Our dear obstetrician, and friend, Dr. F. Clifton Miller died in an automobile accident last night, as he rushed to Jones Memorial Hospital for yet another emergency. He died as he had lived: serving others. I can’t imagine that we could have ever found a better guide through the incredible adventure of childbirth.
When we discovered we were unexpectedly expecting a few months after our wedding, my wife and I were thrilled and terrified, and so happy to have found Dr. Miller. When we found ourselves back in his office–in trouble at nine weeks–dear Dr. Miller had tears in his eyes as he told us the news that our pregnancy had ended. He seemed as joyful as we were when we were back again a year, later expecting our son. We loved our visits with him; his kind and gentle spirit shined through in every appointment. Despite his hectic schedule, he never made us feel rushed. He would lean back against the counter top to chat and tell stories and laugh with us. Once, when my wife asked if she was gaining too much weight, he grinned sheepishly and said, “For better or worse, you’ve ended up with an obstetrician who is not likely to fuss about your weight.” He and his nurses whimsically alternated between”Snoopy” “Scooby Doo” and “Winnie the Pooh” days in which his ties and their smocks all matched. His office had a monstrously big aquarium which always enchanted our children.
Once, some Amish friends of ours (who typically have childbirth at home) ran into some serious complications and had to go to Jones Memorial to have the baby delivered (safely) by Dr. Miller. Knowing they lacked any health insurance he charged nothing for his services saying, “Just make me a quilt sometime.”
All through the years, he helped us navigate fevers, injuries, questions, concerns, immunizations and health scares. We always felt completely safe putting our kids in his capable hands. Our national health care is in crisis: high prices, HMOs, malpractice, greedy insurance and pharmaceutical companies. But in that world there are still Dr. Millers: the quintessential small-town, country doctor who genuinely put patients first. Twenty-three years have passed since our first appointment and just last night my wife and I were talking on the phone and said–as we have countless times in the past two decades–“We’ll have to call Dr. Miller and ask him about that,” not knowing he was already gone. Even as our first two kids have aged out on seeing him as their pediatrician, he still delighted in visiting with us and hearing what the whole family is up to. I cannot believe that we will never have one of those jovial appointments with him again. And yet I will be forever grateful that when my precious children entered this world, the first thing they saw was the smiling face and the merry, twinkling eyes of Dr. F. Clifton Miller. There’s surely a special place in heaven for you.