Paul

February 7, 2011

My brother Paul died two months ago after many years of suffering.  I am the eldest of the eight McGee siblings and Paul was second.  He was a wonderfully respected and well loved geriatric physician in Sussex County New Jersey where he served for some 40 years.

To me he was much more than that physician; he was my brother whom I loved deeply.  My earliest memories of Paul are of him studying….studying anything and everything in the living room of our little house on Ege Avenue in Jersey City.  One of his pleasures as a young boy was reading the Encyclopedia Americana that our parents struggled to buy so that we might have reference materials available when we needed them.  Paul was the first person I knew who memorized all of the state capitals; he knew every New York Yankee stat there was to know; he was one of those people who seemed to know everything.  His unquenchable thirst for knowledge was a good part of the reason that he won full academic scholarships at every level of his education.  Because of his determination and, gifted with innate intelligence, he never had to pay a cent toward his tuition at St. Peter’s Prep, St. Peter’s College or Cornell Medical School.

Ironically, the suffering he endured was, I believe, caused largely by inadequate medical care.  Early in his freshman year at St. Peter’s College he got sick.  He had a fever of unknown origin and began to experience swelling in his legs.  He was admitted to the hospital; the fever continued and the swelling grew worse.  He was subjected to “exploratory surgery”.  They took his appendix out and looked around and, as I remember, continued to be stumped.  Over the next few weeks his body developed “new” veins, actually visible on his abdomen, which fed his legs although poorly.  He was forced to wear very heavy support stocking from then on, around 50 years.  He did his best to help his poor circulation by riding his bike for many miles through the hills of Sussex County for years until he no longer could.  These physical problems led to him experiencing many surgeries.  He developed asthma, arthritis and was constantly plagued with phlebitis and polycystic kidneys.  He continued to practice through all of this and actually made hospital rounds in a wheel chair almost to the very end.  It must be said that he probably would have had to stop a few years ago were it not for Barbara, his wife who was his constant helper and assistant for all of the 10 years of their marriage and who apparently loved him sweetly.

For me his wake and funeral served as a sort of reintroduction.  I knew that he was a dedicated physician and I knew that he was very bright but I had no idea of the impact he had on the people he served or on the other Docs he worked with.  I heard people say time and time again at the wake that he had “saved my life” and they asked “what am I going to do now” and doctors said that he was their doctor; specialists told me that they had to be on their toes when they were referred a patient from Paul because they knew he would question their every decision.  They loved him too.

It was really nice to hear his high school friends tell stories about him which helped us all to remember what a character he was and that he had a terrific sense of humor which, I’m sure, helped him to endure the constant pain that he lived with for decades.

God speed brother and if there’s a paradise maybe you, Susan, Mom and Dad can make room for the rest of us. 
 

Posted February 7, 2011

2 Comments

Phil:
That is a truly beautiful tribute — so generous, so warm, so “true” (of course it is; this is your “truth site” after all.)
Thanks for bringing back great memories of Paul for me.
And condolences and warmest wishes to you and the rest of your clan.

The world is much better because McGees are in it!
And the afterworld is clearly better for having your parents, Paul and Susan there.
Hugs,
Kathleen (Kathy) Norton-Schock

Phil,

It’s nice to see such a heartfelt testimonial from a family member.

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