Dear Dr. Deeken,
I am so glad you accepted my invitation and am even happier that we made that lunch date happen!
I would like to apologize for taking so long to write this letter. Life just has a way of getting away from me. Before we met, I promised to limit my questions to 10. I hope I was able to keep that promise. There were just so many things I wanted to discuss.
When we sat down and I had a chance to tell you that my friends were all jealous of our lunch date, you said that you hoped, “We were not underwhelmed” by your responses. (Clearly you did not see how starstruck I was to be dining with THE Dr. Deeken.)
As always you listened, shared, taught, and inspired me.
One of the questions I asked was “What was your favorite advice for parents?”
Your sweet and smart responses of “Enjoy each and every stage of childhood, (speaking from personal experience),” “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, and “Don’t let kids dictate; You’re the parent. You’re not the friend” were true to the doctrines of appointments heard by thousands of parents and still need to be shared daily.
The fact that you have 10 children of your own is still one that awes me. The fact that you carried a panel of about 2000 patients floored me. When asked how you managed, you gave tremendous credit to your husband and said something that too many of us feel in the healthcare and educational professions, “I short-changed my family. You can’t get time back.” In learning that you often took your charts home to finish each night, after making your hospital rounds and full days of check-ups and medical emergencies, it’s no wonder you felt spread too thin. I think it’s fair to say that you did a marvelous job of tackling some tough stuff.
When I asked what it is about you that makes you so successful at being a pediatrician, your solid response of “I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing and under pressure” was something so many can agree on, but, Dr. Deeken, there is more to you than that. You have a heart and a way of communicating with children and adults that lets them know you understand and care. Thank you.
I was surprised when I asked about the toughest part of being a pediatrician and you said that there was “a constant underlying anxiety that I missed something or that there was something more.” Wow! That is a huge fear to face. Thank you for your bravery.
You also shared that as an introvert, it was tough to always be exposed to so many people and exhausting to work long hours and be pulled in different directions. Thank you for your dedication.
So many parents have lamented over your retirement, I had to ask if you had considered writing about your experiences as a pediatrician and I was excited to hear you say, “Oh, yeah.” I really do hope you will find it in your schedule and heart to write for others.
Even more exciting to me though was the idea that you would consider answering questions from parents in a website or via email. You may have more work than you care to with that venture, but it would be an awesome opportunity for you to continue to work your medical magic.
At the end of lunch, I just had to ask, “Dr. Deeken, do you understand the impact you have made on so many?”
Your smile and simple, “No.” Melted my heart.
Dr. Deeken, thank you for the services and care you have given to so many and for taking the time to have lunch with this crazy mom. I truly hope you will continue to find happiness and success in your retirement and enjoy your family and the fruits of your years of hard work.
With the greatest of gratitude,
Melanie A. Peters
P.S. I was over-the-moon excited when I got to meet your handsome, hard-working husband. That was almost better than if you had taken up my offer to have dessert if you called the waiter goofy poof.