Recently I’ve attended our fiftieth anniversary of graduation from Warsaw Medical University. Fifty years! Fifty years? At that time I never thought I’ll live that long.
Fifty years ago we all gathered in the same city, received navy-blue booklets with our pictures in them, and then dispersed all over the world. After life-long careers, we all––well, most of us––came back to the same place to receive our new awards. This time the booklet was red and a little bigger. There were speeches, handshakes, and surprises. I remember thinking ‘God, how old did they look!’. But then I realized all these people look at me and likely get the same impression.
We had changed. Our biggest achievement was just to show up. Some came with wives, some with children, some with canes, some in wheelchairs. One friend of mine was running down the steps to receive his diploma.
But the one thing had struck me. Despite years passed, despite changes in our physical appearance, there was always something left. The voice, smile, little mannerisms, way of walking. Something was left from the old times. Often I couldn’t recognize the person on the first look, but I did when she or he spoke.
In my medical school, I’ve learned, that every seven years entire set of atoms in a given human body is exchanged for a new one. We were on our eighth set.