In today's Chicago Tribune there is a great article about 74-year-old twins Julie and Jennie Papilli who have been swimming in Lake Michigan since they were 12. They are, apparently, legendary among those who frequent the lake. As Mary Schmich writes, "They swim a mile south to Oak Street and return, side by side, always with a backstroke. Even in the cold months, they never wear wet suits" (Metro, pg. 1). There is something comforting about this story, though somewhat eerie about two women who have lived their lives so completely intertwined.
Dr. Michael DeBakey died Friday, July 11 at the age of 99. He was best known for his work in coronary artery surgery. I mean no disrespect to Dr. DeBakey and the work he did. No doubt thousands of people are alive because of his inventions, his research, his surgery. But I stumbled a little bit when I read that many considered him the "greatest surgeon ever."
I must confess that my thoughts stumbled a bit when I read the recent Sports Illustrated cover proclaimed that the Nadal-Federer Wimbledon finals match was the "best ever." It was impressive. It sent John McEnroe into fits of verbal excess. I think anyone who knows even a little about tennis was wowed by that match. And SI reported the match got the best ratings since 2000. Was it the best match ever? I don't know. I won't know. Maybe "ever so far," but "ever until the end of time"?
So though Dr. DeBakey was an incredible physician who made huge strides in medical research on many levels, was he the best "ever"? Does that mean that no one can ever again do for medicine what Dr. DeBakey has done? And though Tiger Woods plays incredible golf, he has been beaten. And yes, Tiger came back to beat Rocco Mediate and did so with a bum knee which means had he been 100% Rocco might not have gotten any of that attention or spotlight. So is Tiger the best golfer "ever"? Does that mean that no other golfer, male or female at any time in the future will be able to best what Tiger has done on courses around the world?
Maybe. Maybe they are the best "ever," but maybe they are only the best ever so far. That gives us more wonder to look forward to.