Physician Heal Thyself! (And Me?)

Doctor, doctor give me the news

I’ve got a bad case of lovin’ you….

I understand that the practice of medicine has changed. Its changed greatly especially over the past 25 years. There is SO much specialization now. If you have a problem with your fingers…you can’t see a Dr. who specializes in shoulders. If you have a hip problem, like my wife has…you can’t see a Doctor who only sees people for knees. (we found that out this past week) There are so very few physicians who have “private practices” anymore. Most of them are “captives” of huge medical groups. They work for these groups just like a regular person works for a “boss” in the mill. The difference is the pay I suppose. Things change.

Back when I was a kid there were three Doctor’s practicing medicine in Trion. They all had offices at the old hospital. The one I went to was “Ol’ Doc Clemens” I remember him as a larger than life figure. A “big” man in the sense of size…more large in the middle than he was tall and big boned. He was a chain smoker and more than likely had a cigarette in his mouth when you walked in his office. The Doctor that was portrayed in the movie Forrest Gump was almost an exact double for Dr. Clemens as I remember him. A little gruff and grumpy at times, but he knew your name and was true to the title “General Practitioner” He treated anybody for anything. It would have to have been an extreme problem that would have sent you to a “specialist” in those days. They were few and far between, and if the Doctor sent you to one of them, your relatives might have been wise to start consulting the funeral home. Ol’ Doc Clemens didn’t believe too much in “specialists”

I went to him for everything from the mumps, to stitches, to infections, to severe colds, to severe knee problems.

I ruptured a ligament in my right knee when I was 14, swinging too hard at a baseball. Doc Clemens treated me for that. I ended up in the hospital for close to a week with my knee in traction. After that, it was a huge and heavy cast for 6 weeks. Doc Clemens recommended after I got my cast off, that I start walking to exercise it and that was when I started playing golf.

I remember we always loved to go by his house for Halloween every year. He didn’t give us kids that he knew a piece of candy. We got ice cream cones one year, candied apples another year. He lived there on the end of Sunset Lane by himself. I think his wife had passed away some years earlier…but I’m not sure. My memory is a little fuzzy in that area. All I know is that he was an unusual man. A very compassionate man.

The other two Doctors who were there in the 50’s were Dr. Little, and Dr. Hyden. They were both good men also. Dr. Hyden was the doctor who “birthed” me, and also the doctor who saved my brother’s life with an unusual blood transfusion treatment for a blood infection back when he was a little kid. Those Doctors were icons of the community. When the little hospital closed and these three Doctors stopped practicing, the old hospital sat there for quite a few years empty until Dr. Gary Smith had the front part renovated and he had his private practice there for many years. Dr. Smith was another Dr. who worked hard, for many long hours to benefit this community.

Now, I’m not commenting on what should be done about the state of medicine in this country today. I really am not writing this in order to get any political opinions about what should or should not happen to improve things. I just think back, and kind of long for the days when your Doctor knew your name, your family, and actually cared about getting you well more than he or she cared about how much money they were going to get for seeing you. They cared about all the parts of your body, and they knew what I know about the human body:

The foot bone connected to the leg bone,

The leg bone connected to the knee bone,

The knee bone connected to the thigh bone,

The thigh bone connected to the back bone,

The back bone connected to the neck bone,

The neck bone connected to the head bone,

Oh, hear the word of the Lord!

True Understanding of People

How can we have a true understanding of other people, if our minds are so closed we cannot even process any opinions which are contrary to the way WE think?

In order to understand you must first listen…really listen. Then, before you quote your rote memorized reply, stop and think about what you heard….really think. Think about putting yourself in the other persons position…walk a mile in their shoes. This goes for everyone on every which side, and every which position.

Hemingway said: “I love to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening. Most people never listen”.

Epictetus said: “It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks he already knows”.

Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will listen and obtain learning, and one who KNOWS will obtain guidance”.

I am one who has not listened well in the past, but now that my hearing isn’t quite as good, and I have had to listen more closely in order to understand…I find I have learned much more than ever before. Perhaps we should sometimes close our eyes when someone is talking and listen as would a blind man. Maybe our senses would be heightened, and we could hear beyond the sheer rhetoric and pomposity to the deep core of truth which we must surely seek.

And then there are those who quit reading after the first paragraph.

September Child…….

September 2nd……..September 4th

I remember sitting down in the edge of the grass, with my feet out on the chert rock lined road at the old Trion cemetery. I think somewhere there’s a picture….

Looking back now forty seven years later, I don’t see anything different that could have been done. I believe things happen as they happen, and even if human technology were to develop a time machine so that a person could go back in time, one has to wonder if tampering with what has already come and gone would even be remotely a good idea.

If you change one heartbeat, if you save one heartbeat….would it be in exchange for another?

When you come back from your time travel, all of your photo albums would have different scenes….different people would be in them.

Familiar love might be gone and be replaced by a different set of love.

So even with the sorrow which runs through this coming week every year now…

knowing what I know, and having what I have, I could not and would not go back and take a chance on rearranging history. Things happen as they happen and there is a reason for everything. Randomness, or planned to the infinitesimal, it doesn’t make any difference, it’s in the books.

