A song, a memory, a sad discovery

“I wonder what happened to Mark.”

Barb and I were having dinner, Pandora music playing over the speakers in our kitchen. “One For My Baby” started playing. It’s one of Barb’s favorite songs since Bette Midler sang it to Johny Carson on her penultimate night as host of The Tonight Show. But what we were hearing was the classic version of Frank Sinatra. And it brought back different memories to me, leading me to a sad discovery.

My memory was from the mid-1960s, sitting in my family apartment, listening to rock and roll radio on WCFL. Joel Sebastian, the morning DJ on Super ‘CFL always ended his shift turning to the airways for his compatriot Dick Williamson, while Ol’ Blue Eyes sang “one for my baby and one more for the road” background.

I never knew Joel, but I did know his son Mark. When I was a pathology resident at Evanston Hospital, Mark was one of the many dieners, hospital employees who, in addition to other duties, helped pathologists perform autopsies.

Dieners kept the morgue clean and stocked, transferred the deceased from the refrigerator to the autopsy table, and assisted with incisions and evisceration – the process of harvesting organs for examination to determine cause of death and others. morbidities. They were then responsible for cleaning up the body and preparing it for delivery to the funeral home.

A good diet is invaluable to pathologists in training, and Mark was a solid. He was a cheerful, intelligent young man with a good understanding of anatomy, taking a postgraduate sabbatical with Sebastian while he waited to go to medical school in a year or two. With sparkling eyes, he would prevent beginners from making too many beginner mistakes.

Mark also became my friend and confidant, teaching me how to boneless chicken for the surprise dinner I made for my 3rd wedding anniversary. We had a secondary activity doing autopsies in a few nearby hospitals and even had one or two double appointments, sometimes on the same day as our autopsy rounds.

After about a year, Mark moved on. I completed my residency and started my long term work as a Staff Pathologist at Holy Family Hospital. I hadn’t thought much of him until the other night, listening to Sinatra, remembering the connection with Joel Sebastian, when the thought occurred to me.

“I wonder what happened to Mark,” I say.

It didn’t take long to find out. The Google search combination of Mark and Joel Sebastian quickly brought me to all the information I was looking for. Mark had indeed become a physician, associate professor of surgery at the University of Connecticut and director of trauma at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. And no surprise to me, he was an award-winning professor of medical students and a deep doer of good deeds.

But as you might have guessed, the article I was reading was in Memorium. Mark had committed suicide in 2013 at the age of 55.

I don’t know the path that led him there. I only know the sadness that struck me when I read of his death. He was really one of the good guys.

So Mark, whenever I hear “One for My Baby”, whether it’s Sinatra, Midler, or anyone else, know that I’ll be thinking of you.


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