Editor's note: This narrative was written by Frances Wood Haas mostly in 1973.
John Bernard Wood, M. D. -
Jack was a very sick baby. [Frances was 8] He must have been allergic to milk - they knew very little about allergies those days so it was the trial and error method. I remember he cried as lot and was just skin and bones. Dad tried all kinds of formulas but Jack rejected all of them . Finally as he grew older I guess his stomach adjusted. I remember Mother saying if he hadn't been a doctor's child he would have never survived - meaning he had the best of medical advice and care.
He was a "pretty child" and all the ladies loved him from his earliest childhood. He had great soulful brown eyes and naturally curly brown hair, his features resembled Uncle John - Dad's brother - there was nothing "sissy" about him - as he grew up and enjoyed sports, especially baseball which he loved that until he died. Jack and Ben were always playing catch to Paul's dismay. Paul felt left out because he had a handicap with his eyes and had to wear glasses constantly. Father referred to Jack as "King of the kids" because he always had a bunch of boys hanging around wanting to play some kind of game. He was never as robust as Ben and when in college had frequent attacks of asthma.
He went to St. Rosalia's High School in Greenfield - Central Catholic wasn't built until Ben was ready. He used to ride his bicycle from Squirrel Hill to Greenfield twice a day because he came home for lunch. His favorite lunch was chipped beef on toast - I could never forget that because I was sure he would tire of it but he never did.
One Summer when I had gone to Conneaut Lake for two weeks with Prue, Jack came up with Charles to join us for the week-end and he had a miserable time. He had asthma the whole two days - some weed near the water-front affected him.
Jack went to Holy Cross College for two years but couldn't stand the moist climate so Dad sent him to Ann Arbor where he finished his 4 years college course, then entered Medical School. If there was ever a "born doctor" it was Jack. From his earliest days he was interested in anatomy. He was always feeling "Peppy," our dog Probing her legs, her muscles, bone structure, and it was odd because she was such an independent regal dog that she wouldn't allow anyone to touch her but there seemed to be something in those fine long fingers that she recognized and she submitted to his examination quite docilely. Even the turkey! When I would be cleaning the Christmas or Thanksgiving bird, Jack would come along and all operations would stop while he manipulated the carcass. When he interned at the Mercy, the chief of staff told Dad that Jack was the best of the interns that year, especially when it came to diagnosis. What a pity Dad had to die three months after Jack's internship ended. Dad was so proud of Jack and at last he would have an assistant in his practice - they were going to do so much together. Life is so cruel sometimes.
Jack's love life was another thing. Dad said "Jack always has to have a woman."- and he would shake his head. In the first place, women were attracted to Jack like bees to honey. He was just that type and he had a weakness for them. He was like his Uncle John in nature as well as looks - he didn't inherit Dad's good horse sense or Mother's strength of character.
There was a girl in Boston when he was at Holy Cross that he almost married. And there was a big Swedish type blond from Detroit in his early days at Ann Arbor too. She was a go-getter that he brought home to visit the family and she coerced him into buying an engagement ring. She stayed and stayed and we thought we would have her forever. Finally Dad paid for the gas and Bern, Jack and I drove her back to Detroit. We drove there, dropped her off and started right back home again. That was some trip! But we got her back and afterward the affair began to wane but she kept the ring!
Then along came Jane Welsh - she went to Ann Arbor, too - a banker's daughter from Youngstown. Well, Jack married her but in a civil ceremony. Poor Mama! That almost killed her and she wanted them to get married again in the church but it was a good thing they didn't because the marriage didn't last. Jack graduated and interned at the Mercy. There he met Honoria, a young nurse who was in training . At the end of his internship he married her. This time in the church. Whether fortunate or unfortunate, they never had children - it was sad for Honoria because she was a born mother. She loved kids. She was good to our children and they loved her. Her brother and his wife had 8 so she never lacked for young people around her but I guess it never makes up for your own.
Jack was a very possessive husband and demanded her constant attention. She had to be ready to go on trips when he needed a rest. His health was never really good; he had trouble with his bronchial tubes - always had a bad cough caught pneumonia several times - that, together with his real dedication to medicine made him a poor prospect as a father so I guess "God knows best."
It had a terrible effect on Honoria - over the years she was very unhappy and changed from a cheerful, amiable person to a very detached and frustrated woman. I like Honoria - she was the closest thing to a sister that I have ever known. She was good to Mother, giving her professional help during Mama's many illnesses. Jack and Honoria were wonderful to me too when I had my children and when I had a lump removed from my breast. When I had my veins stripped - both times - Honoria was at my side through it all. It was a marvelous feeling to have her support..
Jack gave me a wonderful sense of security too. He had access to the hospital and knew all the doctors and I never knew what it was to be just an ordinary patient - until he died.
At one point, Jack spent six months in the Mercy State Hospital - they thought he had T. B. but it turned out to be Emphysema. He had a lung operation in the Mercy. I can still hear his rasping, choking cough and his terrible breathing. At the State hospital they offered him a job on the staff and begged him to cut down on his workload but he turned it down and went back to the old grind (in Oakland). He was tireless in his occupation with his patients - his dedication kept him at the office until 2 in the A.M. He also had a dedicated nurse, Agnes Schiffler, and she worked those long hours with him. She often saw more of him than his wife. So with Jack's dedication to medicine and her sterility, Honoria's own health had began to go and her unhappiness increased.
The final terrible blow came on Dec. 16, 1962 - a Sunday morning. Jack had been called out to see a patient with a heart attack. He came home and went to the bathroom to get ready for 10 o'clock Mass. Honoria heard a thud and called to him. No answer. She tried to open the door but his body was against it. By the time somebody came, Jack was dead - maybe he died immediately - heart failure.
Freyvogle's, the funeral home people, said they never remember having such a crowd of people as came to view his body. People wept as they filed past his bier - all wailed "what will we do without him?" He was greatly loved by the sick and the suffering. I can still see those long slender hands, made for healing, now still forever.
I had the same feeling when I looked at Bern's strong capable hands -
different from Jack's - squarer, heavier but those wonderful hands could do
so many marvelous things. What a waste I thought! But I supposed both pairs
of those hands had done their jobs and it was time to rest from toil. I
remember Sister Carlotta - in charge of Obstetrics at the Mercy - saying of
hands will get him to Heaven!" I wonder what will get me to Heaven? My
heart, I hope.