Well done, my good and faithful servant

Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2018

He was born in 1908 in a small Tennessee town in the mountains. By the time he was 12, his father had passed away, and he became the big brother as well as mentor to his three siblings. However, Paul Walker always had a dream: He wanted to become a physician. 

William Fackler was born in 1920 in a small Georgia community outside of Macon. Bright, determined and ready to make a difference in the world, he left for Emory to fulfill a dream: He wanted to become a physician.

Paul Walker became a surgeon, and William Fackler became an internist and cardiologist.   

By the time we moved to LaGrange from Tennessee in 1962, my uncle Paul was the Medical Director of the United States Public Health Service.   

Dr. Fackler lived across the street from where we built our home in LaGrange. His children went to school with me, and we became friends. Long before we were neighbors, he established himself as one of the most exceptional physicians and men in LaGrange.

It was September 1963 when I became ill. I left to play basketball with the guys down my street after school and for some reason, the ball just couldn’t reach the basket. My famous long shot was woefully short.

“Mom, I can’t hit the basket!” I screamed as I walked through the door.

She immediately put her hand on my forehead.

“You have a bit of a fever. I’ll make an appointment with a doctor.”  After the visit, the diagnosis was the flu.

By Christmas the same year, I was still not well experiencing high fevers and complete energy depletion. Mom made another appointment with a new doctor and our new neighbor, Dr. Fackler.

“You are a sick girl!” He said with a slight smile, knowing that was apparent, which made me chuckle. I noticed a concerned look on his face when he found my spleen so swollen I couldn’t fasten my skirt, and it took all I could do to stand.  

“You have mononucleosis which is bordering on Hepatitis,” Dr. Fackler explained. “My guess is you have been sick for months, and now we have some hurdles to cross. You are going to need to follow my instructions exactly.” He stated sternly while looking into my eyes, so I understood he meant business. 

Afterward, Dr. Fackler became our family doctor.

Once I married, my husband and I lived in a tiny home near the hospital. One Sunday morning I awoke with a terrible headache. By late afternoon, my eyesight became blurred, and I could no longer see color.   

My husband called my dad; my dad called Dr. Fackler. A short time later the good doctor was standing at our door with his black bag in hand.  

As he sat at the foot of my bed, I witnessed the same concerned look he had exhibited many times before. When he opened his bag after a quick exam, he retrieved a horrific looking instrument I could barely see. 

“Why do you have a horse syringe?” I asked squinting.

“I carry one just for you!” He laughed. 

After the horse serum injection, he waited until I fell asleep before he left, and he explained to my husband that I was experiencing my first migraine.    

I was living in Birmingham in the early 70s when my life started to unravel. I drove home one weekend to visit mom and dad who knew I was struggling. When I walked through my parent’s door, dad proclaimed, “You have an appointment with Dr. Fackler today.”

“Dad, what can Dr. Fackler do for me? He can’t stop the crying or the heartache. Besides, it’s Saturday, and I don’t want to bother him!”  

“He is waiting for you!” my Dad insisted.

I walked into Dr. Fackler’s office with tear-stained cheeks. After a heartfelt hug, I sat across from him and again, noticed the same concerned face I had grown to love over the years. 

Gentle words, kindness, understanding and empathy exchanged between a doctor and his patient. 

He talked for as long as words were necessary to be said. He took all the time needed for me on a Saturday when he probably craved time for himself.

I wish I could have the whole page of this paper to tell all the stories, but I am just one of so many lives this good and noble man touched with his care and commitment to healing.

When Uncle Paul retired from the public health service, he was able to start a lucrative private practice anywhere in the country. Instead, Paul Walker recruited other physicians to establish a medical clinic on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia to aid the most impoverished people in America. 

Two exceptional children of God who lived very similar lives and who realized early they were born for service to heal the sick and the broken.

Two young men had a dream to become physicians. We will never know the extent of the lives they touched, but I know God kept a record. I would love to see the number.

These highly regarded gentlemen left a mark on this earth with their gift of intelligence combined with loving hearts. They not only cured the ill but held the hands of those suffering. 

I am sure Dr. William Byron Fackler and Dr. Paul Eugene Walker heard the same sentence when they each walked through heaven’s door, 

“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”