A Patient I am In Awe Of
Ms. Cindy is a new reader to my blog. Ya’ll need to check hers out- she is on my blogroll. She tells all kinda good country tales and her ghost stories are extra special. One day she talked about awe, and it set me to thinking about a patient I stand in awe of. So today, this post is for Ms. Cindy, and to honor my patient, Brother Herbert. This is a fiction blog, but the only thing that ain’t real about this post is his name- the rest of it, like him, is too good to be true.
Herb retired after he worked for the Highway Department for years, and he also has a green thumb. He is forever bringing me tomatoes and corn out of his garden. That Silver Queen corn on the cob is the best- roast it up in the husks and slather it with butter and salt- oh well, I’ll check my cholesterol next week.
One day I saw Herbert and ordered up some fancy tests. They were needed, but in truth not gonna save his life, and maybe not even impact it too much. Herb listened to all that and said, “Doc, I really admire you. Now me, I couldn’t never learn all them doctor books, but I asked the Lord what I could do to help people. I worked for the Highway Department- worked over there fifteen years and got promoted to the head man- stayed till I retired. You know Doc, I can’t say all them big words, but I can only do what the Lord wants me to do. So the whole time I’ve been in charge when I ride around the County and see something wrong I fix it. If I’m on the way to church on Sunday and see a Stop Sign down, I get out of the car and put it back up. If someones don’t run it and get killed I reckon I saved a life just as good as if you figured out ’bout their heart attack.”
I think Herb got it right. If we do the best at what we are here for, we’ve made our corner a bit better. It’s like I tell my son the paramedic. “Son, you’re a fine boy and a great paramedic, and you’re gonna save a lot of lives. But don’t ever forget, that fellow who puts the chemicals in the drinking water down at the Water Plant is gonna save more lives than me and you put together.” (I don’t want him to get above his raising.) I admire those highway guys and the surgeons too. I loved to read books, and the patients, but those surgeons kept the wrong hours to suit me.
I was too lazy to be a good highway man. I worked there one summer, and all that saved me was my harmonica. I’d sit in the front seat of the truck and play as we rounded up the workers. I shoveled a little asphalt, but it wasn’t long and they’d say, “Play that harp, boy.” I was most happy to oblige- that was the hardest job I ever had. By the end of summer, on Friday I’d cash my paycheck and pray for rain just like everyone else. Made an “A” in Organic Chemistry that fall, too. Every time I pass a paving crew I think of those boys. If the traffic is slow, I’ll stick my head out the window and tell them I appreciate the hell our of ‘em and I mean it too. Several of them are my patients to this day.
After he retired Herb couldn’t sit still and became a greeter at the eye clinic. When I had my cataract surgery, he found I was on the schedule, and made sure every one knew they were gonna treat me special.
“That’s my doctor ya’ll, and we’re gonna look after him.” Dang if he didn’t almost make me want to do the other eye. (A few years later I did, and he was still there.) He brought me an oatmeal cookie and coffee after I was awake good, and checked on me every fifteen minutes. It went fine, but if it hadn’t I assure you he’d gone to get the surgeon himself.
I had all faith and confidence in my surgeon but my friend’s big baritone voice was some kinda human reassurance I can’t explain. I guess I figured if a man would take off his Sunday coat on the way to church and put up a Stop Sign that got knocked down, it was the kind of place where they’d do all they could to make it right.
My eye surgery went perfect, and I give the Good Lord and the surgeon the credit, but ole Herbert being there didn’t hurt a thing for me. Any surgeon who’s good enough for a highway man like Herb is good enough for me- them are some hard working rascals.
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