A couple of months ago, I was casually opening the mail and one letter sure did surprise me.
My reaction made Toby wonder if somebody had died or an equal calamity was befalling us. I quickly replied, “Our doctor is retiring.”
“Which doctor?” he asked.
“Dr. Bremer,” I said.
Suddenly, I felt like I was losing my best friend.
Dr. Richard Bremer, whose office has been at 20 North Main St. in AuSable Forks for the past 39 years, decided to hang up his stethoscope for a quieter life. A few days later, I had an appointment at his office.
It occurred to me that I didn’t know that much about this man with whom I trusted my health care — other than repeatedly reading the multiple degrees and certificates on the wall — so I asked.
He said he was born in Pennsylvania, served in the Army and lived in Panama. He received a list of places to set up a practice, including Alaska, Alabama, northern New York and many more. After considering all the options, he and his wife, Connie, drove to the Adirondacks. They fell in love with the beauty of the mountains and the lakes.
“It was a beautiful day in May,” he said. “The sky was blue and there were a few puffy clouds. I couldn’t believe it.”
They chose the Adirondacks, and the community embraced him and his family. So did black flies, subzero cold and huge snowstorms.
One of his patients said the Adirondack weather is like Little Miss Muffett — when it’s good, it’s very, very good, and when it’s bad, it’s horrid. Looking back, he said he wishes he had asked about how many days the sun shines here and the tax base.
The rest is history, as they say. He set up his practice in the Town of Black Brook office building. Nothing complicated or fancy, but that’s the way of this doctor.
On my first visit to Dr. Bremer, I was waiting for a nurse to check me in, take my blood pressure and interview me before seeing the doctor.
Not at this office. He came to the waiting room door, told me which examination room to head to, took my vitals and continued with my office visit.
The first blood draw, I was expecting a referral to a nearby lab. Not Dr. Bremer. He found a vein the first stick with little discomfort, and every time thereafter. He said he’d had 40 years of practice.
I called him an old-fashioned doctor, because I hadn’t had that type of care since I was a kid going to Dr. Stamitiades in Brushton.
Dr. Bremer is the only doctor my husband trusts enough to tell his ailments to, knowing he’ll get solid advice.
One he liked in particular, when he had back pain a few years ago. Dr. Bremer told him, “You’re getting to be an old guy. You need to let Susan cut the wood and mow the lawn.”
For 30 of the past 39 years, Dr. Bremer has had Lynn Frenia in the receptionist’s chair. Her smile and pleasant personality made you feel better, no matter what the illness. I know there were a few other receptionists that also were very welcoming but, in my opinion, Lynn takes the “Receptionist of the Last Three Decades” award.
With four children living in three states, the Bremers plan to do some traveling, but mostly will enjoy ignoring the clock.
Dr. Bremer summed it up.
“I’ve had a unique practice and my patients are like friends; I know what they like, where they enjoy vacations, and some cases, their grandchildren. I’m one of a dying breed but I’m 70 and it’s time to take another direction. I’ll miss the people but I won’t miss the clock.”
So Toby and I are looking for a new family doctor, “country style” like Dr. Bremer. After all, Toby and I are just a couple of country folk.
Dr. Bremer, I think we are both going the way of the dinosaurs but we thank you for such wonderful care and dedication. Enjoy.
One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.
Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at email@example.com.