Eric Gold

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Ray Fink's Eulogy

Diplomates Internal Medicine and Endocrinology , January 6, 2005

Dear Eric, I decided to type this letter to you since you always complain about my handwriting. At least I can read it, and its not as bad as Ruthie s so here it is. I must say that its a little odd to be here on a Thursday morning, at the synagogue. You are supposed to be in the Alvarado office today, not here. But since you are here its not surprising that you are in your usual spot, up front, you know how you always sit there for the High Holidays, its your space. Theres quite a crowd here today, and everyone is here for you my dear friend , your entire family both immediate and extended, so many friends from near and far, so many colleagues, your devoted office staff, all those pharmaceutical reps that you never , ever turned away, and of course your patients. Theyve all came today to honor you.
Since I havent seen you in over 2 weeks I thought Id bring you up to speed on what has been happening over the last few days. Tuesday I drove out to El Centro without you , you know that drive like the back of your hand; there was so much snow on the road, more than weve seen in years. I didnt have my weather forecaster with me- you always alerted me the night before about the upcoming forecast and road conditions. Ive never met anyone like you who was so interested in weather, but that was you, if you were interested in a subject you approached it with energy and so much enthusiasm. You even made the weather channel interesting and exciting to watch. ( Im sure that some of us here will even check it out later today).
When we arrived at the office, the whole staff was there, Vicky, JC, Hiram,, the entire crew; they have the utmost respect for you and really love you and no wonder- you reap what you sow- you treated them as equals, as unique individuals . If they had a question, any problem, they knew who to turn to you. You were never to busy or preoccupied with other things not to take the time to listen and to help and so you did ,countless times; even if others had to wait- and lets face it Eric, people did have to wait a while in El Centro.

The day was busy as usual, Karla was great, you would have been so proud of her the way she took care of your patients- you taught her well, but again no surprise. I know of few others who would take the time and effort to teach someone their craft as you did with Karla and Andrea- you were a great teacher- they saw the genuine interest you had in them and responded in kind.
During the course of the day I saw one of your patients and he asked me if I would be as good a doctor as you were. I told him I would try, but you have set a very high standard, my friend, and challenged all of us, your colleagues. You treated everyone the same regardless of the vagaries of their station in life, and would not tolerate others who acted differently. You listened to people and that’s the reason they waited for you- because you were worth waiting for. You prided yourself not so much on the mechanical nature of our job, the prescribing of the correct diabetes or thyroid medication, but on the human element of medicine , talking with the patient, laughing with them, telling a joke, but all done with a grand purpose in mind- you were the doctor truly figuring out the nuances of their problem. And of course , the great victory and excitement that you loved to share with me was when of your patients started crying , you recognized that they were depressed and you treated them and changed their lives this you did selflessly and with humility.( ok , maybe not such humility)
One of the doctor’s called me in the afternoon and in one sentence summed up what your colleagues thought of you- he said “ Eric’s presence made me feel good to work in the Valley”. That was your essence, when you were around- people and life felt good- for everyone. A patient of mine remarked that it seemed unusually quiet upfront , where you usually work- he said he could tell that you weren’t in today because he didn’t hear the usual laughing and see your smiling face- that’s his memory of you, and a very apt one indeed.. You always found the time to tell a joke, find humour in a situation and an incredible disarming quality to make everyone feel comfortable in your presence- even a stranger ; no especially a stranger.

You remember lunch in the office, or what passed for lunch- the usual Subway sandwiches, vegie for me- whatever was gooie and oozing with lots of extra dressing amd mayo for you- and of course the chocolate chip cookies- and if it was Mr. Biffs, well then life was really good. I would be at the computer , checking out the news of the day, you peering over my shoulder - with the usual opening question. Any news from Israel Your heart ached when we heard of another tragic bombing. That was just the beginning; from there it was on to all the favorite websites; dennis prager, real clear and then onto sports with the Expos , Chargers and Montreal Canadiens and not just the scores but the details, the linescores, who was playing who, what players were drafted, who was coming up in the farm system, ; you had an insatiable appetite for it all, and you enjoyed it so much you were such a kid- . and you transformed all of us into kids, because when we saw how much fun you were having , we all wanted to join in.
The day ended late, as usual, and then the long drive home, cold but no ice or snow on the road, and lots of time to think. Thats when I thought of writing this letter, just past the Golden Acorn C asino at 4,100 feet where we usually changed drivers; remember , I always did the home stretch. The drive home was when we had time to talk about , well, everything, and we usually did. You always asked about Rhona and the kids because you were interested and cared so much, and you treated them as if they were part of your family. You genuinely took interest in some of my friends even if you didnt know them that well, but if you liked them- you would tell me, and that mattered . You set very high standards for friendship and loyalty and you lived that lofty standard by example- for there were few friends as loyal and generous of spirit as you. We then would often share stories and jokes and get into our Jackie Mason mode- oh we had such fun with that. I would then ask you about Ruthie and the girls and you would tell me about your travels, and upcoming trips and your times together. You loved your family so much, and told me how uplifting it was to spend the day with Ellana doing, well, just about anything, and how excited you were about upcoming dinners with Renee at her favorite Ruth Chris restaurant. You reveled in their accomplishments but mostly in their goodness. And if it was close to Passover then you dove in the preparation for the holidays with great gusto becaused you loved the traditions and you wanted others to share in it. Yours was not the life to be lived selfishly, yours was the life to be shared by others and we were always swept away by your enthusiasm and youthful spirit.
Im pulling up to the Alvarado office now and dropping off all our El Centro stuff to give to Pat ( by the way the border patrol on 8East was closed, you remember it always is when it rains).Ill not say goodby quite yet, but rather thank you , thank you for being the best partner, the best friend, the closest to a brother that I ever had .
With much love, Ray