The Magic of Human Connections

The Magic of Human Connections

Susan J. Baumgaertel, MD explains why we all need to connect with others–we need to share our stories–we need to be human.

I was doing laundry last week and my engagement ring snagged a shirt. Upon further inspection, one of the four prongs holding in the diamond was sticking up and about to break.

I quickly took it off and put it in a safe place, thankful it had not gone down the drain.

Soon afterwards, I had a sense of overwhelm when I realized that I was going to have to research where to get it fixed – something else to add to my busy life. I knew that I didn’t want to go to a big chain jewelry store, so I was delighted that my internet search happened upon a small shop nearby.

I called and a man with a Polish accent answered. He explained how he worked in his shop on the third floor of a large, multi-use building, and that the main door was locked so I’d have to call him to be let in.

When I arrived, he was wearing a face mask so I quickly donned mine. Climbing up the staircase I could tell he was happy to socialize. He ushered me into his workshop and I saw layers of history all around me.

At the last minute I had put my ring into a ring box alongside my late mother’s diamond ring. They looked happy together. I showed him her ring and he jumped up to carefully clean it.

And then the stories flowed.

My mother had been an artist, making jewelry at the later part of her life. He was 72, had emigrated from Poland, initially worked as a landscaper, then briefly served as a nurse aide. My daughter had seen my late mother’s ring and thought it might one day be hers. He was pulled back to Europe by friends and learned his jewelry trade from the best artisans. My daughter was serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy, far from home. He had a friendship with Dale Chihuly, a word-famous local glass artist. I had pivoted away from 25 years of clinical practice and started my own business, myMDadvocate. To celebrate, he enjoys a glass of fine cognac in a Swarovski crystal glass.

And so on.

It was as if were two friends catching up over the years. But we had only just met.



My ring would be finished in three days, so I came back to pick it up. I had been thinking about our warm conversation and brought a gift – a hand-made card and a token charm in a small box, “Lucky Little Llama.” Inside the box was the following message:

“A Lucky Little Llama to watch over you, bringing good luck and protection the whole day through. Carry her in your pocket, or sit her in your room. You’ll feel her love and happiness, and good luck will follow you.”

As I waited at the locked door, another building occupant exited and held the door open for me to enter. I stayed in the lobby, waiting for the jeweler. He was surprised to see me inside, and said I had good luck – “What will you do with your good luck today?”

I stopped on the stairs for a moment, thinking about my gift for him. I passed it to him and answered, “I am giving luck to you.”

I truly think he was in disbelief. He was near tears. With great emotion he ushered me ahead of him into his workshop (chivalry is not dead!) and we sat down together as he read the message in the box. I showed him how to take out the tiny llama figurine and hold it in his hands.

More stories.

He barely charged me. I protested, but he won that dispute.

My ring was stunningly beautiful again. I put it back on my finger to join my wedding band – in the past almost 32 years they had never been apart.

After a warm hug we parted as new friends. I now have a jeweler.

I sent him an email with a video about my journey into medicine – combining the art and science. He replied that he put the Lucky Little Llama “in great company” with his Chihuly glass collection.

The magic of human connections.

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2 Responses

  1. What a touching story- we need human connections and feel good reminders like this now more than ever!

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Sherita D. Gaskins-Tillett, MD

11/02: A Weekend For Me

A Weekend For Me is a time-out for professional women to rest, reconnect with themselves, define their priorities and vision a life that they love.

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This learning experience is powered by CMEfy - a platform that brings relevant CMEs to busy clinicians, at the right place and right time. Using short learning nudges, clinicians can reflect and unlock AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

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