Practicing from the Heart in the age of Technology - All articles and poems are by Reza Ghadimi, unless otherwise noted.
Our nation lost a great patriot and statesman last week. Bill Richardson was the diplomat’s diplomat. He was at ease talking to the great leaders of the world as he was to anyone in the street.
I met Bill Richardson when he was first running for the US Congress in the early 1980s. I was working the ER at our hospital in Taos, NM, when he and one other person, arrived there.
I was caring for a young patient when one of the ER nurses informed me that a congressman was there to meet us. When I was done, I went to see this congressman and found that he was running for office and as yet not one of our representatives. I was a bit confused whether he was running for state legislature or national. He laughed heartily and said that he wanted to be our congressman in Washington, if we let him.
“It’s not up to me,” I said, “but I wish you luck.”
“But it is up to you and all New Mexicans. You have to vote for me.” And then whispered in my ear, “and we could use some gas money to get back to Santa Fe.”
He then briefly talked about his plans and what he would like to do for New Mexico and asked about our concerns for healthcare. He listened carefully without interrupting – that was refreshing. We talked some more and passed the hat around for donations. The ambulance arrived with patients. As we got busy with our work, he left and the busy rest of the night made me forget his visit.
In 1982 he was elected to The US Congress. Out of whim, I sent him a card and congratulate him on his election. I was very surprised to receive a letter soon after. In it he said that he remembered me and that I worked at Taos Hospital and bought gas for his car. The rest of the letter was the usual politician’s promises. But that first paragraph, well, I still remember it.
Over the next years, his political career bloomed. I saw him briefly at a couple of town hall and campaign meetings and every time, was surprised that he remembered me. In 2002, he was elected governor of NM.
As a member of the Physician Assistant community, we had been fighting for better recognition in NM and succeeded to have the previous legislature pass a resolution to appoint a PA to the NM Medical Board. The position was vacant when Richardson took office.
I had just gone to bed late in the evening, one night in the Fall of 2003, when my wife came to our bedroom and said; “I think the Governor is on the phone for you.”
It was past ten PM and I thought that it was a crank call, but I answered. It was him and wanted to know – in jest - why I was in bed so early and then asked if I would serve on the Medical Board? And so it was that I got appointed the first PA to serve on the NM Medical Board. A post I held for seven years.
Bill Richardson was a diplomat’s diplomat. He was at ease talking to the leaders of the world as he was to anybody in the street. He was a good friend to anyone who knew him, including me. I’ll miss him, our nation will miss him, and this world will miss him. Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for everything you’ve done for us all.