Since we last spoke, I was transported to the hospital by ambulance for a combination of complications too numerous and insignificant to mention.

You can learn almost as much in a hospital as you can by reading Facebook.

At 86, it soon became obvious that I see the world differently than the wonderful professionals who took care of me. Some of them were young enough to be my great-grandchildren. Great-great grandchildren if I’d been born on one of the islands. I was somewhat shocked to learn that many of the older doctors got their degrees in the 1990s. And thank goodness for the old experienced Maine nurses. One, who could have been mentored by Florence Nightingale, was rushed into my room by a young RN from California who thought a delirious patient was speaking in an incoherent tongue.

The older woman said, “I see you’ve finally met humble.”

Warranting mention here is an exchange I had with a wonderful caring and knowledgeable young man. He said something about just moving to Maine and buying a house. (I asked many of the young folk from away how they had managed to find housing. The general consensus was that it was wicked hard.)

I told the young RN that when I was about his age I had also bought my first house here, and I asked him if he could guess how much I paid for a furnished house on an acre of land with a garage.


Far from being a fool, he realized that when I was his age, houses on the coast of Maine were probably hand hewn from logs, So he said, “60 thousand.”

You know well that my first house cost $5,000. Kids have no idea …

Another good thing about being in a hospital is that you can legally be kept high on drugs that wipe away clouds and shadows and let you think clearly. Do you realize that one of the benefits of being old is that when you are coughing, coughing, coughing and can’t stop, you can at least take out your hearing aids so you don’t have to listen to it?

I already knew more than I wanted about nurses. Years ago, as a very green entertainer, I stood before a bevy of nurses in Belfast. Unsure of what to do, I started to take off my tie and in a gravelly voice said, “I’ve been asked to entertain you today as a male stripper.”

One of those unkind old nurses got up as if to leave and said, “They couldn’t have had much of a budget.”

While in the hospital a weathered old veteran told me it was the first time she’d ever seen a man with more hair in his ears than he had on his legs.


She couldn’t let it go but had to milk the line by adding that there are not enough shrinks who could remove that image from her mind. After 20 or 30 years on the job, they probably have an entire repertoire of clever remarks, geared to the age and sex of the captive audience.

They spout aphorisms. When I told one I couldn’t see her, she said, “There are none so blind as those who have waited five months to have their cataract surgery.”

You have heard of frightened soldiers making promises on the battlefield about the drastic changes they’d make in their lives if they ever got home again – and you might know that the same thing can happen to you if you are wired with tubes to a hospital bed. I said that if I ever got home again I would jump motorcycles as Feeble Knievel.

On the downside, it is disconcerting to learn that the man in the next room was proclaimed sound and sent home the month before, only to return for cardiac surgery when he got the bill.

The warm welcome a Maine man gets when he comes home from the hospital makes his suffering almost worthwhile: “Will you take the windows and screens out of the upstairs windows and bring them down so I can wash them?”

“My dear. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and stayed there for three days. The doctors are hesitant to operate because of my age and physical condition and they are hoping to control the problem with nasty antibiotic pills which I’ll be eating for a week – I was in the hospital.”


“But you’ve been home for two days.”

“Not one of the wonderful people at the hospital asked me to do anything. They were all so kind.”

And Marsha, The Almost Perfect woman sighed and said, “But they get paid.”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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