The Poet Laureate

In this Rust Belt town, there are few young people left because they have all moved away looking for work and looking for a better financial future than what's left here. This leaves a healthy percentage of older people to take care of.

I don't mind taking care of the older population of this town. In fact, I enjoy talking with them, if for anything else, to try to get a sense of how this town used to be "back in the day."

Mrs. Highland came in to see me. She's definitely part of the "old money" of this town. She's a poet and through the years, has published a number of books which highlight her work.

Like many other people her age, she has about a dozen medical diagnoses in her chart and at least one medication to go with each of the diagnoses. She proudly shows me her blood sugar log and blood pressure readings over the past three months.

"How did you get out of being weighed again," I asked jokingly. "It's not polite to ask a woman her weight, you know," she retorted. I smiled because we go through this banter every time she comes in.

After the "business" of our meeting today is completed (meaning talking about her health problems), I start to write her prescription refills, and she pulls out a book.

"I wanted to give you this for being my favorite doctor," she sheepishly said. "I found it as I was going through some things at home." I looked at the book and it was something that you would find in the best antique shops in town - except, the book was in pristine condition, like it's never been open before.

"I can't accept this," I said. "Of course you will, because I said so," she barked back at me in her authoritarian voice. Then, she smiled, "We've talked a lot about poetry, and I wanted you to see how a real poet writes."

As I opened the book, there was her signature inside. Above it, there was the date and the following text was written out, "To My Favorite Doctor." I was so moved that I was initially speechless. All I could do is look her straight in the eye and say, "Thank You."