Trust isn’t something I spend time thinking about. It seems to happen over time, it can be lost quickly, or sometimes, maybe never gained at all.
I have gone to an eye doctor for most of my life. It started when I was a freshman in high school. I played football my freshman year, and toward the end of the season I realized I couldn’t fully read the scoreboard.
My parents took me to Dr. Robert Thompson, a second-generation optometrist in Saginaw, Michigan where I grew up. Dr. Thompson said I was near sighted and ordered my first pair of glasses. That began what has been a very long journey with Dr. Thompson. A lot has changed over the years but one constant has been my trips to Saginaw once, if not twice, a year or more to see Dr. Thompson for my eye care.
I have a unique eye condition called Keratoconus. Dr. Thompson actually identified it over 25 years ago. He said someday this would be an issue and I would need to have surgery, but he was confident that in the meantime we could handle it with contact lenses. He also tracked other issues with my eyes throughout the years, and I came to trust Dr. Thompson completely. So much so that the trips back to Michigan just to see him were never an issue.
Last month Dr. Thompson retired after 46 years serving patients. His father, an eye doctor before him, had bought the practice, which had been serving patients in Saginaw since 1900, and passed it along to him. Dr. Thompson was the last of the doctors in that line.
I found out Dr. Thompson was retiring when I called to make an appointment for later this fall. The nurse said the doctor wanted to talk with me. I wondered what was up, and when he came on the phone he told me he was retiring and asked if I could come in sooner than I had planned. The sale of their building and the practice had all come together faster than he had thought and it would be good to have one final examination.
So I made arrangements to travel to Michigan the end of September. Knowing it would be our last visit I came prepared with lots of questions, questions I had never considered my entire life because I trusted Dr. Thompson with my vision and knew he always had my best interest in mind.
During the appointment we talked about his family and my family as we often had done. We discussed his cottage, my travels, and his plans to spend the winter in Florida. At one point I got ready to ask a question and I realized I’d never asked this question before about my eyes. It was a rather serious question and as I was getting ready to ask it I said, “I've never thought about this before, I've never had to ask this question my entire life because I have trusted you with my eyes.” We both teared up and paused, quiet.
In that moment I understood the depth of trust. I understood why it was important for explorers to have people around them that they can trust and that speak truth to them. I trust Dr. Thompson and I have for many years.
At the end of my appointment, much to my surprise, he told me I was his last official appointment, and that after 46 years of practice there were no more on the schedule, and with my appointment in a sense the office was closed.
The next day I got a call on my cell from Dr. Thompson. He said, “Dwight, I was thinking after you left. Do you want another set of contact lenses?” He went on to say that that would give him more peace of mind. He wanted to have peace of mind before he sent me on to someone else.
Explorers don’t just find what’s new, and they don’t always take people to new places, but when explorers are trusted they are acting as moral agents that others can believe in.
I am grateful for the Dr. Thompson’s in my life. People I can fully trust, never having to ask some questions because I know they are asking them for me with my best interests in mind.
Who are the Dr. Thompson's in your life? And what are the questions that you have never had to ask because someone that you trust is asking and answering them for you?