Mind Over Miller: Things change, appreciation remains


November! It brings the most beautiful of American holidays, Thanksgiving.

This column appeared in the November 1978 issue of Veterinary Medicine and again in November 2002. In it, I expressed thankfulness for many things in life.

Since the column first ran, one of my three partners has passed on. The other two, like me, have retired from full-time practice and are pursuing other interests. Mary Tuttle is gone, too. She retired five years after the column was published and died many years later. My parents have also passed on, both living until 85 years of age, enjoying every day of their lives to the end. My children are now grown, and Debby and I have two grandchildren—the light of our lives.

I still love my dear wife, my profession, snow skiing, and the good family values I was instilled with. And my gratitude for all the blessings I described in the column has not changed. It's been a wonderful life.

November! It brings the most beautiful of American holidays, Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, holidays become corrupted, and, too often, their meaning is lost in the celebration. Thus, Independence Day now means fireworks displays, Memorial Day is commemorated with automobile races, and Christmas has become a spending spree. Thanksgiving, however, has retained most of its traditional values. It is a day that means home and family and thankfulness for the bounty of our land. The traditional ingredients of the Thanksgiving feast remind us of our heritage, of a land that harbored enormous wealth, of the suffering and hardships our forebears went through to wrest that wealth from the land.

I am fortunate enough to have this column as a means of personal expression. So I choose to use it, this month, as a vehicle of appreciation, preceded by my thanks to Veterinary Medicine, for asking me to write this column and accepting most of the diverse writings I have submitted.

Thanks to my colleagues who write to support (and sometimes disagree with) the concepts I express. I apologize for not answering each of you personally, but I am a practitioner, and you all know how long and wearying the working hours are.

Thanks to my partners, Drs. Bob Kind, Jim Peddie, and Larry Dresher. The warmth and trust we share are among the good things in my life.

Thanks to the other fine veterinarians in my practice and to the wonderful staff of assistants we have.

Special thanks to Mary Tuttle. She manages the entire practice, supervising a staff of more than 30 people. Thank you, Mary. Knowing you has been a privilege. You reinforce one's faith in humanity.

Thanks to my wife. I know that no current comforts and no future luxuries will ever fully compensate for the times I wasn't there—for the nights I was gone attending patients, for the weekends I was making calls while other husbands were home, for the dinners that got cold while I worked, and worked, and worked.

Thanks to my children. They light up my life.

Thanks to all my patients. Knowing them has given me insight into the behavioral eccentricities of those other animals, their owners.

Thanks to whoever or whatever inspired me to seek admission to this wonderful veterinary profession. It was the most important decision of my life.

Thanks for snow, because skiing is the most important of my frivolous activities, and to the good friends in our veterinary ski club with whom Debby and I have shared so many great runs and magnificent vistas.

Thank you Mother and Dad for bestowing upon me the most precious of life's treasures, a wholesome set of values, and for raising me with my head screwed on right.

Thanks to my grandparents for making the terrifying decision to leave their native lands and immigrate to these United States. Filled with human faults, it is still the world's strongest bastion of liberty, individual human rights, and capitalism. This nation, powered by its hybrid vigor and immigrant energy, will undoubtedly continue to thrive.

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at www.robertmmiller.com.

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