Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rocky White, MD-Rest in Peace

I wanted to write this tonight in memory of a great man. John "Rocky" White, was a surgeon in Decatur Illinois. Fate took me in the direction of a town I would have never gone to otherwise. I met Rocky when I was a younger nurse. I took a position in 2001 as a traveller there. I remember the first day I met him. He just had a presence about him. I thought to myself, this man is larger than life here, and coming from Springfield where our hospitals were large trauma centers with doctors I loved, this is saying something about him. Rocky was a forward thinker-he brought Decatur out of the dark ages and into the 21st century with surgery. He was a God with the laproscope. I remember thinking early on...what is he doing here? He is so much bigger than this small town. He was so special to me in a matter of days. I did my stent at that hospital for a year and he and I became good friends. I realize now that Decatur needed him and he was right where he belonged.

When I told him my time was up there and it was time for me to head back to my hometown he was so unhappy with the news. I remember him asking me "what if I could arrange for you to stay here" and I thought to myself...well im a little burnt out on the whole hospital thing...I asked what he had in mind and to my shock he said, "I need a nurse for my office" I thought...psh...he's just yankin my chain. There were so many other nurses that he knew for so long who would have LOVED the chance to do this. He was just that kind of man. He was charismatic, charming, caring and had that boyish dare me to smile. You could read his emotions in his eyes. A couple days later he told me to contact the woman in his office who would be hiring me. I was stunned but JUMPED at this opportunity. I remember the night I quit the hospital and he joined me and some of the other nurses that I worked with in a celebration over drinks and food...god it was such a great time.

He and I....where to start...we had our differences, but I believed in him always. He was by far not perfect and definetly not the immortal I thought. What he was though was human. His generosity knew no bounds and he took care of those that took care of him. After spending a couple of years with him and watching him to continue to grow his practice I decided it was time for me to come back home to work. I had a newborn and he and I werent seeing eye to eye on some things. I have to say that leaving him was almost like leaving a husband for another man. I cried and fretted and was sick. I know I hurt him deep down for moving on, but I also know it was for the better. We kept in contact for a while but I know he felt somewhere that I was betraying him and I understood that and still do. There hasnt been a day go by that I dont appreciate all that he did for me, and all that he taught me. I assume there never will be.

On Monday January 18th at around 6pm I got a phone call from one of the girls that still works there saying he had been killed in a plane crash.

Tonight...I can no longer deny nor hope that it wasnt him.

Rocky flew his own plane. His beechwing was gorgeous and it was something that he was so proud of. He would fly Angel Flights- taking patients who couldnt afford to get to the specialists they needed to because they couldnt afford it. He would take his time and money and use his plane to do this. This wasnt just once in a while this was quite frequent. I remember having to rearrange his schedule for this at times. I always made him check in and when he didnt call me on time I would get nervous. I remember one time he flew into an airport and had to land because of weather. He had a patient with him, a young boy, and they were not at their destination. He rented a car, drove the patient and his mother to where they needed to go, and came back and waited out the storm then flew home.

Rocky was coming home from a vacation at his home in Boca Raton, Florida when his plane went down in Alabama. He was with a woman named Lisa Mattix. Lisa and Rocky went way way back. She was his scrub tech and then he hired her on as his nurse manager of his practice. She was easy going, laughed alot and was always smiling. She had a huge heart and her life as well as his ended far too abruptly.

Many will speculate the why's of them being together and all I have to say is this. Who cares why?

He leaves behind a wife, a son, a practice, and numerous people whose lives he saved when they had very little chance for survival. Im not bragging here, if you look him up you will see this.

So I write this tonight to say goodbye to you my friend, my boss, my teacher. I know your in a better place looking down on us. I would have rather you waited to be a guardian angel, but looking back I see that you always were. I will miss you for the rest of my days and will never forget you and be thankful I was one of the lucky few to be touched by your caring grace.

The purpose of life is a life of purpose. ~Robert Byrne

To which Rocky filled every day of his all too short life.

When I get where I'm going
on the far side of the sky.
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly.

I'm gonna land beside a lion,
and run my fingers through his mane.
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles,
I have carried all these years.
And I'll leave my heart wide open,
I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Don't cry for me down here.

I'm gonna walk with my grandaddy,
and he'll match me step for step,
and I'll tell him how I missed him,
every minute since he left.
Then I'll hug his neck.

So much pain and so much darkness,
in this world we stumble through.
All these questions, I can't answer,
so much work to do.

But when I get where I'm going,
and I see my Maker's face.
I'll stand forever in the light,
of His amazing grace.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.