Sunday, April 03, 2005

Polish Pontiff Passes, and a Muslim is Born

Yesterday, while tending the sick and comforting the dying, I spent several hours watching the news coverage of the passing of Pope John Paul II. One of my patients is Catholic, and while she lay ill, her family was agonizing over the Pope's demise. Apparently, the family had been bitterly divided after an argument over the Vatican II reforms, and were wondering how the change in Church leadership will effect their religious practice. One of the kids quited the room, saying "Well, Mom wouldn't like it, she always said Vatican II is the work of could say she didn't like change". After a minute of shocked silence, the room erupted with laughter, probably the first time any of these folks had laughed in a week or more.

On my way out of the hospital, I was approached by a trio of Somali women. They were lost, confused, near panic and trying to find the 4th floor. In their ethnic garb, body shape is hard to discern, but the 4th floor quest, combined with one of the women breathing heavily, led me to deduce that she was in labor. I grabbed a wheelchair and started heading towards labor and delivery. Even though one of the women with her spoke a little English, the Arabic that I'd learned in Saudi Arabia came in handy. I was never close to fluent, and I've forgotten a lot in the past 3 years, but my feeble attempts to communicate weren't a total failure, and she seemed comforted. Fortunately, another family member showed up before my Arabic ran out, and that lady was an excellent translator. I spoke with her a bit, and she inquired as to where I'd learned Arabic. When I told her Saudi Arabia, she made a sign to ward off evil, and said---"You don't have the Saudi pig accent". I'm not sure if she was kidding or not, but I didn't stick around to find out. Inshallah, mother and child are doing well.


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