My sons' pediatrician died this week. Dr. Ken Keer was a tall, slender man with a light grey beard and a deep, resonant voice. He may have been big, but he never intimidated his tiny patients.
I know most of you never knew Dr. Keer and so are likely wondering why I decided to write something about him. I guess, it's because I've had many personal doctors in my life. You move around a lot in TV, so another job, meant another doctor. I was never sentimental.
But Dr. Keer wasn't my doctor; he was the one I relied on to keep my sons' health. And, after more than a dozen years of Dr. Keer's care it's hard for me to process he's no longer the one to call when I'm worried about one of my children.
He took care of my eldest since he was a toddler and he did my youngest's first exam, right after his birth. Dr. Keer assuaged my concerns and fears through issues as benign as a skin infection to as puzzling as ADD. He was also the kind of old school doctor who never rushed the appointment.
When my children were old enough to have questions of their own, he would politely ask me to leave the exam room, to address whatever it was that was bothering my son. One of my sons hated the annual vaccinations, even the finger prick for a blood sample was high drama. But this doctor wasn't one to tell my boy to "man up" or some such macho nonsense. Instead he tried to distract him, he told him not to watch the needle go into his arm and when that wasn't enough to calm the fear, he and my son talked about what would make it easier. That time they decided to try a spray to chill and numb the skin.
More than once, I remember going in with one child or both and after the exams, he'd turn to me and ask how I was doing. It wasn't polite conversation. He was sincerely interested, maybe even concerned. (When the boys were younger, I definitely looked haggard. Too much to do, chasing a toddler, getting the older one to school and working late nights. Lots of lost sleep.)
So, now what am I to do? Sure, I'll find another pediatrician. Who ever it is can pore of my son's charts and see his medical history. But now, that Dr. Keer is gone, it won't be a shared history. I'll be sad and sentimental that my little baby is now taller and heavier than I am. I'll be even sadder still, that I won't be able to commiserate with Dr. Ken Keer.
Dr. Ken Keer died February 9, 2014. He leaves behind his wife Franny, his six children and five grandkids.