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from Darryl Goetz - "Listen to the Families"

Wayne, (From Darryl)

It certainly seemed like “love at first sight?…in the spring of 1986 we came together that first day in a coffee shop in downtown Mpls to talk about the FsoS department and discuss what it is like being a doctoral student. I was thinking of applying to the program that you were in.

Instead, we talked for 3 hours about the families we were both working with, that were living with chronic conditions – you with Alzheimers families running a project for Pauline , and me with children with asthma/diabetes, and it was as if we had always been together! We were talking the same language! We asked – “How do the families live with their situation? How do they survive? How do they make meaning? What keeps them going in the face of such adversity?? “HEALING! That is what it is!? we said together! They engage in a type of self-healing that most caregivers in the traditional medical care system do not talk about, nor understand when it comes to “chronic conditions!?. And over the next 20 years we spent hours upon hours talking and writing about a concept that we eventually came to call “Systemic Healing?. It embodies that notion that physical healing is just one part of health and well-being – and that families that adapt well to living with chronic conditions are engaged in healing in a truly systemic manner on many levels. This we learned from the families!! The families are always the teachers!

For the first 7 years we met almost every Thursday, at least for four hours, very often for 8 hours. It was truly like a religion to us – the time was sacred and very little was allowed to intrude upon our weekly allocation of brainstorming! We started at 9am (at least I was there at 9 – you usually got there by 9:30! “I am not an early morning person? you would always tell me!! ) We sat at a small table in the corner at Pam Sherman’s restaurant in Uptown, and filled our brown bound notebooks with pages of our passionate thinking about families with chronic conditions that were engaged with the traditional health care system and how they found little to help them live with their situation, and lots to be frustrated with. We both believed that we needed to “listen? to the families – and they would guide us! It became our mantra – “listen to what the families are saying? – and we believed the answers to the questions we were asking about healing would be answered - it was our challenge to decipher their code – and if we could, the knowledge could be shared with countless other families. Wouldn’t that be marvellous, we thought?!

That is the key, isn’t it, Wayne?! For us it always came back to this when we were ‘stuck’ in our thinking – in research, theoretical, or clinical work – just “listen to the families?! All the knowledge must originate from them – it CANNOT come from us! We said it over and over again – if only we listen long enough and hard enough, we might begin to understand. And, so began our journey of “trying to understand?! My oh my – how I looked forward to those meetings with you – they were incredibly draining and filling – all at the same time – what an incredible feeling I had when we were together!

And the dream – of a family center – we spent hours thinking of the right name! And hours thinking of how to make it a reality – And later in our lives as our professional contexts changed – YOU MADE IT HAPPEN! IT WAS YOUR INCREDIBLE ENERGY AND SACRIFICE THAT MADE A DREAM BECOME REALITY!! I remember so vividly when you called me excitedly and said that you had obtained permission to use some rooms on Saturday mornings for work with families. You had some space, you made the time, and like in the Field of Dreams, you knew the families would come! And come they did, and out of basically nothing, you constructed the most incredible center – it truly was a miraculous creation!

I could say so much more to you, Wayne, and I am deeply saddened that I cannot be there in person to be with friends and colleagues that have known you - and take comfort from the countless others that have experienced their own “healing? by being with you. My life has been so changed, enriched and touched meaningfully by my relationship with you. You helped me think when I was stuck. You provided me comfort when my heart was aching.

I miss you terribly.
I love you.
You are in my heart forever.