My daughter, Susanna, lived in Brooklyn for a few years. I always loved to visit her there. The borough, at least the part she lived in, was a string of interesting and lively neighborhoods  – great for walking, my only ‘sport’.

Another bonus of that time was getting to know an older cousin of mine.

Joanna’s mother, my lovely Aunt Nora, married a Jewish man – a very unusual choice on both sides during the 1930’s – and years later went with him to Boston, where he studied at MIT. While there, Joanna met David, married him, and never returned to Canada. She was almost completely unknown to me.

I loved getting to know their family of three. But, for reasons that will become apparent, I want to give a little background on David.

David is also from a Jewish family. He went to Harvard Medical School and then became a research physician. As a young man, he and a team of researchers went to Bangladesh to study diarrheal diseases. Their world-changing discovery – the British medical journal Lancet called it the greatest medical innovation of the twentieth century – was oral rehydration therapy.

Millions of people dying of diarrhea-induced dehydration can now have their lives saved simply by having access to a carefully formulated drink. They no longer need specialized hospital treatment unavailable in their societies.


So David has been honored in many ways.

On one of my visits he gave me a magazine showing biographical data on forty-five senior gastroenterologists (including David) being honored by their ‘mentees’.

This is what I found fascinating:

These men were from different cultural backgrounds – American, Indian, South American, Korean. As senior medical men at the time the magazine was published (2007) they had been born in the 1930’s and early 40’s. Diversity and similarity.

But guess what? Of these forty-five men – all with worldly attributes considered greatly desirable- not a single one, as far as I could tell, had been divorced. They were all with the wives of their youth. And they had mostly married while very young – probably mid-twenties was the average.

I can draw two tentative conclusions from that. One: Diligent, sustained intellectual effort is best achieved with a life underpinned by stability. Two: Early, meaningful commitment produces a character capable of focus and accomplishment.

What do you think?

In any case, it reinforces that fact that God’s plan for marriage is indeed “very good”.