He was a big, burly man with a gruff voice and a temperament to match. His abdomen was a sprawling landscape of scars. And he was sick—seriously so— and needed to spend a little time with me in a cold room with hot lights. As is often the case, his surgery and recovery were complicated by chronic anticoagulation, a history of thromboembolism, a little heart disease, and a few other things that in the end caused me more worry than actual problems. Him? He was never worried, never complained, and treated the whole episode as a mere annoyance.
When he was at the point where discharge from the hospital was little more than a mild consideration percolating around my frontal lobes, I talked with him about perhaps staying for one more day to be sure he was ready to go home. I laid out my reasons—he had just started having good bowel function, his protime wasn't therapeutic, he had enough medical problems to make me a bit nervous, etc. He listened, patiently, and then simply stated "I would really like to go home today. Today is March 4th, and it's my anniversary."