A lesson while dying

The dying young men of Johnson City, Tenn., taught Abraham Verghese, M.D., something about the meaning of life. A professor of medicine at Texas Tech University in El Paso and a contributor to The New Yorker, Verghese is the author of the award-winning My Own Country, his account of treating men who returned from large cities to their Tennessee homes after contracting HIV. Speaking at medical grand rounds in November, Verghese said that as his patients faced death, they told him that wealth, power and appearance mattered little. “Instead, they found that meaning consistently resided in the successful relationships that they had negotiated over a lifetime, particularly with parents.”