On February 16, 2019, Port Alberni lost a most critical and amazing citizen (obit). A man who took care of countless others. Be they young or old, at West Coast General Hospital or at his office on 9th Avenue, Dr. Sander looked after them all in 39 years here.
When my mom brought me in for a checkup, he always checked on the cauliflowers in my ears.
When I came to him with a bone growing strangely out of my rib cage… he sent me off to get an X-Ray (COOL!) and said it would likely just grow into wherever it needs to go. He was right.
When I came to him with a wart on my finger that turned into a bunch… he expertly burned them off with liquid nitrogen. As a young child, I thought this was totally awesome, of course. (I probably would today too.)
So many times I sat on one of those tables in one of those rooms in his office. Every time, he took out a tapper and wrapped on my knee to check those reflexes…. he did it so often over the years I knew him that it became an expectation.
He had a concerned, attentive face, always intent on finding the answer, always compassionate.
The day I sat on his table and said I thought I was depressed. He never judged.
When my visits became visits by my wife, and my children, he never hesitated. He always knew their names, always asked how they were.
He helped bring my son into the world.
When it was my wife Theresa sitting on that table it was the same. Always her first, and then always checking in on me too.
He has helped her through the hardest years of her life.
I hadn’t seen him since the election in October, but he asked Tree how I was doing after the loss, because of course he did.
But it is the last time I saw him that I am most grateful for.
July 16, 2018. At forty, my first ever physical. I figured it was finally time, feeling a little mortal, being reminded of my friends and relatives of similar age with prostate cancer.
We chatted as we always did. He ordered all the tests and whatnot and did all the work. When it was done, he thanked me for coming and congratulated me on my good health. As he turned to leave I joked:
“Not bad for my first time, right? See you in 40 years!”.
He burst into a laugh. It was the first time I’d ever seen him laugh like that though you could tell it came easily.
I don’t have a picture of him except the one from his obituary. I never called him by his first name, though he always did for me. But I will always remember his face and that laugh.
Thanks Doctor Sander… see you in 40 years… or so. 🙂