Saturday, March 10, 2012

Closing Time

A good character is the best tombstone.  Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.  Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.  ~Charles H. Spurgeon

This past weekend I returned to Ramona Chiropractic, which was the company my dad worked for many years and would become the owner later down the road. People tend to say a lot of negatives about Ramona and if you are from Ramona you would probably agree with a lot of them. However, those people who have lived in Ramona know that underneath all the trash talking and negatives, lies numerous caring individuals who represent the heart of Ramona. The quote "Don't judge a book by it's cover", is probably one of the best sayings to represent the town I grew up in.

I moved to Ramona when I was two years old and luckily I was too young to realize where I was headed. But, twenty one years later I am able to say that I couldn't see myself growing up anywhere else. My dad felt the same way, he saw so much love and compassion in a small place with people searching for someone to heal their pains. They were in need of a caring individual to take the time to listen to them and figure out ways of helping them live pain free. Immediately my dad began to touch the lives of the people around him. He built friendships with all different types of people and would spend countless hours helping one patient after another. At the end of the day he was exhausted but he was so amazed at the people he would come in contact with throughout his day. His office was small but his employees viewed the town of Ramona the same way. As a collective group they all agreed that caring for people was the most important aspect of Ramona Chiropractic. Each person brought a different piece to the puzzle, and together a sense of compassion and understanding were felt by anyone who walked through the door.

I always knew that at the end of the day my dad would walk through the door with at least one story to tell about his day. He loved talking about the ways in which patients touched his life. I can't even begin to tell you the amount of people that touched his heart. He truly loved the people of Ramona. His patients were his family and they brought happiness into his life. He would have this amazing smile on his face each time he would tell a story about a life he had changed by limiting the pain they felt. He was so passionate about helping people feel better, but he was also just passionate about people in general. It didn't matter what their background was or where you were headed, he loved each person for what they had to offer at that moment in time. Patients knew that there appointment time would rarely be on time because my dad loved to talk. For those of you who knew him, he could talk about anything and everything. Not only that but he was always right and thought he knew it all. Being his daughter, however, I could never accept that he knew it all. His staff would realize that a timer outside the door was the only way they could somewhat limit how much time he spent talking. But, he would usually just ignore the timer and continue talking. Patients appreciated his bedside manner and took advantage of his ability to talk them through problems in their lives. I can only imagine the stories, problems, and daily issues he had to listen to, but he wouldn't have changed that for anything. At times it was a part of his job that was incredibly draining but he was more then willing to spend time listening. He would walk through that door and put his issues behind him knowing that those he cared about were so much more important.

One of the most amazing things about my father was his ability to accept every person for who they were. He never judged anyone and he rarely talked negative about anyone. Sure, there was always tough cases of individuals that were a little harder to work with but over the years I could probably count on my hands the number of people that he viewed as difficult to deal with. He took challenges well and he saw those tough cases as just another challenge. He studied constantly and would search for hours on ways to help those people. His ultimate goal was to make people better. Whether you were his best friend, family, a first time visitor, or a USC fan :), you were still treated the same when you walked through that door. Now if you were a USC fan you probably didn't hear the end of it but you were still taken care of.

As a child I remember the days I spent in his office watching him work, wearing his white doctor coats, playing with medical equipment and just wanting to be like my dad. I thought wearing the jacket was on of the coolest things ever because it made me feel a little more like my dad. As time went on I began seeing his office in a different way. I could finally see the healing that was taking place and the lives that were being touched in so many different ways. Without knowing someone they knew me. My dad would talk about me every day. He would talk about my family every day. He would tell anyone he talked to how proud he was of my brother and I. It never mattered who I talked to because each person would tell me the same thing. By looking at me patients knew I was his daughter without ever meeting me. I was his mini me in more ways then one. If you would have asked me ten years ago if it was a compliment when people said I was just like my dad, my answer more then likely would have been no. I would respond back to his patients and say, "no I look like my mom too", they would laugh understanding I didn't want to admit I looked like my father but still knowing in their minds I was a spitting image of him. As the years went on I realized that saying there was a lot of my dad in me was more of a compliment then anything anyone could say. I can know now see that what they said to me really is more of the truth then I ever would have thought.

Wednesday March 14th will be the last day that Ramona Chiropractic will be seeing patients. The past year has been a battle trying to keep something open that was missing such a big piece. Everyone tried their best to replicate what had previously been but without Dr. Aglio it could never be what it once was. No one could take his place and the shoes that were trying to be filled were impossible to fill. There isn't one person in this world that could take his place because his personality is irreplaceable. It's a special feeling knowing the amount of lives that were touched in the years he was a chiropractor. It's also amazing to think about the amount of people who touched his life. My only hope is that through the closing of the office each person that crossed paths with my father knows that they may have touched his life more then he touched theirs. Each person brought a different amount of happiness to his day and he thought the world of each of his patients. I loved hearing him talk about his day. I loved walking into the office and having everyone laugh because of how late he was into another room. One of the funniest things was hearing him talk of his Cox table as the "Magic Bus", telling patients they were in for a ride, and later learning it in spanish calling it "El Bus Magico". He wasn't the best at speaking spanish so he immediately got a laugh out of people. As you walked down the halls you could hear the talk of sports, politics, vacations, family's, school, and health being spoken of one person after another. I am telling ya, that man could talk about ANYTHING!

As the final day of Ramona Chiropractic gets closer, I continue to search for ways to get through this. I again feel like I am losing something. I am losing such a huge piece of my father and I am struggling with what I am supposed to feel right now. The one thing I hope is that one day I will be known as Dr. Aglio, and that if for just once my ears can hear that being said, I will know that my journey has just begun. I will be reminded of my father and know that my life will also consist of caring for others. It is for that reason, I will continue to strive to be my best because my hope is that I too can touch the lives of people around me and show a little more love in this world. My dad has taught me more in life then some people ever learn but what he has taught me is worth nothing if I can't put it into action. Everyone was right when they said that I have a lot of my dad in me. The truth is my father and I are close to having identical personalities. Of course, we have our differences but as long as I am alive my father lives on through my spirit for living a life of service to others. As I read through his books and choose what I want to keep I am amazed at the life he lived. Of course he was an amazing dad but sometimes I forget that he was an amazing doctor. He had so much knowledge. I can only hope that I have a similar amount of knowledge one day and that patients will speak of me as they spoke of my dad.  I would love to be able to make my father proud by touching the lives of people who are in need of someone to just show they care. 

With that being said, I would like to end this with a simple thank you to those who were apart of Ramona Chiropractic. My dad may have created a setting but the patients chose the color that shined and helped paint the final picture. I just hope everyone knows how much he cared for you and how much you were appreciated. Remember the good times, the laughing, and the constant smiles knowing that he is still talking and laughing with you all in heaven. I sincerely thank you for touching my dads heart and being apart of such a truly inspirational life. Dr. A will live on in each of your hearts forever.

I will leave you with this...
"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart" 
Gob Bless,

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