Dr. Henderson is going to court today. He is wearing a suit and tie, which is not odd, but he is not wearing his white coat, which is very strange for him. If he were asked he would admit he feels almost naked going out in public without one. Later he will laugh about this with his wife because of course no one asks about it.
People outside of a hospital don't ask doctors about how they feel. They are only curious about how they feel. Occupational hazard.
Dr. Henderson is going to court with his nephew, Dewayne, who is 35 and disabled. The medical files, which he has read and reread a hundred times, are under his arm. The reports say he has Down's syndrome, a poor heart and multiple other small medical issues that The State likes to call "risk factors" The risk factors are why they think Dewayne needs a guardian and his mother (Dr.Henderson's sister) is pretty sick herself and in no shape emotionally to do the job (his opinion- that part is not in the files anywhere).
His nephew lives in a local group home and it appears that it is a good place for him. The first two places were failures, unsupervised and in bad neighborhoods, he was robbed and locked out several times. He has been at this home for six years now and finally- success. He likes the staff, they like him and they have a van that gets him to and from the sheltered workshop. He has a schedule he knows by heart and he has been there long enough he is now the Unofficial welcoming committee for new residents:
"I get to 'splain to people what we do here- they let me show the peoples around"
Dr. Henderson called the home yesterday to remind them to get Dewayne ready and to make sure he was dressed for court. He has a nice shirt and a jacket, but does not have a tie. He hates ties and makes small choking noises on the occasions (pictures, weddings, etc) when his family has insisted he wear one. Dewayne is also wearing dress paints and new tennis shoes.
"I'm dressed up and ready to talk to people, right ?"
Dr. Henderson tells him Right. Dewayne is so upbeat and naive it sorta breaks the Doctor's heart. Sorta, because he knows that the hearing is about taking away most of his nephew's legal rights in exchange for legal supervision and support. But he is a practical person, Dr. Henderson, and now that he knows that the state won't be the guardian and his sister can't do it- he knows it is his duty. Dr. Henderson has a firm idea of right and wrong and ethics. He has told this speech to himself more than once.
On the steps outside the courthouse Dwayne is introduced to his attorney for the fourth time. He does not remember talking to him before. The county provides Dewayne a public defender to represent his side in court. It is perfunctory only.
The attorney shakes his hand then Dr. Henderson's hand as well- the attorney looks at the doctor and they exchange head nods as if to say-- "yes, we are here for a difficult and necessary thing"
Then they they all walk inside.