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A Piece of My Mind
November 24, 2010

A Modern Family

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2010;304(20):2221-2222. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1709

I first met Joe on the 13th floor of an inner-city hospital. He was lying comfortably in his hospital bed, granted refuge as an unassigned medical admission for chest pain the night before by the inpatient team. Joe was a 73-year-old white man with uncombed hair, bushy eyebrows, and a severely stooped posture noticeable even as he sat upright in the bed. He had a gravelly voice—from years of smoking, I soon learned. On the chair beside him were his clothes, which were worn well beyond their life expectancy. Joe looked like someone who had worked hard all his life and appeared much older than his actual age. Aside from his appearance, I was struck by the tattered text by his bedside. It was an old edition of Age of Enlightenment, with “Enoch Pratt Library” stamped on the first page.

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