Mr. Smith Was My Father



I responded to a blog post comment the other day, and signed the response “Greg”. It was a heartfelt response, one that I felt needed to be from me as a person, not me as a doctor or writer or blogger or professional person. Just from me.

Another commenter noticed that and said something about what it must have been like to sign something with my name, and not “Dr. Smith”.

That made me think.

We sometimes use different parts of ourselves, different facets of our personalities, and even different names to interact with others as we move through the world.

We might put on the mother or father hat in the morning when getting our children ready for school, shouldering the respect due us as authorities in the early morning sunlight. By midmorning, kids long since gone out the door and us in our offices or cubicles somewhere across town or even in another city, we wear the professional mantle that marks us as bosses or partners or worker bees, slipping on those roles as easily as we don a familiar, slightly stretched knitted sweater.

By afternoon, we slide out of those warm garments and slip back out into the world, the easy weight of the workaday world behind us, and the coming dusk greying us and softening us around the edges. We are partner, friend, lover, and that takes us easily into the coming evening, deepening the world’s hold on us, drawing us back into the warm circles of light that begin to dot the landscape, as welcome as the blinking glow of fireflies on a summer’s night.

We are different then, somehow, with fewer connections, stronger, lasting or not, intense and white-hot as a welder’s flame, binding as a fetter and sharp as a steel blade.

Gregory E. Smith MD

Dr. Gregory E. Smith.

Dr. Gregory Smith.

Dr. Smith.

Dr. Gregory.




I am all of these.

They describe me clinically. They define me professionally. They mark me.  They allow others to connect with me, or to keep a safe professional distance.

Sometimes they choose.

Sometimes I choose.


Who are you?

What do people call you?