Lessons From Dr. Gladys

By Celia Coates

If an author chooses to honor a special person or to dedicate their book to those who have supported their work, there are several ways this can be done. Sometimes it’s just by adding a set of initials after the word “For” on one of the first pages. Sometimes it’s a long list of friends and colleagues along with mention of a cherished wife or husband published on the closing pages. Under the heading Acknowledgments at the end of her just-published book THE WELL-LIVED LIFE, Dr. Gladys Taylor McGarey wrote this,
Near the end of writing this book, I had a dream.
I was at a gala where I was going to receive an award. Everyone was seated at round tables, and someone was presenting onstage. My table was near the back of the room. The person onstage introduced me and called me up to receive the award. I rose to my feet as everyone in the room turned to look at me and began to clap.

 It was at that moment that I realized I was wearing a long dress with buttons running down the back from my neck to my waist. It was also at that moment that I realized the long line of buttons was undone.

 I stood there in shock. How was I going to walk across that room with my buttons undone? I couldn’t reach them, and it would take me too long to fit each button into its buttonhole even if I could. Everyone was watching and waiting for me to step onto that stage and do what I’d come to do.

 Yet faith called me. Hope beckoned. Something deep and true, something beyond me, compelled me to begin walking anyway. So I did.

 As I stepped forward from my table, I was surprised to feel someone reaching behind me to fasten the bottom button.

 I walked a few steps farther and felt another set of fingers button the next one.

 I kept walking as the people in the room clapped for me, and each one I passed fastened another button on my dress. By the time I got to the edge of the stage, I had been buttoned from bottom to top. I was relieved and grateful. I knew I could do what I had come to the gala to do: climb the steps, say a few words, smile and accept the award I had earned.

 But as the dream showed me, I couldn’t do it alone. Perhaps none of us ever does it alone. Perhaps our greatest work is done in union, in connection with other people. At least, my life has certainly gone that way. Isn’t that wonderful?

 One by one, I offer my deepest gratitude to everyone who has fastened a button so I could complete this book. It is through them that I could present this understanding to the world. It is only with their help that this book could come to be.”

 Some authors are of the “I alone built this” frame of mind and offer no thanks to others. They seem unaware of what is central in Gladys Taylor McGarey‘s life – the knowledge that we are all connected. She used her end-of-book acknowledgments to tell a glorious, wise, and luminous story.

Dr. Gladys’ mother, Beth Siehl Taylor, and her father, John C. Taylor, were both doctors working as missionaries in India. She decided very early in her own life to also become a doctor and now, at the age of 102, is still a practicing physician. She is an extraordinary pioneer, healer, teacher, and the co-founder of the American Holistic Medical Association. This, her most recent book, is filled with practical, instructive stories from her own life of joys and struggles which have become lessons that radiate love and hope. Dr. Gladys teaches that love is the great healer – you can read more about one of her own experiences of healing and love here: www.winnpost.org/2020/03/27/love-healing-and-dr-gladys/

Dr. Gladys’ sense of fun and her full engagement with being alive mean that she has many, many friends. She has a way of paying attention to others and being generous that is simply wonderful. My grandparents knew Gladys’ parents in India when they were all working as missionaries – her parents as medical missionaries and my grandparents teaching farming and opening a leper asylum. The short story about my grandfather is that believing “Starving men don’t care about God”, he set about working with villagers to better provide for themselves. My grandmother became involved with providing asylum for people suffering with the terrible disease of leprosy that had led to their being shunned and abandoned. I first heard about Dr. Gladys at ISSSEEM conferences (Institute for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine) where she was a presenter and later had a chance to get to know her better. Years ago, she gave me a gift – it might seem to be a small gift, but it has been very important to me. I too was born in India some years after Dr. Gladys, and as a young child I was bi-lingual in English and Hindi. By the time I met her, I had forgotten most of my Hindi. She taught me that “nani” is the word that means “the mother’s mother”, a name that I happily taught my grandchildren to call me. It has been a joy to reclaim a positive from my years when India was in turmoil. (Thank you, Dr. Gladys.)

This book is also a gift. It is an emotionally brilliant book and one that is filled with deceptively simple ideas that are deeply helpful. Dr. Gladys radiates love and hope. Her teaching stories give clear lessons in how to address the troubles we, our bodies, and spirits have as we go through life. She hands us antidotes to use as we live in a fiercely individualized society and reminds us of our common humanity. At her book launch party this week Dr. Gladys said, “In these difficult times we should each allow the light to shine in on the darkness. We need to see the light of hope, the hope that is in each of us.”

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THE WELL-LIVED LIFE: A 102-year-old Doctor’s Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age, Atria Books, an Imprint of Simon& Schuster, 2023,

The image that leads this post is by Monika from Pixabay.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. A lovely tribute to a beautiful soul. Thanks Celia!

  2. Such a beautiful life, and lovely story told. The dream so familiar to many life’s walk, the journey- fears presented, feeling “less than” naked to the world, with clothing unbuttoned yet not wanting to let others down only to find those others are there with empathy and support to assist in each step, along the parade of accomplishments to claim her lifes reward.
    Truly lovely, and the icing on the cake, to come full circle with life’s stories .. how your own family parallels her story, even crosses paths, traveling the same roads through love and learning, teaching, sharing, while recognizing the steps we take together in our learning, our purpose. Our common thread, sharing a supportive Love.

  3. Fay Kennedy says:

    This is a beautifully-written and moving expression of thoughts…..thanks so much…..
    …..to Celia and Dr..Gladys…..💜💜

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