In addition to three gifts, the citizens of Winter had found a dreadful cold. Many of us had visited Doc Blue–his kindness and his dog Charley were both restorative. My granddaughter had seen him recently, and soon it was my turn. As he examined me, the doctor confessed.
“Everyone seems sedentary. Suffering,” he sighed. “I should be fulfilled by helping, but… it’s been a difficult year.” He held up a tongue depressor, but my friend was the one depressed. “Open wide. Say ahhh…”
I did as instructed, but inside I grieved for us both over the loss of my daughter and son-in-law. The accident had touched all of us in Winter, but I knew Doc Blue felt it more than most. He had been unable to save them.
After listening to my heart, he said, “I need a winter getaway. …to just scram… but who would look after Charley?” The dog’s tail thumped happily upon hearing his name.
That night, I later heard, Doc Blue found the fourth gift at his door.
As he and his dog settled by their fire, Doc Blue unwrapped it. A book. Travels with Charley–John Steinbeck’s adventures in America with his dog. Imagine Doc Blue’s delight discovering Charley could join him.
Then Doc Blue saw the stamp on the book. Winter Public Library. Was Miss Paige the giver? Doc Blue, and all of us, soon discovered it was not the librarian. It turned out he, too, benefited from the fifth gift.