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Learning from Hannah
Secrets for a Life Worth Living
by William H. Thomas, M.D.


Rochester, New York

I suppose you could say everything really began when I met Jude. After medical school, I chose geriatrics as my specialty and began my residency at the University of Rochester. CityscapeAt the time, I dreamed of becoming a professor of medicine, and I hoped to make a name for myself as an author of medical textbooks. My ambitions led me to spend most of my off-call evenings in the medical library, poring over the most recently published research I could find. It was there that I met Jude.
Jude has a warm and gentle beauty that makes people want to get close to her. I will never forget the first time I saw her. She looked up from the book she was reading, and her bright brown eyes met my gaze. She smiled at me and I felt woozy. Her dress was dark green. Her long, chestnut brown hair fell down around her shoulders, and a silver necklace glittered against the green of her dress. I went outside to calm down and think of something I could say to her without sounding stupid. When I returned, she was gone. I cursed my luck.
I shouldnít have worried, because we were meant to be together. On my next visit to the library, she was there. It was crowded that night, and I asked if I could take a seat at her table. She said yes.
I learned that she was a gerontologist and that she was close to finishing her doctoral thesis on the interactions between social institutions and the elderly. Soon we were working at the same table every night, always side by side.
It didnít take us long to realize that our mutual interests encompassed more than the study of aging and the elderly, that we shared a passion for sailing. Thus, evenings in the library led to weekends on Lake Ontario. A faculty member who was going on sabbatical asked if we would boat-sit his 25-foot ketch. He didnít have to ask twice. We sailed her hard and well that year and won a basketful of trophies. We were married in September 1986.
After Jude finished her thesis and I finished my residency, the Williamís Gerontology Center offered us research fellowships. Specifically, the center asked us to write a textbook that integrated research on the medical aspects and the social aspects of aging. Certain that professional success lay straight ahead, we accepted, packed our bags, and moved to New York City. We poured ourselves into our work.
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