People, not so much
In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I usually saw Doc together with our pets. And, for the life of me, I could not understand why he only looked at and spoke to my husband. I would almost get up in his face, without as much as a look sideways! Then hubby explained (what I should have realized) about the cultural deference of speaking to the man and I completely understood and relaxed about it.
My husband actually did many things alone and for me a while after my injuries in 1999. I gradually began taking our fur babies in for their Doc visits independently, since they were so well behaved on leash. I was amazed at how kind and compassionate Doc was with me. He had followed the events of the hostage situation as his office is not far from the hospital. He told me about how he had heard the helicopters that day in June. He had prayed to the Virgin Mary, who had helped him through the hard times in his life, as he was following the story on the radio - knowing this was about Alvin's Mother. He actually hugged me in a paternal manner. I knew, at that point, we had become friends.
It seemed like I was always running to Doc's office for some reason with having our kitty, Scottie and our two Labs, Alvin & Aunt Baby. At least one of them was always needing flea medicine or nails trimmed or their annual immunizations. He opened up more and more, telling me stories of his childhood years, his decision to come to America and the difficulties he faced through the years with discrimination. Despite many obstacles, he’s built a very successful medical practice. I felt such a sense of pride when he began smiling at me, looking at me in the eyes and asking me to call him by his "real" first name. He honored me by calling me by my first name as well, which is not his usual custom.
As only a true friend would, he gave us his best advice when it came time to make our heartbreaking decision about "putting Alvin down". He even came to our home to make Biggie as comfortable as possible in his own surrounds. We were touched when a picture of Alvin that we had sent to Doc in a thank you was placed in a frame on a wall over his desk.
A few years ago, I got Doc to reveal his birthday to me. I had started popping in on him to see how he was doing. His health was starting to fail/ mostly pulmonary. He’d been having a hard time catching his breath, even when walking a very short distance. Even though Doc is in the field, like many, he has a natural distrust of physicians and really doesn't take the best care of himself. I was able to make a modest suggestion that was health-related "here and there" but, at best, I was happy to go out to lunch with him a couple times a month.
Doc's appetite is non-existent. He gets absorbed in his work and forgets to eat. But, he enjoyed going out for a burger (his favorite) giving him an opportunity to scold me for eating fish or a salad. I have been inherently programmed to treat, or at least go Dutch, when eating out with friends. Doc would become indignant at the very thought. “It is not the Egyptian way."
I learned he had a penchant for Godiva chocolates and kept him well supplied with his favorite sweets.
At one of our lunches he told me about Sarah, his soulmate of four years who shared the same birthday as he does. After his marriage ended, he met Sarah when she brought her dog to his office. Their friendship grew into an affair of the heart. I learned that their shared birthday is March 24th.
Months after Sarah died, Doc was surprised to be contacted by her lawyer. He was informed that his soulmate had left him quite a bit of earthly possessions and a plot right next to hers in the cemetery.
Doc had uncharacteristic tears in his eyes when he told me, so, Sarah's grave is never without flowers since then. Doc told me that he would be leaving this Earth on March 24th. I replied, “Let's take that as it comes, okay?"
For the last year, Doc has been getting increasingly weaker, yet he worked every day, except for a few hospitalizations related to his breathing. About a month ago, he fell while walking into his home. Fortunately, a friend was with him and called 911. After spending a couple weeks in the rehabilitation unit, Doc is back home, with nursing and home health care in place.
I know he is chomping at the bit to get back to his office and who knows? With his will power and resolve, anything is possible.
For now, I'm grateful for the chance to visit him as often as I like. And yes, he still gets an appetite for his burger and fries. I've even added a chocolate milkshake to his favorite meal.
I recently happened upon this inspirational quote...
Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched in the minds of others and the stories they share about you. (Shannon L. Alder)
Doc has a place in my heart forever. His legacy is one that inspires me every day. He loves and has lived his work, in helping to rescue animals--making and keeping them healthy.
Each visit I get with my friend, Doc, is a special gift to me. Our next vet will have huge shoes to fill.
Frank Sinatra’s, My Way, is the perfect song to dedicate to my friend, the Doc.
Until next time, wishing you peace and inspiration, your way,
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