More Than A Veterinarian - A Friend

How He Can Talk to the Animals

For over 25-years, my husband and I have taken our many cats and dogs to the same Vet... He is Egyptian by descent and came to America in his early 20s with his wife, after an arranged marriage to study animal medicine, which was considered a disgrace in his homeland, especially by his Father. I did not know this (or much else about him) until years later... but I did know two things about "DOC" {which I will hereby call him as I am not sure he would care for me writing about him by name...}~~ one being that he intimidated the heck out of me (which was not done by too many people...) and second (more importantly, of course...) that he was "all knowing and all about" the animals that he served... What more could we want for in a Vet...?

Do I Hear the Phone Ringing...? (Scott Eustace, 1993-2009)
Do I Hear the Phone Ringing...? (Scott Eustace, 1993-2009) | Source

With People... Not so Much...!

In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I usually saw DOC together with our pets. And, for the life of me, I could not understand why DOC only looked at and spoke to my husband. I would almost get up in his face-- not as much as a look sideways... wowee! Then hubby explained (what I should have realized) about the cultural deference of speaking to the man and I completely understood/ relaxed about it.

My husband actually did many things alone and for me during many months after my injuries in 1999--but I was gradually able to begin taking our fur babies in for their DOC visits independently, since they were so well behaved on leash. I was simply amazed at how kind and compassionate DOC was with me. He had followed the events of the hostage situation as his office was not far from the hospital and he told me about how he had heard the helicopters that day in June/ how he had prayed to the Virgin Mary, who had helped him through so many hard times in his life, as he was following the story on the radio and knew it was Alvin's Mother. He actually hugged me in a paternal manner and I knew that, at this point, we had become friends.

It seemed like I was always in and out of DOC's office for some legitimate reason with having our kitty, SCOTTIE and our two Labs, ALVIN & AUNT BABY... someone needed flea medicine or nails trimmed or their annual immunizations. He opened up more and more... telling me stories of his childhood years, his decision to come to America and the difficulties he has faced through the years with discrimination in building his successful practice, despite many obstacles. I felt such a sense of pride when he began smiling at me, looking at me in the eyes and asking me to call him by his "real" first name (he honored me by calling me by my first name as well, which is not his usual custom).

As only a true friend would, he gave us his best advice when it came time to make our heartbreaking decision about "putting Alvin down" and he he came to our home to make Biggie as comfortable as possible in his own surrounds. We were touched when a picture of Alvin that we had sent to DOC in a thank you was placed in a frame on a wall over his desk.

About 3-years ago, I was able to finally get DOC to reveal his birthday to me--I'll get to that in a few sentences... About this time, I started just popping in on DOC to see how he was doing... his health was starting to fail/ mostly pulmonary-- really hard to catch his breath even when walking a very short distance. Even though DOC is in the field, like many, he has a natural distrust of physicians and really doesn't take the best care of himself that he should. I was "sometimes" able to make a modest suggestion that was health-related "here and there" but, at best, I was happy to go out to lunch with him a couple times a month.

DOC's appetite is non-existent. He was so absorbed in his work that he could forget to eat... (this has never remotely happened to me). But, he was willing, a couple times a month, to go out for a burger (his favorite) and this would give him an opportunity to "scold me" for eating fish or a salad. As much as I have been inherently programmed to treat (or at least "go Dutch"), DOC would become indignant at the very thought-- "it is not the Egyptian way..." I learned he had a penchant for GODIVA chocolates and was, at least, able to keep him well supplied with his favorite sweets.

It was at one of our lunches that he told me about Sarah, his soulmate of 4-years who shared the same birthday as he did. He had met Sarah after his marriage had ended when she brought her dog into his office... and their friendship grew into an affair of the heart. I was able to gently learn that their shared birthday is March 24th... when Sarah died, DOC was surprised, months later, to be contacted by her lawyer... it seems that his soulmate had left him quite a bit of Earthly possessions and a plot right next to hers in the Cemetery. DOC had uncharacteristic tears in his eyes when he told me this because this is a man who "does the treating, please remember". So, Sarah's grave is never without flowers now and DOC told me those few years ago that he would be leaving this Earth on March 24th... I remember saying "let's take that as it comes, OK?"

Well, I am half Italian and half Southern so I have been able to insist on paying for DOC's lunch TWICE-- to celebrate his March birthday in 2009 and 2010. And I had all good intentions of taking him out today, the 26th for lunch to celebrate his 76th year...

