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I always enjoy the emails I get around Thanksgiving. Poems and quotes about being thankful and looking for the little blessings that surround us all. Well, this Thanksgiving I got a little different email that I wanted to share with all of you. It made me think about my life and the insignificant little worries that I let weigh me down. This was from a friend that is a dentist in Beaver, Utah.
“Today my scheduling coordinator came back to the room with a frightened look on her face. She said ‘Dr Howard there’s a homeless guy outside on a bike, and I think he’s coming in here. What should I do?’ I said, ask him what we can do for him. She said, well, hurry come & look. I looked out the window. In the parking lot is a man about 6’1″ upper 60′s. Dirty as a swamp rat. Hands, face and arms are black from dirt. He has a thin greased stained T-shirt. Long John’s with a pair of cut off camouflage pants that are cut off short, so mostly you see the dirty thermals extending down to his ankles. He has sunglasses and a tattered Australian style hat with a chin strap. He’s riding a yellow Honda trail 90 with a bicycle in tow attached to the back of it. The front tire of the bicycle is attached to the side of the trail 90 and the front forks are attached to the trail 90 seat. There are sleeping bags and packs attached to the bicycle and trail 90 in every possible position front to side to back leaving just enough space for him to slip his leg over the seat and sit down. I really regret not taking a picture, as words cannot describe it.
He entered in and to the front desk. He said he did not want to lose his teeth. He said he was a disabled American vet, and wanted to know if Medicare would pay for his dental work. From standing distance you could see his severely inflamed gums, and decayed teeth. A discussion ensued with my front desk about whether or not Medicare would pay. He stating he wanted it to, she trying to explain Medicare would not pay. My assistant rushed back and asked me to come up and talk with him. Reluctantly, I went to the front desk. He started explaining to me. I invited him to sit down, and while we talked I had my scheduling coordinator call the VA hospital, as they will sometimes pay us to do work for vets because we are in a rural area 3 hours from the nearest VA hospital. He talked and talked and basically told me his whole life story along with Vietnam experiences. He said he had come here for the winter. I explained this was not an agreeable place to spend a winter, as it gets extremely cold with lots of snow (we had 6″ of snow over the weekend and it was down to 3 degrees). I offered to put him up in a motel for awhile so he could have a shower and relax a bit. He vehemently refused saying there was no way he could be cooped up in a box like that. He said he loved the cold, and was perfectly at home in his tent in the trees. He praised me, and said I was a saint for being able to stay boxed up all day long helping people. I offered to buy his meals. He refused saying he eats like a king. He said he has his Disability pay deposited in a credit card account every month. He said he goes to IFA and buys a 50lb bag of wheat and another of barley. He said that would last him all winter. He kept saying how much he loves living in the trees and riding his bike around. He went on for a solid half hour. He said he loves to talk, and thanked me immensely for taking the time to talk to him because everyone else just gets freaked out and runs away, so he isn’t able to interact with people very often. He had a special type of dental coverage so they would not pay us to do it. There was only 1 clinic in 100 miles that was authorized for his plan. He was enthused to ride his bike there, so we gave him the phone # & address and he was on his way.
As he left everyone in the office was crying. Amazing how we can at times get so crazy about our lives, and stuff going on, and here you have a man that feels like a king sleeping in the dirt, riding his bike, eating grain and just enjoying his freedom.
From now on I’ll think of him every time I get “bent out of shape” over something, and count my blessing every time I lite up the wood stove.”
May you all have a wonderful holiday season. I know I’m going to hug my family, be thankful for a heater, and listen to someone that just needs some of my time.
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen