In Asia last fall people, old and young, said to me, as I hoisted my bags off and on trains and taxied across bad mountain passes, “My, you are strong (politely refraining from adding ‘for a little old lady’). I loved that more than I can adequately express—better than every other compliment in my life rolled into one.

Lately, I’ve not felt strong though. This ache…that pain. Getting in the way of this trip and that journey. Nothing serious but I have four major trips to go before I retire…No time for frailties, fragilities (or frugalities for that matter).

Just to be sure I’m ready for 2018’s big travel push, I’m making some doctors’ appointments, having a few tests, trying out new vitamins and meds, adopting new and better attitudes, and eating a lot of spinach. It’s tricky.

The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman. (Jonathan Swift)

I’ve selected the University of New Mexico Healthcare system as my home base. It accepts my insurance and it’s the closest thing available to universal healthcare.  With young doctors around it should be open to new ideas? And, supposedly, medical schools these days teach listening. I also like that almost all my records are in one system and all of the facilities in a compact geographic area.

My primary care doctor, in the UNM system, is actually a smart, personable, and attentive nurse practitioner. My other favorite doc, in private practice, is a rheumatologist who knows me when I walk in and listens to me before questioning, suggesting and prescribing. They’re both young and both make me feel confident and considered in their care. While I feel good about the knowledge and skills of the medical personnel throughout the UNM system, it’s not exactly personal even when they appear to be the nicest of people, and there are always those few docs who obviously finished their education before there were classes in listening.

It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy. (Chinese Proverb)

This was going to be a piece that, while praising my own doctors, complained about the cost and disconnectedness of the American healthcare system in general, and specifically from my own experiences seeking healthcare in what is one of the poorest states in the union. Too many of those whiny and/or shocking stories already.

Instead here’s a little trip down a Minnesota memory lane of American healthcare. Yes, of course, there are a million heartwarming stories of that revered character, the Country Doctor. They are among our folk heroes for good reason and I am old enough to have had the good fortune to know one.

When I was a kid, the Neset family doctor was Dr. Gordon Franklin. You know the story—he came to the house no matter the condition of the roads, for my measles, mom and bro Robert’s bronchial attacks, for bad flu cases and other maladies of farm family life. He took chickens for payment (not really, but that might have been faster than waiting for the $1s and the $5s and the $10s to dribble in over weeks or even months). He and Midge, his wife/nurse, were always kind, always soft-spoken, always there. My first paying gig was baby-sitting for the Franklins. Three small kids, nicely tucked in for the night when I arrived. Years later, when mom and dad had to leave the farm, mom gave or sold her sheep to Doc and Midge. She’d visit her old wooly buddies from time to time at the Franklin’s farm on the edge of town.

So here’s to the healthcare system we elders grew up with…sorry you missed it kids, then you’d know why, every now and then, you hear your grandparents mention doctors with notes of trust and awe in their voices.

Cornerstones of Northome remembered: Many of fond memories of Dr. Gordon and Marjorie Franklin, who died in a recent house fire. (By Audren Zimmerman on Mar. 1,2017 at 7:06pm)

Pictured are Dr. Gordon Franklin, and his wife, Marjorie at birthday celebration in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Parke)

NORTHOME — After a tragic house fire claimed the life of a two pillars of Northome, a community near and far has come together to share memories of Dr. Gordon Franklin, 96, and his wife, Marjorie (Midge) Franklin, 92.

The Franklins died in the fire at their house just outside of Northome on U.S. Highway 71 just after midnight on Wednesday, Feb. 22. A memorial service for the Franklins has been scheduled for 2 p.m. March 19 at the Northome Public School… “I can remember seeing him as a child as my doctor,” wrote Andrea Gross on Facebook. “He was always so kind and friendly. Truly a gem of our small town communities!”… So sorry for the loss of two wonderful people, I knew them as a child growing up in rural Northome. He took care of our whole family for years, delivered my nieces and nephews…“My last memories are of his vegetables at the farmers’ market. . . I now live in Ga. but will never forget my first Doctor and his wife the RN. May they rest in peace.”

A throwback to the “country doctors” of old, the Franklins were synonymous with health care in the Northome region for more than a half century…“They came to Northome in the summer of 1950 and my dad opened a doctor’s office there and then they built Northome Clinic,” said daughter Marcia Franklin…“My mom was involved in the clinic with my dad for years and then they recruited some people in partnership to help build the nursing home in Northome. My mother went from being an office nurse to being the administrator of the nursing home for eight years, until they sold it. “…The Franklins were cornerstones of the Northome community, many said, involved in many aspects of the town, from church to schools to the great outdoors…“My dad loved to farm and garden; they both did,” Marcia Franklin said. “He raised veggies and she raised flowers. They loved living in the northwoods and took full advantage of that….They loved the outdoors and did things like the Audubon (Society) Bird Count for years. My mom taught mushroom foraging for the extension service for years. We spent lots of time out in the woods.”…Marcia recalled how much her parents loved one another…“My mom was getting sick and would have to go to the nursing home soon and she worried so much about leaving my dad at home alone…“He felt so sad that he couldn’t take care of her anymore,” she said. “I think it’s good that they went together…. (From the Bemidji Pioneer)

Men who are occupied in the restoration of health to other men, by the joint exertion of skill and humanity, are above all the great of the earth. They even partake of divinity, since to preserve and renew is almost as noble as to create. (Voltaire)

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