A Tip for the Doctor
I’ve thought a lot lately about favorite patients who have since passed on.
I had one old man who was ill with cancer and a variety of chronic illnesses. His eyes were as gray as what little hair he had, and his hands were so gnarled up with arthritis they were turned near side ways. He had Parkinson’s disease and shuffled along with a cane. His dusky color alone was enough to convince me he was dying.
One day after our visit he began to reach in his pocket. “Hold on Doc, I’ve got something for you.” His hand trembled and it took him a minute, but he finally dug out a ten-dollar bill. He stretched out his hand to offer it to me.
“Oh, no my friend, you pay up front. I don’t handle the money end of this thing.”
“This ain’t your pay, it’s a tip.”
“A tip? Man, we don’t allow tips. Honest to goodness, it might even be against the law.”
“Against whose law?”
“Ain’t none of them come down here to help me.”
“No man, I can’t, really.” I gently pushed his hand away.
“Yeah you can. The government don’t pay you enough anyway. The way I see it, I’m old and hard to take care of . I want you to see me coming and know I’m gonna make your day better. I don’t want you to forget me.”
I gave in, but I put a qualifier on it. I put the bill in a special place in my wallet and never spent it on myself. The first person or cause I ran into after I received the tip who was down and out for the moment became the beneficiary. I would use the money to make their day better. Sometimes it was a little gift for my wife. I took a few people to lunch; sometimes I dropped it in the collection plate or gave it to a good cause.
Come to think of it I never reported it as income or a charitable contribution either one. I’m certain the government wouldn’t understand, so we just left it under the table.
Rest in peace my old friend, you accomplished your goal. I never forgot you.