One of the things I love about the middle of the last century was a certain graciousness that doesn’t seem as prevalent anymore. People born in the 1920s and 30s learned formal manners. They wore decent clothes when they went grocery shopping. They wore Sunday clothes to church. And they knew how to write a beautiful letter appropriate to the occasion.
For example, this is the letter that my parents’ long-time family doctor sent to all his patients when he decided to retire:
I have an important announcement. It is my desire and wish to be able to address each of you in a personal fashion. The sacredness of the patient-physician relationship we encountered on such a personal basis has always been a cherished one. However, I am unable to give you the following new face-to-face as desired. Please know that your care and comfort have always been my concern; indeed you and your care have been my vocation.
I will officially retire from the office practice of medicine on April 30, 2005.
It has been my empowered privilege to have rendered medical care to you. In doing this I have found and fulfilled one of the purposes in my life. Serving you has been a fusion of a mission and a calling to the practice of medicine. I humbly submit my retirement plans to you and thank you for entrusting your health and private concerns to me. I trust and pray that your future health needs be adequately take care [of] as I now entrust you to God and your future physicians.
Samuel A. Graziano, M.D.
Dr. Graziano’s death notice. Rest in peace.