Wednesday, June 1, 2011

doc baker

Me and Doc Baker.  That's what I think while I'm making house calls all over Buncombe County.  I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie.  And loved the idea of a doctor actually coming to your house when you were sick.  I still love it.  Our patients don't have to sit in a waiting room to see a nurse or doctor, drive to a government building to find their social worker, or walk into a church to visit with their chaplain.  We come to them.

Doing that takes me crisscrossing all over this part of the state.  Up mountain roads, down gravel roads, over the river and through the woods..... to trailers, apartments, big homes and little homes.  I can't believe that almost every day I get to drive segments of the Blue Ridge Parkway, cross sections of the French Broad River and often get a glimpse of our claim to fame - the Biltmore House.  I get a front row seat on seasons changing.  And finding more and more to love in this place I get to call home.

The people I get to visit with are just as interesting.  Last week I sat on a wide front porch with an elderly man.  We watched two squirrels try to climb into a bird feeder while he told me about driving an ambulance in Hollywood in the 50's.
"Did you ever pick up anyone famous?"  I had to ask.
"Oh, yes.  Regularly." He answered.
"I can barely remember my own name, much less some actor."  He said.  "Besides, I'm not into that whole "movie star" scene."
"Yeah." I tried to agree.  Hoping he wouldn't see the People magazine in the front seat of my car.

The next day I was sitting in a garden bursting with bright red azaleas learning about how why old Cadillacs are the best.  A 40 minute drive north and I was perched at a kitchen table learning how to properly can pickles.  And later I sat bedside in South Asheville hearing about what it was like to be a stewardess after the war, flying to Japan to pick up wounded soldiers.  Yep.  I get paid for this!

Because of my house calls, I am getting very familiar with Fairview, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Canton, Weaverville, Cane Creek, and everything in between.  So I was surprised to be stumped when I asked a man in Woodfin where he met his wife.
"Seedy." He responded.
"Is that around here?" I asked.  He looked agast.
"Just down the road a mite."
 "I guess I haven't been there yet." I admitted.
"You lived here 20 years and never made it to Seedy?"
He clearly thought I was yahoo.  That's when I realized that Seedy was City as in downtown.  But my credibility was already shot with him.

Sometimes I soak up the silence in between visits.  Sometimes my car is filled with the Irish voices of Maeve Binchey's villagers, or the Sierra Madre's Tarahumara from Born to Run.  Sometimes it's the familiar voices of John Ortberg or Rob Bell bringing Bible passages to life.  Often it's phone calls to hear what my mom and dad are up to in California. These stories mix with the stories of my patients and their families.  I am wrapped in a big patchwork quilt of other people and places and times.  Their stories are becoming part of my story.  Adding, stretching, shaping and coloring the person I am becoming.

I guess that's just what happens when you make house calls.


  1. You've never been a "seedy" girl! You need to publish a book! XO M6

  2. I love this post! reading all the descriptions of what your job is like makes me feel like I'm there with you. And it recalls memories of storming up and down the mountain from a-ville to s-burg.

    I didn't mention in my email earlier that I'm going to be spending this summer unit of CPE with our home hospice chaplain, so i'll be getting to do some of what you're going. Yay!

    Yaar N

  3. fantastic! once in S'burg I asked a family member her name. She said "MAY REEE" and so I wrote "Mae" then "Ree". "NO, she said MARY".

    duh. Obviously I am not from "round here. Now I have SEEDY chaplain story. hee hee! you are stiching together for the good.

  4. that's just cause you're not a seedy girl-your roots are country! M6