December around the New Homestead

"Cow Jumping over 28 Phases of the Moon," by Robert Israel, lobby, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore

“Cow Jumping over 28 Phases of the Moon,” by Robert Israel, lobby, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore

The remaining days in December were given to the joy of family at Christmas, and getting to know the region a little better.  Took a couple of ambitious bike rides, and spent some time in libraries, including the spectacular Library of Congress (I registered as a reader on a visit in 2011).

A view from the reading room at the closest public library, Dolley Madison, two miles from home

A view from the reading room at the closest public library, Dolley Madison, two miles from home

Okay, you're not supposed to take pictures in the Library of Congress, but, hey, I'm a steadfast taxpayer . . .

Okay, you’re not supposed to take pictures in the Library of Congress, but, hey, I’m a steadfast taxpayer . . .

The day after Christmas we made a day trip to Baltimore, not for sightseeing, but to be with granddaughter Carson (and her mom) for a day of therapy at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, affiliated with and adjacent to the Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Kennedy Krieger is a world leader in helping children and young adults “with disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and musculoskeletal system to achieve their potential.”  It’s an impressive place.  Spending a day there was a reminder that when it comes to children, no one should take “normal” for granted.  Carson’s eating issues were certainly minor compared to lots of the youngsters there.

At lunchtime, we ambled through tunnels to a cafeteria, then around a relatively small part of the vast Johns Hopkins Hospital, including a brand-new showcase building filled with interesting art.  While Carson was getting afternoon treatment, I walked down the street and into the original 1889 brick building, with a stunning atrium centered on a marble statue of Jesus Christ.

Carson about to loop the loop in the new lobby of the Johns Hopkins Hospital

Carson about to loop the loop in the new lobby of the Johns Hopkins Hospital

The original hospital building

The original hospital building

Atrium, original building

Atrium, original building

Waiting for the end of the day’s treatments, I read about Mr. Johns Hopkins, a righteous man who founded both the hospital and the separate but related university.  He was keenly focused on learning and discovery because his own education ended in 1807, at age 12; his Quaker parents did the right thing and sold their slaves, forcing Johns to work on the family farm.  He moved to Baltimore at age 17 and succeeded hugely in business, as an investor in one of the first large railways, the Baltimore & Ohio.  When he died in 1873, he split his fortune between the university and the hospital (it was at the time the largest bequest in U.S. history).   How fortunate we are for philanthropists like Hopkins and those who continue the tradition of giving; for huge advancements in medical knowledge; and for experienced and compassionate caregivers.

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