It's been a rough winter for most of the US but DOC has really felt it... he has not been up to going out for lunch so I have been stopping in through the weeks as my schedule permitted, just to say HI... I remember my most recent visit was to set up this birthday lunch date. As usual, he was quibbling about who would be treating who but he had a bright smile on his face. He seemed optimistic and I remember saying how much I would look forward to planning his 100th... and he laughed and nodded. He was at his desk and organizing his work as usual with appointments on his calendar and he put our lunch date on his book-- as he always did.

Well, on Thursday, I wanted to call and wish DOC a Happy Birthday but there was no answer. Earlier in the week, I had sent a card that he should have gotten from all of us... so I won't worry (yeah right, but I happened to drive by a couple times while doing errands and his office was closed but he could have been taking a well-deserved day off--but he never does that...). So, yesterday, I called again with no answer and, yup, went by a few more times-- same thing... This morning, ah man... no answer (the mail that was in the front door is now gone... including our card)... I left a note asking "DOC" to call with my phone number... and, sadly, there will be no birthday lunch today. From way too many experiences with the homeless population, I called the local hospitals and he had not been admitted. My next call to the local police, at least told me that he was not helpless in his home- in fact, a medical emergency had been called on Wednesday evening, March 23rd. That was about all I could do for now.

These are times, to be certain, that I wish I still had Mom's counsel with my daily phone calls and she would, no doubt, know exactly what to say. And so, now I rely on myself and what "I believe" Mom would do... I guess it is hard to sit by when you care about someone but you are not a part of the immediate family. Right now I can imagine Mom saying: "You don't really have all the answers now. Don't borrow trouble."

I have both volunteered and been asked to offer comments at retirements and funerals... of course, I much prefer the retirements and always encourage people to tell each other what makes them so special/ what they appreciate/ how they feel (similar to "the giving flowers while you are alive" concept...) So, no matter what, I know that everyone in my world, including DOC knows exactly how I feel about them... (that has been especially important to me since 1999). I come from the persuasion that this may be the last time we see each other/ interact with each other, so I want to be sure it is a positive and happy (as possible) experience. I never mean for that to come across as fatalistic~~ merely realistic, as this is truly how life happens~~ in a flash of a second at times.

As far as DOC goes... I love him for the care he has given to my furry babies over these many years and the true friend he has become to me, despite our age and cultural differences~~ I have actually told him that he has replaced my Father (who died of stroke complications in 1995) in temperament and disposition/ he thoroughly enjoyed that. I know for several years, he has been miserable with physical pain ~~ getting little to no relief from some medicines and treatments~~ talking longingly of reuniting with his beloved Sarah and their dog when the Lord was ready for him~~ and worrying incessantly about the current financial climate. The very animals that brought DOC so much joy were also wearing him out physically... very difficult to watch / especially over this last year. My deepest prayers are that he will get some intensive care in one of our city hospitals and I will update as I learn anything more.

ADDENDUM: (March 29, 2011)... Right again, Mom...!! Over the last few days, your kind comments have helped more than you know and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Nevertheless, I have been privately, quite a wreck... continuing to drive by DOC's place daily, going on to calling all the city hospitals / even in the nearby areas and, even, checking the obituaries (just clinically from my training.../ I really didn't want to "go there"...)

This morning, I just decided spontaneously to call DOC's office and almost cried with relief as he answered, very faintly, on the 6th ring... He had just been discharged yesterday (from the very first local hospital I had called-- perhaps his longer Egyptian name is on his medical ID...) and was already back in the office/ worrying about catching up with "his customers". He realized after a short time that he would need to make it a half day and he even apologized for missing our lunch. At that point, I was just so happy to be talking to my friend and I know that I can check in on him soon to reschedule...

I am reminded of Mom telling me, with every death, "it must have been their time". It didn't matter how old the person was or how they died... she always said it. And, today, I am so grateful it was "not" DOC's time...because I know he has more stories to tell and wisdom to impart as he does what he loves, taking care of the pets he regards as his family.

"He (my friend) has become for me an island of light, fun, wisdom where I could run with my discoveries and torments and hopes at any time of day and find welcome." (May Sarton)

© Maria Jordan (March, 2011)

You've Got A Friend

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Comments 50 comments

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 18 months ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thanks - you are absolutely correct - your visit is appreciated.

sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 18 months ago

a professional in the true sense of the term

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Dear Gail,

So very happy that you happened upon this - one of my most sentimental hubs about one of my favorite people ever.

I will be visiting "Doc" on Wednesday with a box of his favorite Godiva chocolates from Andy's a yearly tradition and we look forward to it.

Love, hugs and merry days, Maria

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 2 years ago from South Carolina

Wow! I just discovered this beautiful hub about "Doc" and was so glad to learn it has a positive update, plus the fact that Doc was there for you throughout Aunt Baby's illness and is still there for Andy.

What a lovely tribute you've written to this amazing man, and what a beautiful and deep friendship/kinship you have with him.

