Sentimental memoir recounts how the author abandoned a promising legal career in Washington, D.C., to help with her father’s family medical practice.
When her mother was hospitalized for cardiac distress, U.S. Senate Counsel Jourdan headed back to her hometown in East Tennessee. She imagined she’d be subbing as Daddy’s receptionist for just a few days, until Momma was well again. At least she hoped so, since running Dr. Jourdan’s busy medical office (the only one for many miles in this rural area) was quite overwhelming. Not only did the author have to answer constantly ringing phones and fill out a mountain of Medicare paperwork, she had to register and triage the nutty locals who filed in all day with ailments ranging from aching backs, sore throats and creaky joints to smoker’s lungs and anaphylactic shock. This motley parade of mostly elderly patients provided a daily dose of running gags. One of the tiny, aged Hankins sisters accidentally stood on the pedal that operated Dr. Jourdan’s motorized table, nearly breaking it and dumping her Alzheimer’s-addled friend Miss Viola on the floor. Drunken Harley Hawkins got a gash on his head while taking a joy ride on a lawnmower. Matthew DeHaven III had a goat that needed to be X-rayed. And so on. Meanwhile, Mrs. Jourdan came home, but seemed too disoriented to return to the office. The seasons turned, and the author stayed on. Was she hiding from her real life, as she suggested to an old friend of her father’s? Or was she dedicating herself to real public service rather than the mere idea of it?
Jourdan’s narrative is elliptical, the details fuzzy and the portraits sketchy; her parents in particular remain enigmatic and emotionally aloof.