Somewhere, out there in the Universe, or here in the Universe her spirit waits for me. That’s enough to know, and to hold onto.

Believe What you Want

Some days you go with the old ways, sometimes with the new.

I am reminded today that I do not know the real truth of anything. We as humans believe what we believe based on the use of our senses, which are sadly lacking even compared to lesser species of the animal world. We take pride in our knowledge, which is derived from what we can perceive from our tiny dust speck of a planet in our tiny section of the Universe.

I of all people do not stand in any particular position of knowledge, as it relates to anything any other human wishes to comfort themselves in believing. For all I know, we may each have different outcomes awaiting us, based on what we sincerely believe is going to happen. I have to therefore caution any and all to not cast dispersion on the true beliefs of others, even if they are far different from your own. My Daddy used to say in his wisdom, “as long as it’s not hurtin’ nobody, let ’em believe what they want…” Thanks for that one Dad.

Getting Hit by a Car

It’s no fun getting hit by a car. I can tell you that from personal experience, having been hit by one back in 1959 while crossing the street to get to the Grammer school. It’s was foggy that morning and I stepped out in front of Bo Brown…a HS Senior who was turning into the parking lot. It knocked me about 15 feet through the air and cut open big gashes in both of my knees. I was lucky that’s all it did!

Poor old Bo…God rest his soul, he bounded out of that car and carried me to the hospital which was only a block away back then. It scared me, but I know it scared him more. I’ve had knee problems off and on for years since then. They still ache some cold winter days.

Tonight, coming back from Walmart I turned onto Simmons Street. There were tons of cars at the track field, lots of little kid football practice going on… and I remembered how bad it felt to get hit by a car. I slowed way down. Sure enough a little feller darted right out between two cars in front of me. I had plenty of time to stop as I was going so slow, and it wasn’t even close. “I guess everything happens for a reason” I thought as I rolled down the window and hollered: “Hey boy, you look both ways next time!” It hurts to get hit by a car. I Know!

The Days of Autumn

The days of Summer are numbered. The only thing left in the garden is Okra and a few scraggly tomatoes growing up too high for the bugs to get. The mosquitoes are so bad that they looked like a veritable cloud around my poor little dog when she went outside this evening. You can’t walk around town without slathering yourself in a ton of “off” So…I’ll trade the last of the fresh Okra to get rid of the mosquitoes.

Perhaps an early frost this year? An early end to the “dog days” of the Summer of 2014. Usually the first frost is very close to my birthday…which is October 21, but I definitely would not mind a good hard, white hoar frost much sooner. I love them. I love the crisp, snapping, hot Apple cider, make a pot of chili days, which start out in the mornings with a white icy ground and ease up into the mid 60’s by afternoon, with a bright warming Autumn sun in the sky.

I love those days. The ones where you wear a sweatshirt but not a coat, and you see the kids out tossing around a football. The ones where the wind kicks up little whirlwinds of red, orange, brown and yellow leaves. The smell of somebody off somewhere in the distance burning a pile of those same dry leaves. The sunsets which are bright and clear with a few streaks of purple… oh how sweet and precious are those days. More valuable to me than piles of gold or diamonds.

I want to be even more aware of the wonderful days of Fall this year. I want to notice how blazing Orange the pumpkins are at Halloween, and how wonderful my wife’s Thanksgiving dressing smells and tastes. And then I want to see the little one’s eyes light up at Christmas when they tear into their gifts. I want to hold my new granddaughter, and smell the fresh newness of her life.

I never took the days of Autumn for granted. Even as a child I knew they were something special. The first poem I ever wrote was about the beauty of a special Fall day. The first song I played on my guitar and sang to was “Autumn Leaves” ” ….the falling leaves, drift by my window, the autumn leaves of red and gold…”

And so I hope for an early fall, an idyllic fall, a peaceful fall, a loving fall, a prosperous fall and a memorable fall. Not just for myself, but for all of us who need one right now so very badly. For those of us who have already seen more of them than we will ever see in the years ahead.

A taste of simplicity, a smell of memory, a sight of loveliness, a sound of familiarity and the feel of hope…for the future of all mankind. An Autumn of change..and not just in the weather.


In the reserve of human emotions which we all contain, sweetness is not seen as often as it should be seen, by any means. We commonly misuse the meaning of the word.

Sweetness is to be pleasant, marked by good humor or kindliness, as in having a “sweet disposition”.

I’ve known a lot of sweet people in the past, and we all know that babies are “sweet” but I am getting kind of worried about the good humor and kindliness portion of the dictionary’s definition. I know I don’t qualify as sweet….certainly. But , I distinctly remember a lot more sweet people comprising our populace in years gone by. You’d meet them everywhere.

Now…..well, in the scheme of things now, in the current state of our country and our world, I am hoping genetically speaking that having a sweet disposition is a dominant genetic trait.

