The doctor, who we all assumed was from India but was actually a native of Pakistan, was gentle, reassuring, and patient with my Midwestern farm family. We couldn’t pronounce his name, and as he shook my father’s hand he said, in his soothing accent, “Please, call me Dr. Jim.” My father, whose boots were caked with hog manure, appeared relieved, and they sat down to review what would happen on the day of my sister’s surgery. Dina had to have her back operated on, or her S-shaped spinal column would eventually crush her heart. Dr. Jim talked as if Dina’s back were the most important medical problem in the world, and he expertly sketched out the surgery for us on a sheet of paper. It resembled a plan for a marvelous spaceship: difficult to decipher but beautiful.