Dr. Joe Roberts

My dentist Dr. Bob Roberts, the most competent dentist, was also an M.D. and an unusual, wonderful man.

Politically a leftist, we spent a lot of time talking about politics.

The moment I asked what I owed him, he looked at his watch.

“Morrie, I’ve got a patient waiting,” and he rushed me out of the office with the words, “You’ll pay me the next time.”

On the way out, I stopped to write a check for $100 and handed it to the secretary. She grabbed my hand.

“Thanks, Morrie, we need the money.”

I was told by a common friend that he died recently (my guess is that he was in his 80s).

With his attitude about money, I often wondered how he paid his home and office rent.

I once met his wife in a market.

I walked over to her and said, “Nice to see you.”

Startled, she looked at me.

“Morrie Markoff?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“You were one of Bob’s favorite patients.”

Loaded with purchases, after some brief conversation and with a wave to me, she was out the door.

We all meet some wonderful, unforgettable people in our life. 

Dr. Joe Roberts was one of them.

* * *

My dental problems ended the moment my dentures were inserted in my mouth.

I’ve never had pain nor spent a dime on the teeth I don’t have.

I eat everything that doesn’t move.

To date, my dentures have been trouble free.

At the beginning, I would take them to my dentist for cleaning and polishing. It was a waste of time and money.

I do that myself every night.

I hope I have not bored you with my story of my teeth.

I will leave you with this message.

Take care of your teeth. Don’t let them ever become a money and time consuming problem.

Floss and brush them everyday (or night).

As perfect and carefree as my dentures have been, they will never be as good as natural teeth.

“Lecture over.”

Have a good day, or night.


(January 1, 2021

Don’t Puff, Puff, Puff That Cigarette

I was the last one in my gang to start smoking.

The first time I smoked a cigarette, I choked on the smoke. It didn’t taste or smell good. Smoking was not for me (or so I thought). Every time I tried it I coughed uncontrollably.

No one I know smokes. 

Many of my friends, heavy smokers, died of cancer I believe due to smoking.

I had lip cancer.

Fortunately, the cancer was at the edge of my tongue. My doctor took a “V” section of it in an office operation.

A few days later he called me.

“Morrie, you are a lucky guy. None of the surrounding tissue shows signs of cancer. I got it all out.”

That was a long time ago. To this date, there has not been a reoccurrence of the cancer (knock on wood).

My cancer was caused by smoking a pipe (and cigar and cigarettes).

* * *

I stopped smoking about 30 years ago. 

It wasn’t easy. Smoking is harder to give up than quitting opium or heroin. I tried giving up smoking several times without success.

I got up one morning, my tongue was sore. I had difficulty swallowing.

With Betty watching me, I went to my pipe rack and broke 10 pipes I had there.

“Morrie, are you crazy? Tomorrow you will be buying new ones.”

“I’ve had it,” I said. “This time I’m quitting for good,” and I did.

Being hooked on tobacco is not an easy habit to kick, but with determination and self-control, I did it.

Now, not only do I have a dislike for the smell of tobacco, I abhor the very thought of smoking. 

I stay away from people who smoke. A few breaths of smoke and I start coughing.

I never smoked again. My pockets no longer have packs of cigarettes or containers of tobacco. 

* * *

No one I know smokes.

Smoking is an expensive and unhealthy habit. 

Don’t do it.

Your teeth won’t need cleaning as often.

You won’t have a sour taste in your mouth.

You will be more kissable.

Please, no ifs, ands or “butts.”

So – don’t puff, puff, puff that cigarette.

Sooner or later, cancer you may get.

Don’t risk it.


(January 1, 2021)

And the Band Played On

Some people believe that bad things will not happen to them.

To other people, but not to them.

In spite of all the evidence, they do stupid and dangerous things.

In the midst of a raging epidemic, they leave their homes to do their chores without wearing masks.

I wonder, don’t they read the newspapers, don’t they watch CNN?

Don’t they think about what will happen to their families if they became a victim of the coronavirus disease?


I’m twisting and turning in my desk chair.

Looking straight ahead, with the long drapes halfway open, I see the high-rise office and apartment buildings.

I don’t see, but know, a subway is being built below me.

At the moment, nothing is moving.

In a few years, this area will have a different look.

Nothing stays the same. 

It’s called progress, unstoppable, it happens.

My body system has changed. 

I have the urge to go to the bathroom.

I go, but don’t “go.”

I’ve been sitting too long.

I have a desire to walk.

I get up to do so but my knees won’t hold me. 

I sit down.

I can’t and won’t complain.

I’m still functioning. 

It isn’t only an achievement, it’s a miracle.

Our bodies weren’t built to sit all day.

We need exercise.

In my apartment, I walk around the table at least five times before breakfast, as much as 10 times.

It tires me. It becomes a drag.

But so far, I’ve done it. How long?

Who knows. I’ll go with the flow.

