From the Edmonds Vet: Travels with Charlize, in search of living alone

Charlize playing in some leftover snow in Denver.

By Dr. David Gross

Part 21: Denver, then and now

While driving in San Diego, Phoenix, and now in Denver I can hear my own voice speaking aloud, but it is as though I am out of body, separated but close enough to hear clearly. I sound like just another old geezer, complaining that everything has changed and not for the better. All this growth is not progress, is it?

I have a good friend in Denver, actually in Littleton. His name is also Charley but without the weird spelling. I’ve known him since 1954. We were on the swimming team at what was then Colorado A & M and became Colorado State University while we were still in attendance. On road trips we were roommates. We also both got into veterinary school the same year so we are classmates as well, another example of the comfort and pleasure of old friends.

Charlize and I arrived in Denver and spent three days and nights with Charley and his wonderful wife Jean. It was therapeutic. Charley is a natural politician. He remembers names. Names of those he meets, names of their spouses, names of their kids and he actually cares when he asks how they are all doing. During my stay we never went anyplace where he didn’t run into several people he knew and he always took the time to greet them. In every restaurant we went into, the cute young servers and host or hostesses knew him by sight and came over to give him a hug and greet him, and he immediately connected with each of them. I know he works hard at it, but the true gift is that he cares enough to do it. Charley’s grandfather was the king maker of Colorado politics in the 1930s and 40s, maybe longer. I guess that’s where my friend comes by this talent.

I woke up very early on the day we left Denver, well ahead of the predicted snowstorm. We were on the road by 4:30 a.m. Charlize and I were very comfortable driving after the three-day hiatus, so we pressed on all day and into the evening, avoiding the storm by driving north and west. We arrived at the home of another classmate in Nampa, Idaho about 8 in the evening. A long, satisfying day, and Charlize and I were warmly welcomed. We spent the evening and more than half the next day visiting and catching up. All of these friends had just seen Rosalie the previous October and were surprised and saddened by her passing. She put up such a brave front when we were last all together.

Both Charley and my Nampa classmate, Lionel, built hugely successful equine veterinary practices that have now been taken over by veterinarians that they originally hired as associates then took in as partners. Both of the practices provide specialized veterinary care for their own clients and for even more referred to them by other veterinarians for their special expertise.

I am very proud of all of my classmates. They have made significant contributions to society and to the profession. At least six of us ended up in academia, teaching the next generations of veterinarians. Charley was president of the AAEP, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and another classmate was president of the AVMA; many served at presidents of their local AVMA chapters and went on to more responsible positions at the regional level. All those who went into practice were successful and provided professional and state-of-the-art veterinary care for their patients and their clients.

When I questioned these friends about being in our 70s, none of us think we feel or think differently than we did just out of school. We do all have the aches and pains and most of us are gimping around. The revelation is looking in the mirror.

After his losing his wife of 52 years to cancer, Dr. David Gross has embarked on an extended road trip with his new dog, Charlize, and is writing about his experiences.

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