flowers and findings

June 12, 2008

The sun is setting on my first full day of research at a special children’s literature collection. Thanks to a research grant, I was able to travel out here for a week to complete my project and then to present my findings for a university committee. It is solitary work and so inherently rather lonely–but I cannot complain. Especially when these wildflowers greet me from outside the window of my rustic room :-)
My day’s work ended with a delightful discovery: while reading through “fanmail” that well known authors have received over the years, I came upon one that made me pause with curiosity. In 1958 a young adolescent wrote that she had been inspired by this particular author’s visit to her school. Apparently the speaker told of how her stories were in large part inspired by her real-life experiences, both actual and those she read about in books. So this child wrote that she wanted to become a doctor when she grew up. And since hearing the author’s talk, she had been “keeping her ears open” each time she had a doctor’s visit: even going early so as to learn more. In addition, she was asking her mother for books about doctors and about the medical profession, which she had been avidly reading.
When I pondered this letter, I could not help but ask myself, So did she become a doctor? If so, that is quite a tribute to the influence we can have on others–especially on children–as we go about our own daily work . . .
So I did a bit of internet searching, and, lo and behold, I came across the child’s exact name, listed as an “infectious disease physician,” prominent, and published, in her field. I also found an email address. So what do you think I did? Why, of course, I sent her an email, quoting the letter I had found, and asking if she was that same scribe of a child. We shall see what I find out . . . ;-)

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