It was a bright sunny day in Melbourne. My veterinary clinic was quiet. My receptionist was on her lunch break. And I was reading a veterinary magazine.
Suddenly the doorbell shattered the silence. At the entrance was a highly agitated forty-something, Mediterranean-looking man. I invited him in.
He came in with his dog, an old, rustic male Australian terrier and, introduced himself as Paul . He explained that his dog had a tumour on the tail and was very concerned. I began taking down his details surname, address, and telephone number and then directed him to the consulting room where I prepared to examine the dog’s tumour.
After thorough examination of his dog, the tumour I located on the base of his tail convinced me that it was not a tumour. I explained to the gentleman that this was no tumour; he should not be concerned about cancer. I further explained the problem to be flea related, and the dog was causing the damage to the tail by biting. The flea irritation and his biting made the swelling and caused a lump. I explained to the owner that a regular monthly treatment to kill fleas was the way to treat the swelling.
Then he complained that his dog was suffering from arthritis and having difficulties during the morning walk. I began to examine the hip, knee, and his back areas while doing so I explained to the owner that I could not say anything conclusively without further examination such as an X-ray. I advised the client to return in a week’s time and to make sure that his dog fasted the morning before dropping off his dog for the X-rays. I also explained that a general anaesthesia would be needed.
Then Paul opened up and talked non-stop about his day-to-day problems like his lack of sleep, long hours of work and driving to the city during peak hours etc. I couldn’t be indifferent to his complaint and reluctantly enquired about his problems. He complained of little sleep after coming home from work. Besides, he had two young children to take care of during the day time. The elder baby was one and half years old and the younger six months old, both requiring his constant attention throughout the day.
I was reluctant to get involved in my client’s personal life. I looked away from him trying to change the subject. Paul was very open and continued to tell me his stories of wretchedness and he would not stop his tale of woes. Sadly, he told me of his young wife who was suffering from cancer and was hospitalised as a patient at Monash hospital. Along with caring for his young children, he had to be strong for his wife. While expressing my sympathies for his situation, we both left the consulting room. He paid my consulting fee by a cheque and left the clinic.
Two weeks had passed. I received a letter in the mail with the Paul’s cheque, informing me that the account was closed. I passed the information to my receptionist and asked her to contact the client and inquire as to why the cheque bounced. I left it in my receptionist’s hands and went for lunch.
My receptionist was quick to announce the results of her inquiry when I returned. I couldn’t believe my ears. When she contacted the client on the phone she was told by his wife that he has had a heart attack and passed away a few days earlier. As per banking rules his bank account had been closed. There is no profit for Banks in dealing with the dead.
My receptionist had offered her deepest sympathies to the widow.
I know that some of my clients face many misfortunes. I’ve also read about such cases in books. But when death comes on top of misfortunes you begin to wonder whether it brought him relief or whether he would have preferred to carry on with no end in sight for his condition.
I guess he was happy to close his life like the way the Bank closed his account.