Centenarian’s code

Ode to a 100-year-old practicing physician

The Friday afternoon when I arrived

they made me wait

‘till ten past five.

“Doctor is quite busy, see? Relax. Sit down. He knows you’re here. He knows he’s late.”

Image: pexels.com

The jacket-length white coat—unspoiled and freshly pressed

bowtie in saffron,

a pallid shirt

dress pants, shoes, cow-lick to the side

unwavering the handshake—his slender frame in spite

bespectacled: his piercing gaze unflinching—a nod, a smile—bright-eyed


Bemused he listened

head slanted, perched high up on a stool, relaxed—the fingers intertwined

Then scoffed—

Retirement? He laughed. My goodness, to what end? A foreign word, no question—

frivolous, preposterous, practiced pray tell by amateurs

Each morning—new lessons, new riddles, new mysteries to solve—please, sir, a smarter suggestion?


Seventy-five years and more a doctor

Back then, middle of the war—

So limited our arsenal: morphine, curar’, and chloroform,

thiopental and ether too; alas, our sole antibiotic—feeble ol’ sulphonamide

for lifesaving penicillin—we waited ‘till the next year—nineteen-forty-two

You needed anything—you made it, designed it, sterilized, re-utilized—invention, our sole, and only guide


How do I stay current you ask?

Another laugh. I read, and I write, and I listen

Intention, convention—if not, the college will slam with detention

Each morning for close to an hour, first stretching, then running and lifting

No meat shall I eat but some fish

Then hurry to work and I wonder—‘bout new things I’ll learn on that day—and always, but always uplifting


The hour is up

I do notice. Forgive my insolence, dear doctor—last question

How at ease are you

in using computers, and gadgets, and latest ‘lectronic devices?

A moment I thought I had stomped him

Not slighted he grinned—an iPad is all that I use, my young friend—it always suffices



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2 thoughts on “Centenarian’s code

    • Hi Laura,
      Don’t we all?
      I met this gentleman a little over a year ago—he’s turning 100 this year.
      It was an incredibly uplifting, but also a humbling experience to spend an hour talking to him. Incredible. And such a humble man.
      Worth striving for.
      All the best,