I hope this note finds you well.
I have some news for those who don’t already know. Ms. Annette and I are retiring from the practice of medicine.
I first entered medicine as a wide-eyed kid from East Arkansas in the fall of 1969 and had no idea what I was going to do; I do remember considering both surgery and pediatrics but as most of you know I ended up in family practice and don’t think I could have made a better personal choice.
My first contact with Benton and Saline County was in summer of 1973. At that time Saline Memorial Hospital had just begun having doctors in the emergency room at night. I was among the first crew of “interns” to work those night shifts.
In 1977, after finishing my training, a stent in the Army, and a year in Smackover, I returned to Benton and set up practice; like my choice of family practice, it was a good personal choice and one that I have never regretted.
I eventually opened my own office out on Highway 5 thinking that I would end up as a Marcus Welby-like character. Well, that didn’t happen and within a couple of years Jim Cooper then Kirk Watson joined me; since then we have had five other partners join our group and I am proud to say that no one has ever left the group.
As most of you are aware we lost our good friend, Brian Sudderth, to a sudden catastrophic illness last year and his loss may have something to do with my own decision to retire.
For several years I have lied about retirement saying first that I was going to retire at age fifty-nine and then at sixty-two. Last year I told everyone I was going to quit on my birthday, 12-12-12; I liked the idea of the symbolism. But as before, when the date got close I just couldn’t convince myself that it was time.
As many of you know Annette and I love to travel, especially riding trains and bicycles. She made her mind up to retire at the first of the year. She is our trip planner and I’ve joked that I was worried she might start planning trips without me. The truth is that Brian’s death a year ago brought home to me the impermanence of life.
This summer when I began thinking again about hanging up my stethoscope, I did what I have always done when those thoughts start to arise: I took a nice vacation to see if I would change my mind. Unlike other times, this time I couldn’t even make myself think about it.
When this magazine hits the shelves I will have packed up my books and equipment and eased out the door but I will not have “gone gently into the good night.”
As you could guess, I love writing. I will continue writing this column for Saline County Lifestyles. In addition to the two books I’ve already penned, my first attempt at non-fiction is in the works. Three additional novels and a book of short stories are in varying levels of completion.
As a final note I want to thank all of you for your friendship and support for the last thirty-seven years.
Have a good journey.