When I was a little boy we all played Cowboys and Indians. My mom has a picture of me as a kid sitting on the back of horse. I’ve got on a big ole Indian headdress and the girl next door- we called her Dale Evans- sits right behind me in some kinda fake sequined outfit brandishing a pistol. Lord knows what kind of stereotypical roles we mighta all played- this was long before I knew what the word meant. Heck it was before stereos, at least in our household.
I am 100% nonviolent guy, but sometimes I wonder how. Back then I had a toy gun and holster set. I’d put them on first thing every morning, and each night I’d take ’em off and hang ’em on the bed post. Maybe I got it all out of my system before kindergarten.
I have ALL respect for our service people, but I know I’d be a terrible front lines solider. If a man asked me to charge across an open field waving a gun and start shooting a bunch of folks I don’t know, I am confident I’d say, “Hmn. I don’t know boss. Why don’t we radio one of those cats and see if he wants to have a cup of coffee and talk this thing over? I wonder what kind music he likes?” I guess I’d wind up in the brig.
I thought a lot about Indie after our visit the other day, and why he has meant so much to me. I guess the biggest reason is Indie always led me to the truth. My agent always says there are only a few truths that have stood the test of time, and my job as a writer is to find them. I wasn’t able to find them alone, but through Indie I at least found enough to make a little sense out of a crazy world.
Early on my agent asked, “Son, do you read the King James?”
“Yes sir, I ain’t as good as my wife, but yeah, I do.”
“Well, don’t forget the King James is the bedrock of Southern Literature.” Then he’d say he had to go, and leave me to my own devices to figure it out. I guess he figured if he told me instead of showed me it wouldn’t be as powerful.
He also knew I’d get it after a while. He understood me right off. I wasn’t the quickest one around, but I was relentless, and couldn’t stand not to find it.
As Docs, trouble is our business. That’s all we see. And to make sure we know we are human, our first pal in medicine is the cadaver. Even the slowest student gets it after a while. We are mortal, and in the end we will fail.
And here’s the thing about Indie- he got it, and better than any Doc I know. As Buck Owens would say, he came by it naturally, too. Indie didn’t have to go to a refresher course on honesty in disclosure. He was just Indie. He didn’t claim to be anything but human, and made no apologies for it. That’s why I loved him so.
And to go back to the King James, I think Indie was all about redemption. Plenty goes wrong in medicine on a regular basis, and the problems could add up over the years if you didn’t find a way to deal with it all. Indie wasn’t as good as Jesus of course, but for a human being he had that forgiveness thing down pretty good. Poor Indie will sit on some dusty library book shelf for eternity and carry all those burdens for me. Little Tommy Bibey gets to unload it all on poor Indie’s shoulders and enjoy life. Then after I get to heaven Jesus will look after me. Pretty simple huh?
I’m sure my agent will read this and say, “Yeah, and it took you two years to get there, son. How’d I ever get roped into this?”
My response would be, “Sir, it’s in the King James. I reckon Jesus sent you.”
My guess is I’ll get my book published. If nothing else it is the only way my agent is ever gonna get any peace. Right now this pesky doctor e-mails him a question every few days.
Sometimes he’ll get exasperated and reply, “Son, it’s in the King James. You gotta find it yourself- I can’t just tell you, that wouldn’t do you any good.”
I’m lucky. I have the best agent in the world. He’s right.
Well, again, y’all have a fine Holiday. I’m thankful for all of you.