In our graduate student housing was a young Central American woman, who through an improbable set of circumstances, had married a wealthy and sophisticated European. As she explained to me, she herself had come from a poor background. When her son developed an ear ache, I drove her to our pediatrician, a professor in the Medical School. He prescribed an antibiotic. The next day I noticed that the little boy had a clove of garlic on a string around his neck. His mother said, sheepishly, that she didn’t want to take any chances. I knew how she felt because I myself did then -- and still do -- practice what most people would regard as superstitions when it comes to the welfare of my children.
Not long ago I read that you never really feel at home in a foreign land until you trust the doctors. One January night four months after we arrived in New Brunswick, I felt contractions with my third child. It was snowing, and so even though we were less than a mile from the hospital, to be on the safe side Bill drove me to the hospital. After the obstetrician had examined me, the nurse told me not to worry about the storm because the doctor was going to sleep at the hospital. I had been in this foreign country for only four months, but at that moment I felt I had come home.