A Corned Beef Sandwich and A Prayer for a Dying Woman

Louis Profeta, MD wisdom: Worry about your kid when it's time to worry... otherwise enjoy the ride. A story.

(author’s note….I wrote this tidbit some years back about my now grown son who survived cancer, graduated from college and is forging a very successful career.)



I got this teenager, who ain’t the most driven kid in the world.


A little on the thick side, always has a smile, tons of friends, a solid “C” student (we can’t all be Einstein).

I used to worry about him, where he is headed, the economy, etc.

He stops by the ER the other day to bring me a corned beef sandwich and a hug.


A Corned Beef Sandwich and A Prayer for a Dying Woman
The kid, exhibit A.


We are getting smoked with patients as usual.  The chaplain is walking through the ER and asks me if I know this family in room 38.

I know everyone, especially all the Jews on the Northside of the city (it’s a tribe thing).


“Yeah…I saw the name.  I take it she’s dying?” 94 year old code “c” (no cpr for the layperson) from a nursing home in full blown septic shock, the family had just arrived.  I know them from the community but not really that well.

The chaplain puts his arm around me and asks,

“You know any Jewish prayers to say?”

“Well sure I know them, but my Hebrew sucks.”  I chew a hunk of rye and swig my Pepsi.

“Father, I read Hebrew like a drunk Irish soccer fan.  But… (I pause for a second motioning to my son clad in shorts, a Yankee hat and sporting a shirt that says “I Love Boobies.”)…Max here reads it perfect.”

Without a second thought Max looks at the chaplain and says,

“Sure, I’ll do it.”

So we toss a scrub top over the “boobie” shirt and max prints out the Mishaberach prayer for the sick.


The shirt. From "A Corned Beef Sandwich and A Prayer for a Dying Woman."
The shirt, exhibit B.


He gets the Hebrew name of the patient and the patient’s family and in perfect Hebrew my 17 year old proceeds to lead the family in prayer at the bedside of this dying woman.  Even the chaplain was crying.

I’m not worried about him anymore.


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