In appreciation: Dr. John W. Gallup by Susie Clayton
I first met Dr. Gallup when I was 8 years old. At first he kinda scared me. It did not take long for that to go away. This gentle giant of a man made a huge impact on me.
I didn’t realize at the time, but after our Dad died, at our annual check-ups he would often talk to me about my feelings of loss, in such a way, I had no idea he was keeping my mental health also intact.
When one of my sisters was facing a serious health issue at 16, the man came out in a blizzard, wrapped her in a blanket and stayed with her all night at the hospital until he knew she would be okay.
When I was 18 and going off to college, as I sat in his waiting room, with women not much older than me holding their babies, I asked him if I should still be coming to him.
He told me I could be his patient until I started having babies.
It was also a time when he spoke to me about doing monthly breast examinations. He showed me proper procedure and encouraged me to practice it. It was 1971. He was a man ahead of his time.
Little did I know then how valuable that lesson became when I discovered a lump at the age of 32 and it turned out to be positive for cancer. My early diagnosis and treatment spared my life.
When I gave birth to our daughter Allison, when asked who her pediatrician was, for me there was no question: Dr. Gallup. He was the man!!
It was a time when the medical issue of the day was Whooping Cough vaccine. The anti vaxxers were out in force. So naturally I asked Dr. Gallup, a man I trusted with my life, what do you recommend. He looked me straight in the eyes, in that slow, deep, quiet voice, calmly told me he worked in a Whooping Cough clinic in Canada for three years … in no uncertain terms “give her the damn shot.”
Over the years I would run into Dr. Gallup, at the Ski Jumps and other events and would always make my way to him. I would joke that I personally hold him responsible for saving my life.
He would give me that smile, peering over his half glasses and tell me I have to stop telling people that. But for me it was true. He was so humble.
I learned, after he retired from private practice, he, along with his wife, took on the children of the third world; this revelation came as no surprise to me.
The last time I saw Dr. Gallup we had the loveliest of chats; he asked about our daughter, we talked about so many things, again I thanked him for my life. I will always be grateful for that moment.
I’ve come to realize, as the years went by, our relationship, that started out for me as an 8-year-old patient turned into lifelong affection and friendship.
I adored him and I thank his family for sharing him with “the children” of North Canaan.