Blessings & Love,


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

I LOVE this story! I want a DOC! So often we just visit doctors for ailments of our own, family members or fur babies and many of us never take the time to actually learn something or develop a relationship with the doctors, nurses or techs...I am not one of the many, I like to develop friendships and reach out to them. You never know unless you try :) And I often reprimand doctors because they do NOT take care of themselves! I kid you not! I remind them to get physicals, exams, tests and they appreciate it. How's DOC doing???

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author


Thank you so much for visiting this old classic...Doc is one of a kind, that's for sure, bless him...still kicking!!

Hoping you and yours have a lovely weekend and SYS at the Frosty Mug!

Love you, Maria

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I loved this amazing story that held me captive right to the last word. You really have a gift of storytelling, Mar, that shines through in every sentence. I found myself speed reading to get to the conclusion out of concern for this wonderful man you have described so beautifully here.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Dear Vellur,

After reading your profile and your lovely comments, It is so very nice to meet you.

DOC has said that he will work with his beloved animals until he dies. They are his passion and it shows. I pray that your wish is true as well.

Will visit you soon and have a peaceful day. Hugs, mar.

Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Your writing touched my heart deep within. Loving and caring makes the world go around. Glad DOC is still around and may he live for many, many more years to come.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Oh Doc,

Now my eyes have filled with tears at your comment. Thank you for sharing this with me. You can believe your patients love you as if you are indeed family.

I am so glad to see you back. I know that empty, exhausted feeling well and it does take time... and 6 months may seems like yesterday some days.

My DOC here in town is actually doing pretty well. We are back to our visits and he is much better in warmer weather.

I am so looking forward to reading your work. I suspect it will be very healing. See you in your 'hood' soon.

Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Dear Maria, you had me choking with emotion with tears in my eyes with this heartfelt, loving tribute to a ver fine gentleman. The writing is natural and exquisite, your kind heart and empathetic outlook shines. More importantly this reminds me of the relationship I have with some of my own patients and the constant care and attention THEY give me back - more apparent when I got back this January after my Dad's funeral ...I was pretty down in the dumps, exhausted and feeling empty - I hadn't been writing in th hubs for over 6 months and was feeling desolate. The love my patients showed inspired me to return to writing and the support and encouragement of my hub buddies got me back in full swing. Thanks for sharing this with us- May the Doc live on and deliver his wonderful services as long as he can... Best wishes!

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Dear Yvonne,

So good to see you and yes, we just celebrated DOC's 77th at the end of March! We went to his favorite, Burger King... the only time anymore I allow myself to indulge in fast food.

I look forward to visiting soon, especially a couple of yours that I have starred. I seem to be running eternally behind schedule! Hugs, Maria

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

You painted quite a vivid word picture here, as I could ‘see’ you in your search for Doc. Glad to hear he is doing well and still caring for animals. He must be 77 now?

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Oh Sista,

Now you have me crying as I listen again to JT and think of our friendships, so strong and so tender as well...

DOC is great, just saw him the other day. He still has days he is not at his best; but he is a strong man, who loves his furry charges.

Thank you for visiting this piece to remind me of two wonderful friendships in my world.

Have a lovely night and TTYT. Hugs, Maria

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Maria, this is certainly one of the most touching hubs I've read in HubPages. Gosh, I am crying my heart out. We do get so fond of some friends that their comings and goings seriously affect us.

You are such a friend for me, even though we only interact in CyberSpace. I hope that I will never have to call hospitals searching for you.

Tons of hugs from me in South Africa :))

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Dear Stessily,

I am happy to report that Doc is just fine. Aunty Baby and I just went in last week for her annual check up. We'll be having lunch soon to celebrate his March birthday.

Indeed, 'friends make such a difference in life'. Thank you for your wise words and for stopping by to visit this piece.

Hugs, mar.

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stessily 5 years ago

mar, It would seem that there are no strangers in your life! It is really heart-warming to read how your friendship blossomed with Doc. I was worried as I was reading that the next paragraph would have sad news about Doc's demise. I am so relieved that he's alive and kicking, and that you both can continue to light up each other's lives for many years to come.

Friends make such a difference in life.

Thank you for sharing Doc.

Kind regards, Stessily

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you so much, Multiman... I appreciate you stopping by and your kind vote. Take it easy!

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Multiman 5 years ago

A very tender beautiful and moving story. Voted Up.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you so much for your lovely and insightful comment, my sweet Lucky Cats... having just read your poignant story of Mr John Jaerger and his/ your beautiful home, I know you very well understand our relationship~~ length of time doesn't really matter when you have formed a special bond with someone.

Take good care and Happy Easter...

Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Ohhhh, this is so wonderful. Such a loving story about your dear dear friend. All the social and age and other things which might separate the two of you didn't and don't because your spirits recognized oneanother. I just love that you have such deep feelings of respect and love for this man. And that he is your beloved and trusted Veterinarian is like double chocolate, swirled icing on the cake. You are a warm and kind person and all animals and people who come into your life are definitely blessed. I wrote a story about the man from whom I bought my 'farm' here in SE Kansas...which now is an animal sanctuary....I knew him very little, really; and for only a short time but came to admire and respect him greatly. If you have a chance, please read "The Long Road Home." The depth of friendship didn't have time to develop but, I will always remember Mr. Jaerger, and his J's and other handcrafted touches still remain on his former home, to this day. Thank you so much for a truly beautiful hub. Of course, UP, Awesome and Beautiful, without a doubt!

Kathy happy, too, to hear that he is still with you and well enough to continue his magic work with animals!

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you, theseus... I appreciate your sweet, supportive words~~ I have spoken to DOC a couple times and will be visiting him in a short while~~ he is back to "business as usual" but is tired, which is understandable.

Take good care.

theseus profile image

theseus 5 years ago from philippines


What a tribute! The "Doc" is blessed that he has you. I hope he gets better soon as I know how important he is to you and your community. God bless.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thanks, Car51... me too~~ I'm still so happy he is OK.

Car51 profile image

Car51 5 years ago

Just read your addendum -- what a relief! May DOC recover well from his illness and continue to provide good care for his "patients" as he is able. Hope you can reschedule the birthday visit soon!

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Dear Jane~~ I am answering as you have signed off with a CHEERFUL heart as I have spoken to DOC today, (3-29)... in fact, I intend to edit my tale a bit as promised... thank you so very much for your heartfelt feedback.

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore

What a warm, lovely and very human story marcoujor. I really enjoyed reading about the slow growth of your friendship with DOC.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thanks for your kind feedback, Sandyspider~~ I wish everyone had such a compassionate and competent Vet.

He is all that, shygirl2 and I thank you for dropping by with your supportive comments.

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shygirl2 5 years ago

He sounds like a wonderful vet and friend. Wish I could say we have them around here. My sisters vet comes closest to mind. Thanks for sharing your story...will drop in again! : )

Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

What a nice tribute to your pet's doctor. It sounds like you have an excellent vet.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you so much, mojefballa and welcome to HubPages!

mojefballa profile image

mojefballa 5 years ago from Nigeria

Great and well presented piece of work.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you for your kind words, AliciaC~~I am hoping to hear from/ about DOC soon as well.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

What a wonderful and at the same time a sad story. It is wonderful that you and Doc developed such a meaningful relationship. I hope very much that Doc reappears in your life.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Hi Dear Kashmir56~~ I thank you for stopping in and I would say that your furry friends must be in very good hands with their DOC... which, to me, is as important as selecting our own MDs. Take care.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you, Dr Ope... your feedback means the world and I truly appreciate it.

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi marcoujor, thank you for sharing this very beautiful article he sounds just like the doc that takes care of my furry friends !

Dr.Ope profile image

Dr.Ope 5 years ago

marcoujor, another great one. Thank you for always sharing with us. Keep on doing what you do best.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Creativeone59~~ I LOVE when you stop in~~ your picture makes me feel especially comforted/ as if I know you as a dear friend. Have a peaceful day & I will be visiting your work soon.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Stars439~~ Thank you very much for reading my work~~ you are such an honorable person/ loved your profile and I will look forward to reading more of your work as well.

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 5 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thanks for a great story. thanks for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

stars439 profile image

stars439 5 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful Hub, And God Bless You.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Yes, Car51, I am worried but writing this has helped somewhat... and I will keep you informed, thanks.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

I appreciate your optimism, Lyn and will keep everyone posted~~ thanks for stopping in to read this.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you, Giselle... it is hard for DOC to accept a compliment but I do believe he would smile as well... I appreciate your kind remarks.

Car51 profile image

Car51 5 years ago

What a wonderful friendship! I'm sure you are worried about "Doc". Thanks for keeping us posted with hopefully good news.

Lyn.Stewart profile image

Lyn.Stewart 5 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

Thank-you for sharing. up, awesome and beautiful. keep us informed and I hope all is good.

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Giselle Maine 5 years ago

A beautiful (and sad) story and beautifully written. It's great that your memories of this man will live on through this hub. Although I don't know him, your writing brings his peronality out in a way that makes me think he would be smiling if he could read what you wrote about him.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA Author

Thank you so much for being the first to stop in, Will... you are a fine and sweet man yourself! Take care.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

What a sweet tribute to a fine man!

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