“Hey Red!”

It has only taken me 71 years…..

Growing up in the 50s in New Jersey, I always stood out as the pale-skinned redhead.  Even though I used to get compliments all the time from my mother’s friends, I hated it. 

“Hey, Red!” is how people would always call me.  They wouldn’t have to remember my name since the most easily identifying feature was the color of my hair. 

Being so pale, I was very prone to getting sunburned. From the time I was a very little boy, I can remember the painful blisters on my back and shoulders when I didn’t follow my parents’ advice to limit my sun exposure.  

I can remember those painful blisters!

Yes, I was that kid in the swimming pool wearing the white T-shirt.  I hated that too, but it conditioned me to being much more of an indoor kid than an outdoor person.  You can’t get sunburned very easily when you’re inside practicing for your weekly piano lesson. 

Now that I’m a retired senior citizen, the red curls have faded and I don’t get called “Red” anymore. 

Unfortunately, as a young adult, I was excessively cautious of the sun.  I would hardly ever wear shorts and I pretty much stayed inside.  As I got older, however, I realized that I enjoyed outdoor activities like kayaking and tennis. But I can still hear my mother reminding me not to forget my hat.

In Florida, where it often gets up to the mid-90s by the middle of the morning, our outdoor routine has been confined to the early mornings and early evenings.  Late in the day, as the sun starts to set, the temperature drops a few degrees and we are thankful that it goes down to the mid-80s. 

For the past 20 years, my wife, Meryl, has been trying to get me to go swimming in our neighborhood pool.   I had every excuse under the sun (pardon the pun) for why I didn’t want to expose myself. 

But finally this summer, I agreed to go early in the morning to the pool which is an easy five-minute walk along the lake. Occasionally there is another person there but most of the time we have this gorgeous pool to ourselves.

Our empty community pool early in the morning

Last week, since the pool was closed for repairs, we decided to go to our favorite beach.  It is only 20 minutes away and at this time of year if you arrive early enough, you’re guaranteed a parking space.  Just after sunrise, there are some serious walkers and joggers, and even an occasional person doing Tai Chi. 

We enjoyed watching the Tai Chi on the beach.

The water temperature is in now the mid-80s. With the air temperature up in the same range, it is delightful!  Sometimes there can be an overgrowth of seaweed, and other times, a mild riptide reminds you to be extra careful.

But yesterday, the conditions were absolutely perfect!  The sunrise was beautiful, the cloud formations were amazing and the humidity was a bit lower than usual.

As is often the case in Florida during the summer, it suddenly started to rain. We were in the water at a depth of about three feet when the raindrops appeared to be dancing on the surface.  Just beyond the trees on the shore, a double rainbow appeared, arcing over the whole western sky. 

The rainbow was magical!

The experience of luxuriating in the warm water combined with the sound and sight of the rain was very powerful.  We couldn’t remember when we had ever enjoyed ourselves as much at the beach.

It has only taken me 71 years to appreciate what we have!

My wife, who used to say that the Florida summer heat was “oppressive,” has changed her tune completely.  She now gets me out of the house early enough so that we can take advantage of what Florida offers us at no cost.

And when I think that it took me this long to enjoy swimming in the pool or the ocean, I laugh at myself.  I guess it’s never too late to appreciate what we have so close to home!

Our beach, only twenty minutes from home.

My bio

Welcome to SincerelyDrDan.com, my blog which I began to publish online in November 2020.  

I am Dan Kraft, AKA Dr. Dan. I am a retired pediatrician in Lake Worth, Florida where I have lived since 1980. 

I was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1950, the second child to first- generation Americans who also grew up in northern New Jersey.  When I was only two years old, my parents moved to the suburban town of Verona where I lived and enjoyed excellent public schools before going to college. 

I attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia before going to medical school at Rutgers Medical School in New Jersey for two years.  I then transferred to the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine where I graduated in 1975.  My pediatrics residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine was followed by two years in Baltimore where I attended the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  I received a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health in 1980.  

A job opportunity brought me to Florida.  In 1981, I opened my first pediatric office which eventually became Palm Beach Pediatrics. When I retired in 2014, our practice had 8 doctors and 8 pediatric nurse practitioners working in three offices.  

My “home” for 35 years

I truly loved my work. Those were the “glory days” of being a doctor.  With its very diverse population base, Palm Beach County was a wonderful place to practice medicine. Our loyal and trusting patients appreciated the compassionate care and medical expertise that we provided.  Over the course of 35 years, I witnessed the growth of South Florida.  I still laugh when I remember how many people questioned how I would survive as a pediatrician in an area known for its large retirement population.   Thankfully throughout my career, there was a steady influx of young families.  Over the years, I became an integral part of several generations of families.  I was fortunate to surround myself with excellent and supportive colleagues in my growing practice.  

I decided to write this blog because I always felt that I had so many stories to tell.  Some come from my career as a pediatrician. Since in my later years, my wife, Meryl, and I have had the opportunity to travel extensively, other stories come from my observations during our trips.  Many of the stories that I will share with you simply come from my experiences with the joys and sorrows of life itself.  

You will see that gratitude is a central theme in many of my stories.  I have always believed in “paying it forward.”  From the academic scholarships that I received to the many opportunities to work and travel abroad, I am very thankful.  These experiences have broadened my view of the world and have made me a more appreciative person.  I have learned to utilize my inner resilience which enabled me to accept and survive some of the darker moments of my life. 

To the patients, friends and family members who encouraged me and helped me to become the doctor I always wanted to be, I dedicate this blog.  I sincerely appreciate the very fulfilling career you gave me.  I also thank my wife Meryl for the happiness, genuine partnership and security that she has given me for more than twenty years. 

Please send me your feedback to: dpkmd3@gmail.com  

In the future, I will feature other human interest stories by guest authors. 

Sincerely, Dr. Dan will be a bilingual blog. My friends in my Spanish and French conversation groups are always seeking interesting reading material , so I decided to start a fully English/Spanish blog from the beginning. Who knows where it will go? Maybe even a few more languages in the future!?  For now, it’s just English and Spanish, but you can use the Google Translate option in the sidebar for any other listed language.

Sincerely, Dr. Dan será un blog bilingüe. Mis amigos en mi grupo de conversación en español siempre están buscando material de lectura interesante tanto en español como en inglés, así que decidí comenzar un blog completamente en inglés / español desde el principio. ¿Quién sabe adónde irá? ¿¡Quizás incluso algunos idiomas más en el futuro !?  Por ahora, es solo inglés y español, pero puede usar la opción Google Translate en la barra lateral para cualquier otro idioma de la lista.


Dr. Dan