(January 1, 2021)

The Plague

The news is not encouraging. 

The death toll keeps rising.

Precautions to avoid the plague are not believed or disregarded.

Medical personnel working 24/7 shifts, often victims themselves.

Self-sacrificing, brave, the best way humans can behave.

We are losing the war, the virus is winning, a foregone conclusion right from the beginning.

Help is beginning to appear. 

Some health workers and scientists say it will take at least a year.

Daily, meanwhile, people are dying.

Every beginning has an end and so too will this one.

How many lives the plague will have taken, too early to tell.

For sure, we will win, put this horror nightmare behind us.

Nothing but a sad memory.


(January 1, 2021)

Betsy My Love – Nothing Lasts Forever

I miss you, each day piles up on the other.

I look at my hands, they are not holding yours.

I felt something was missing, the back of them I was not kissing.

I wake up in the night to put my arms around you but you are not there.

Sleep evades me, I twist and I turn.

My memory clicks in reviewing the years we had together, our kids our travels, in clear or stormy weather, the 80 years we were together.

We didn’t always agree, the fault wasn’t you, it was me.

We only get one go around, live only one life, how lucky I was to have you as my wife. 

We proudly raised a family, they will be around.

We left footsteps behind they can easily follow. 

Our lives a guide to their future.

With smiles on our faces, when we leave this place, we set a good example

Perfect we are not, no one is, we did the best we could.

I wake up in the morning, look at your picture on the wall.

Memories “float by,” our travels together but … nothing lasts forever.

I love you.

(January 1, 2021)

Though I Have Dentures, I Can Still Bite.

I was swiveling in my desk chair, my eyes closed, thinking many thoughts.

Danny poked me and made writing motions.

I only write when I have the urge.

At this moment I don’t.

With the thoughts racing through my brain, perhaps I should.

For no reason, I was thinking about the parade I saw of lines of soldiers marching home from the war.

I was four years old and small for my age.

Some kind and aware viewer pushed me through the crowd and placed me in front of the line of viewers.

I witnessed a rite I have never forgotten.

Lines of wheelchair after wheelchair with legless men being pushed before me, the blaring martial music was at a defining level.

I never saw the end of the parade.

After hours of watching, this four year old was tired.

Silently, I left the cheering crowd and went to bed.

I saw sights I have never forgotten.

I have never been in a war.

In my pre-teens I was in many fights.

I almost killed a guy. At that time it would not have bothered me. I was defending myself.

I am not a passive person. When someone hits me, I hit back.

Only once, to my regret, did I start a fight.

Through the years I have berated myself.

What I did was wrong. I am no angel.

Later in life I became friends with some of the guys I fought with.

Though I was small, I was a good fighter.

A boxing ring professional once asked me to join his ring of fighters.

Don’t mess with me.

Though I have dentures, I can still bite.


(January 1, 2021)

A Camper’s Life Is For the Young.

Banging on the table I yelled, “Come and get it, breakfast is ready.”

I waved a paper over the frying bacon and eggs until the smell permeated our campsite.

Half awake, disheveled and hungry, they flocked to the table and started eating. Everybody was happy, who wouldn’t be?

Looking back on our lives, camping was one of our hardships and pleasures. 

Waking up to the smell of pine trees I will never forget, nor the doubts about our sanity.

I remember one night we were huddled around the embers of a campfire, shivering.

On the campsite next to us was a huge 45-foot trailer. With their curtains open, they were quite visible. With large slices of pizza in their hands, they were watching TV.

Betty said to me, “I wish I had a slice and were as warm as they are.”

I felt guilty. I put a blanket and my arm around her.

Do they get the smell of the pines? No.

Do they have to find a large site to park that monster? Yes.

On the road, they only get about seven miles to a gallon of gas. 

They have to pay more at the trailer parks. 

Pulling that monster is hard on their car’s transmission.

I don’t think I convinced her. Besides I also had some of her feelings.

Our last camping trip was to Bug Sur.

Judy and Steve reluctantly went with us.

They were developing other interests.

Judy missed her friends. Steve had developed a lifelong passion for coins, particularly rare and expensive ones.

Betty and I stopped camping.

A camper’s life is for the young.

(January 1, 2021)

Ruby (My Friend)

Rube you said it well.

On your wisdom I will dwell.

Every life is a story with beginning and end.

I was lucky to have you as a friend.

I think of my family, small but very close.

Of Judy, Steve and Jadwiga.

How lucky I have been.

Perhaps it’s ordained, a superior being watching over us.

No one with certainly knows.

My atheism fades the older I get.

Less sure of my younger beliefs.

Soon I will sleep, a deep sleep.

I’ve had a good life, with a wonderful wife.

A lucky man I have been.

Nothing lasts forever, it’s nature’s way.

Have a wonderful day, my friend.

Find peace, happiness until the end.

Good luck,


(January 1, 2021)