I've been thinking a lot about my grandfather this week. My sister and I called him "PopPop". I don't even remember how that started. I guess one of our older cousins couldn't say Grandpa or Papa and it came out PopPop. Anyway...
He's been coming to mind because I just moved into my very own office earlier this week. I'm not sharing office space anymore. So super excited about that and that it happened much faster than I thought it would. But it's also a little scary.
Lately, I've been thinking about how PopPop must have felt back in the early 1930s setting up his first office. I wonder if he worried about where the patients would come from and if it would be enough to support my grandmother, my father, and my uncle.
Those were the times when segregation was still the law of the land. Even though they lived in the northern state of New Jersey, only other African American families would seek the services of an African American doctor. Even my father ran into that same issue establishing his practice in the late 1970s.
Somehow he made it work. By the time I was a little kid, my grandfather had been practicing medicine for almost 50 years – in private practice. He would tell my sister and I stories of how in the early days some families would pay his fee in a chicken casserole, eggs, or a baked cake. While it didn't pay the bills, I suppose it did help feed the family. Crazy though, right?
So the times when I've gotten nervous and wondered if my own private practice will grow enough to support my family, I think about PopPop. My grandfather overcame greater obstacles than my own to become a doctor and build a successful private practice. He wound up not only supporting his family, buying not one home but two, cars and boats without loans, and put both my father and uncle through medical school. Wow!
Caring for the health of others is in my blood, my very DNA I suppose. I'm proud of that fact. While traditional medicine was not my path, I found my way in complementary medicine and derive the same sense of fulfillment and purpose in working with my clients as my great-grandfather, grandfather did and my father still does in working with their patients.
When you visit my office now, be sure to take a look over on my desk. There is a picture of my grandfather – Dr. Robert Jewitt Jenkins, standing next to his car, holding his doctor bag on his way to a house call. That picture serves as a reminder to me to do my best. Be a caring professional, help others, never stop learning, and give the best service possible. That is also my enduring promise to you!
I'm curious, who inspires you to be your best?