Some of you may have guessed the name of the ex-bridge partner of mine who has irritated me greatly by sending me lessons in basic bridge and telling me, “It’s easy; you can learn this.” when I’ve known or played that system for decades. Yes, and another clue, he was a doctor.
So I decided I will write about one doctor I don’t know as well personally but who, through the years, came to mean much to my family, especially the four-legged ones, and that is Dr. Morton Goldberg.
I grew up in a family of animal lovers and remember gobs of kittens and cats, a dog named Bill, a rooster, Pedro, that would sit on my shoulder as I bicycled through town, dozens of canaries and a turtle named Christine or Chris. We were never sure.
My French-German grandmother had one trick up her sleeve that I bet Dr. G. couldn’t master. I would go to her and ask if a certain kitten were a boy or girl. She would hold it high in the air and then give me the answer.
“How do you know?” I would ask, and he would answer, ”I just look at their eyes.”
I never learned how to do that either.
There are two major incidents about the Evins’ animals that I remember so well that Dr. Goldberg handled so splendidly.
The first was when my children’s gerbil Hamlet – I wanted to save that name in case we ever got a great Dane, but nevertheless – ran across the bedroom floor holding a red sequin in its mouth.
I then remembered the instructions my children had given me. When I cleaned out his cage and replaced the top, I was to add a book on top of that since he had learned to push up the lid. I just didn’t realize that they meant something like “War and Peace” and not “The Old Man and the Sea.”
The next day, I found Hamlet as a state of “to be or not to be,” and I called Dr. Goldberg and drove to his office, blubbering about how bad I was and could he operate.
Dr. G. could have made quite a bit on an operation, but he told me the gerbil’s intestines were probably cut by the sequin, and he would put him to sleep. He tried to cheer me up for my self-condemnation.
But the event that meant the most was when my cat, Miss Fatty Black, was so sick on a Sunday afternoon I called Dr. G., and he agreed to meet us at his office near the then Martin Theater.
If I believed in reincarnation, I would think Fatty Black was a spinster in another life or just past kitten-bearing age. She came one winter night. I fed her and placed a pillow in a basket and left her in the carport. Later, I had it torn down and a big garage built with a small room that she could occupy and swinging doors so she could go in and out easily.
She learned this amazing trick. My sun deck was outside a second-floor bedroom, and there was a tree a few feet beside it. When she realized I was there, she would climb the tree and jump over to the railing. Never overly affectionate, she would pass by my chair and allow me to rub her head briefly, and then she would crawl under the chair and I would hear her purring.
It was the most sincere compliment I’ve ever received.
The day she was so sick, I had a visitor coming, a widower from Manhattan, and when he got there, I told him I was on my way to see the vet. He agreed to come along, and we stood outside the theater in terrible heat waiting on Dr. G. who had a much longer drive than we had. The ticket seller who I knew only slightly came outside to ask what we were doing. I told her, and she invited us to come into the air-conditioned lobby to wait. We saw the manager approach her and realized she was explaining why a couple holding a sick cat were there. He glanced over and nodded.
My friend was so impressed. He said, “No one in New York would do that.”
When Dr. Goldberg arrived and I delivered my listless, ailing friend, he picked her up and the moment he did, she began to purr. She knew she was in a helping friend’s care.
So I will always remember you, Dr. Goldberg, with affection and respect.
And as far as doctors who have treated the two-legged members of my family and me, I send regards and respect to Dr. Hardie Sorrels and Dr. Robert Woods.
They have both been exceptional.
Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at [email protected]