Jack & The Romans

It was the summer before I was to begin medical school. In the very weeks before classes were to start, the banks stopped making school loans. 


Suddenly, my dreams of becoming a physician were being threatened.  The medical school’s position was no tuition, no matriculation. They had hundreds of applicants eagerly wanting to take my place who could pay the tuition.

I had joined the Masonic Lodge my senior year in college, in the tradition of my father and grandfather.  This was way before cell phones and the internet. I was hundreds of miles from my family. For some reason I stopped at the Scottish Rite Temple just to get advice from a “brother.”  The lodge’s executive secretary listened patiently as I explained what I was faced with and how I was approaching the problem.  He asked me how much money I needed and I told him that with working (frowned upon in medical school), I could probably get by with $1500 for the first semester. 


He said they didn’t make loans and could I come back after lunch as he would see what he could do. After lunch, he said, “This is the best I can do,” as he pushed an envelope across the desk toward me.  Inside was a check for $10,000!  I was dumbfounded and tearful.  I asked him what papers did I need to sign. He replied that there weren’t any, that I should pay the debt when I could. 


It was the first debt I repaid after I graduated.  I never knew if it was from him or the lodge.


Years later, I took care for a very sick woman we were able to rescue. Talking quietly before she went to her room, I asked her if she knew Jack F. because they shared the same surname.  I told her how I knew Jack.  She teared up and said he had been her son who had died several years before.


More often than not, the reasons for the events in our lives are not very clear.  In the case of Jack’s mother, it certainly was.

Richard E. Draper, a double board-certified emergency medicine physician, blogger, and speaker, and practices in the Kaleidoscope Weekly distribution area. The Healer’s Heart is based on his perceptions and observations of his experiences in the ER over his career. Any similarities to actual patients are purely coincidental.

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