Even though, officially, I was interviewing him for the job of WebMD's expert pediatrician, as a parent I couldn't help but ask him questions (yes, I admit they were about my own kids -- even though I pretended they weren't. He knew.) And in those moments when he could sense my anxiety about my own parenting struggles, I could see how our WebMD community would fall in love with "Dr. P."
Steven Jerome Parker, MD, answered all my questions that day and went on to answer those of thousands of WebMD parents for the next nine years. He was a rock star in the medical community, authoring a textbook for pediatricians and co-authoring, with Dr. Benjamin Spock, the 1998 edition of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. He directed the division of behavioral and developmental pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, was an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, and also ran a holistic pediatric primary care clinic for children with chronic medical and developmental problems.
When I sat with him every couple of months, I wanted him to talk forever. He was so knowledgeable, yet made everything so simple. He had this way of making me feel good about the things I did -- instead of focusing on the things I had not done. I came to expect the uplifting feeling he would give me each time we met: a bit of wisdom, a bit of practical advice, some new scientific information, and always a touch of humor. What none of us expected, however, was his funeral this past month. I know that "cancer happens," but I can still curse its existence.
I would have loved to introduce Dr. Parker to the three stars of this Mother's Day-themed issue: Musician Sheryl Crow, who in one year's time went from cancelling a wedding and fighting stage 1 breast cancer to changing her newly adopted son Wyatt's nappies and singing him lullabies. Chanteuse Diana Krall, who with her husband Elvis Costello, James Taylor, Elton John, and Sarah McLachlan, raises her voice in honor of her mom and to raise funds for leukemia. And TV host Nancy O'Dell, who has written a new book, Full of Life: Mom-to-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant.
As I read their three stories, I lingered over the parts that I know would have made Dr. P chuckle. "See, that's the right way to look at it, Nan," he would have said.
This issue is dedicated you, Dr. P.
And for all the rest of you, here are some Dr. P-esque bits of advice: Enjoy today. Take pride in what you do. Get a great night's sleep! And we'll see you at www.WebMD.com, your trusted source for healthy living and help in health.
Yours in well-being,
Nan-Kirsten Forte, MS
Editor in Chief, WebMD the Magazine