I would like to share and make public my brief, but wonderful meeting with the late Mr. Rod Serling.
In early 1974, my physician-employer suggested that at his recommendation, I apply for a job as a part-time, on-call weekend and holiday phlebotomist. It was one of my specialties in the office I had worked in for many years, and he knew we could use the extra income.
On one very memorable Saturday morning, I went to the cardiac unit, to the order book, made out by the physicians for their blood test requests and sat down and started to fill out my lab slips. I saw the name, Serling, Rod, and thought wow what a coincidence to have a name after such a famous person. I had been a long time fan of the Twilight Zone, so the name really caught my eye.
When I approached the patient’s room, there was an obviously sleeping person, just about covered up to his nose with sheets. My usual greeting was then given; Good morning Mr. Serling my name is Mary Ellen and at your doctor’s request, I am here to collect some blood from you this morning. My patient rolled over, uncovered his face, and I remember being not too quiet or professional when I exploded with excitement and said,”Oh my God, you really are Rod Serling”. At that point his response was a big smile and said yes I am.
While I was preparing to collect his specimen, I told him what a great fan I was of his and how much I admired his creativity.
While waiting for surgery, I had the honor of helping to care for one of the most gentle, kind and imaginative minds. He would laugh and joke with me, and set his existing condition and impending surgery aside and still made me laugh and think with the kind of humor he was blessed with. During that period, he mentioned the idea of a story with me and commented that when this medical mess was cleared up, he would think further about his idea, and write a story.
There was much devastation the day he passed away, but his personality, humor, and imagination have lived in my heart for 27 years. I think it is now time that I put his story on paper in his memory and for the respect of a great mind that left us way too soon.
Mary Ellen Schilling