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"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." – Maya Angelou

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.”




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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