My Journey

Madison, Conn., early 1970s, while I was in medical school

Madison, Conn., early 1970s, while I was in medical school

Time is said to move faster as we age. At least our perception of it. People who study such things relate this to a diminishing pool of new experiences and things to learn in life. In our youth, such activities fully engage our consciousness and slow our internal clock, so time seems to march slower. I guess the implication of that is that our lives become more homogeneous–dare I say boring–as we get older. That’s what the psychologists say.

I cannot be happier than to say that I feel I’m the exception to the rule. I have experienced and learned more in the past decade than at any other time in my life. And these have been the important things–things that have nourished my soul and taught me about wonder and beauty and friendships and love. As it should be, most of these lessons have been gloriously enlightening, but also some painful beyond measure. Regardless, I’ve come to see each as an important part of the true quest: a full life is not one that simply seeks experiences, or even knowledge, but one that seeks understanding, and that comes in all flavors.

In these pages, I’d like to share my journey with you. As these things go, more emphasis will be found on my recent life, not because of failed memory of distant happenings, but because of a preponderance of meaningful content that exists closer to the present. As intermediaries, I’ve chosen the two modalities with which I have the most comfort–the written word and the still photograph, which I have woven into what I hope to be a reasonably presentable tapestry depicting a life. But like all tapestries, this one has a smooth presentation side and a rough knotted side. While the latter cannot be dismissed, the truest representation overwhelmingly emphasizes the former. I have lived a wonderful life.

19 Responses to My Journey

  1. Arlene says:

    I am without sufficient language to express how blessed I feel to have shared even the briefest second of your precious time on this Earth. What a gift I was given in April 2013, on that flight to West Palm. Thank you Jeff.

  2. Jenny says:

    Aha I have found it! It is beautiful, a lovely site and a wonderful way to revisit you whenever you pop into mind, which will be often. Lots of love, your new old friend,


  3. Deb says:

    Love to read your words…They are beautiful and moving! Words touch lives….and change lives!

    • Livia says:

      Thanks for any other informative web site. Where else may I get that kind of information written in such a perfect method? I have a venture that I’m simply now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such intofmarion.

  4. Ron says:

    On the evening of Jeff passing away I reread several of his articles Jeff wrote.
    I found them soothing and healing of reflecting on Jeff’s umderstanding of being a servant and deciple of god. He truly lived his life serving others in his vocation and daily life.
    On one occation we were out to eat and a elderly gentleman was choking on his food.
    Jeff fighting cancer treatments jumped up before I could and performed the Hymlick procedure to save his life. He returned to the older couples table three times to reassure and comfort them.
    I also had the joy of celebrating An outside Easter service several years ago. The congregation was inner city based and songs sung of amazing grace accompanied by a sax player. We let go balloons that day and watched together rise until out of sight.
    Jeff said he enjoyed this congrigation and the deversity / humble stature. See that’s what life was about- he always made you feel important and he loved so generously no matter who you were.
    I truly will miss my brother Inlaw and my brother Jeff. I looked up to him as how I should live my life. He was remarkable on his serving of others even when you knew he did not feel well.
    I felt blessed when he said he loved me and I told him I loved him. You lived a an examples of a true Christian. I will remember your acts of kindness and love of life.

  5. Pamela White says:

    Unfortunately I never met Jeff but his powerful words give me great comfort and I thank him. My sympathy and prayers are with his family, what a treasure he was, Pam

  6. Toby Stallbaumer says:

    I believe I owe my life in large part to the surgical expertise of Dr. Jeffrey Piehler. He was a very kind, soft spoken person, who was able to help allay fears when it came to his patients. He will be sorely missed by so many.

  7. Joe I Miller Jr says:

    To All and Jeff’s wife and family:
    I had the priviledge of knowing Jeff for about 40 years both as we were residents at Mayo and after he returned to Kansas.
    We were both in academic medicine doing what we loved-thoracic surgery. We saw each other frequently at the General Thoracic Surgical Club in years gone by.
    He was a great doctor, a wonderful friend, and more than anything a great Christian.
    My life is better from having known Jeff.

  8. Terry Hourigan says:

    Dear Jean,

    I would like to send you a couple of things that I wanted to send to him.

    Somehow I believed that he would outlive me, despite common sense.

    His NPR interview and the part of it “staggering grace in strangers” put into words something that I have felt ever since getting my diagnosis – and wasn’t able to say.

    If it’s okay for me to send you something, please reply to my email so I’ll have an address for you.

    I wish I could have known him.


  9. As a visiting Medical stuedent when Jeff was finishing his CT training at Mayo, I met Jean and found Jeff a most clever and enthusiastic cardiothoracic surgeon. Jeff’s strengths as a teacher and a friend steered my career and enriched my life. The world is a better place from Jeff’s time among us.

  10. Jeff Pidot says:

    An Andover classmate, Rusty Bennett, sent me the link to this website. I superficially knew Jeff Piehler as a teenager, long ago, as we were assigned for four years to sit next to each other at chapel and assemblies, our last names adjoining each other in the alphabet. (It was the way Andover kept track of attendance). I remember Jeff as a quiet and thoughtful person during a restless period of my life. I did not keep up with him after our graduation in 1965.

    I read the article a year ago in the New York Times that he had written about building the coffin. While it was a deeply touching piece embedded in my memory, at the time I failed to detect that it was written by that kid I sat next to for all those years. All that I can say now, having poured over his writings and photographs posted here, is that 50 years after our graduation (yes, standing next to each other at that ceremony as well), I am glad to have come to know him at last. What a gift he has left. Thank you, Jeff.

    Jeff Pidot
    Brunswick Maine

  11. Jean Piehler says:

    Happy Bithday Dearest. You are, and will always be, the love of my life. I miss you terribly but take comfort in knowing your suffering has ended. Jean

  12. Arlene says:

    A year later and it all seems so surreal that I had the opportunity to learn from Jeff,s journey. My heart goes out to his family today as this anniversary is surely one of deep sadness. I miss so greatly his emails so full of wisdom.

  13. Tommy Joe says:

    Always great to revisit Jeff’s words! They still resonate as strongly today as the first time you go through them, when you read his words his brilliance and inner beauty shines through.

  14. Richard Johnson says:

    Together with two others in our year, I completed with Jeff a surgical residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. I only recently became aware of Jeff’s death. What an inspiration to read his thoughts, view his photography, and become once again acquainted with him. Jeff’s life has been a wonderful blessing to so many, and I count it a privilege to have known him for those few years.

  15. Jack Xie says:

    I have watched the PBS documentary “INTO THE NIGHT: PORTRAITS OF LIFE AND DEATH”. Your wisdom in it taught me a lot of things. As I have learned that you have died in the documentary, I am sure you are in a good and happy place now.

  16. Max P. says:

    We need more Jeff Pielers in the world ! More importantly everyone could benefit from emulating this life ; one i think exemplified by those cherished virtues held , practice so sincerely & dearly by this man.

    After seeing Dr. Jeff’s story on PBS subsequently perusing this website ; I’ve been moved literally to tears by the courage grace and faith of a man who I’ve never had any interactions with , yet almost feel profoundly sad that I never had that opportunity.

    May God Bless , keep this man’s family and friends near & dear so they may continue to inspire others by the story of this man’s life .

  17. Arlene in NY says:

    Remembering you Jeff!
    Can’t look up at a star-lit sky and not think of you.
    Wishing your family peace today on the 6th anniversary.

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