God in a bottle

The Catholic Church is rich. Nobody knows exactly how rich. Money, banking, land, artistic and literary treasures…and ancient antiques which boggle the mind. In the name of Jesus they have become a multi national, multi layered business run by people who say they are doing the almighty’s work. But they have grossly failed the people of their faith, the common people who wanted only to do the right thing. They depended on the priests, archbishops, cardinals, and the hierarchy to lead them. 

Instead they got abuse, sexual, physical and mental. They were led like lambs to the slaughter, but said not a word….until recently. 

I was not Catholic, but instead was brought up Baptist. We learned that Jesus healed the sick, gave to the poor, and had very few worldly possessions of his own. We were taught the golden rule, and John 3:16. We sang “Jesus loves the little children of the world….red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” 

The church gave a large amount of money every year for “foreign missions”. Money earmarked to help bring people in poor countries to Jesus. 

But things change. I’ve seen the rise of the prosperity gospel money mongers like Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar…and on and on. These men and women who flaunt their riches with jet planes, 5000 dollar suits, and multimillion dollar mansions. 

I’ve seen television preachers like Pat Robertson, Falwell Jr., Graham Jr., and Robert Jeffress become more and more scions of politics and political leaders, instead of leaders of people towards morality and decency. 

I started moving away from organized religion shortly after my open heart surgery in very late 2010. I have moved away from some many long held beliefs due to my vision of the world and its inhabitants. I have taken a new path because my heart told me I was not treading the right one. I still believe in a creator, but in a much different way now then before. There are other things I still believe in, including many of the teachings of Jesus himself….and only himself. 

I say these things not to create discord or anger, but simply to let my friends know where I stand. I stand for justice, equality, tolerance, charity, love and happiness for all of the inhabitants of the world. 


I love sunrises and sunsets. Trees and rivers…beaches and snow capped mountains. Birds and bees, foxes and beaver. I have seen all of these things with my own eyes and I know them.

Almost anything which exists in nature has it’s own beauty and symmetry.

But I also love churches and cemeteries. I love bridges and lighthouses…rusty old wagon wheels and sewer covers. Remains of ancient buildings or a lovely finely crafted arrowhead. These things created by man also have beauty.

I have appreciated the chance to live, and to witness these things, and so much more.

I love the family of which I am a part. I continue to be here because of them. I want to protect them, though I know they are well able to protect themselves. My children long ago grew to adulthood.

All things change.

The personal relationships. The human achievements. The natural world. They all change. We humans are foolish to even believe we will always be the dominant force on this planet. That will also eventually change. Whether by our own hand or by nature’s whim. We are transient. We are today’s dinosaurs.

We ought to be smart enough to pull together as mankind, and reach out to the stars, and try and extend our race to some of those other Earth like planets which are just waiting for us. But instead we are petty. We are too busy hating each other for our miniscule variations in skin pigment, sexual attraction, and perceived different philosophical values, to see that we are all …simply… human.

I think daily of things we might do to make ourselves of service to each other. Simple things…nothing complex. Compassion, love, kindness, recognition, respect, civility, friendship, giving. One word sermons. I think daily of my age, and of the chances I have had to be better, but was not. I hope I can live long enough to practice some of what I should have been doing all along.

I would not wish to be young again…not in this day and age. It has taken me all these years already to realize how deep are my shortcomings. I wouldn’t relish reliving those learning experiences.

Look at yourself in the mirror, where you are now in your journey, and ask yourself if you are happy with what you see. Listen to yourself and decide if what you are saying or writing is helping or hurting other people. Sometimes you may have to change in order to make a difference for the positive in this life.

It’s not as hard as we make it out to be…


I was talking to the two Hispanic men who delivered my mattress today about working. I was their last stop at 4:45 pm and they were headed all the way back to Suwanee. I didn’t understand all they were saying but the tired “whews” of straining to set things up, and carrying in a heavy couch to the living room, caused me to note they were quite tired. I offered them a cold coke to take with them, and my sincere thanks for their professional attitude and care in handling my things. They left me the cloth furniture wraps, noting they make good rugs for the little dogs to use for beds. I thanked them again. And they were off on a three hour drive home.
I didn’t ask them their immigration status, or if they had an anchor baby. I didn’t think about if they were talking a job some regular American would want. They told me they started at 6 am this morning. Fourteen hour days delivering furniture. Do you want to do it? I don’t. Didn’t appear to me they were on welfare. I don’t think many of them actually are. As a supervisor in carpet mills the last ten years I worked, I had many of them working for me. Working, and paying FICA, and income tax. I live in a town full of Hispanic people. I watch them get in their cars at 6 o’ clock in the morning for a hours ride to work. I see them walking to the mill here in town. I see them start many churches in our county. I see them taking their children to school, wanting better education for their kids than they have. I see them playing with, and loving their families.
For several years back in the late seventies into the mid eighties I made mattresses…hourly pay plus a bonus for everything over production. Ten hour days and back breaking work. I surpassed production every day, because we needed the money. I had three kids and bills to pay. Sometimes we didn’t work full weeks. Times were hard for us. I went on to do better, but I haven’t forgotten the weight of a deluxe king size mattress on the shoulder.
It’s a good thing to remember from time to time when you are contemplating disrupting another human beings wellbeing and the care of their family.