'Enjoy the retirement,' Dr. Winit

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By Calen McKinney

A sign you are getting older - your pediatrician retires.

Like many other now 20-somethings in this community, I faithfully went to see "Dr. Winit" for all of my childhood ailments.

As I was growing up, I remember Dr. Winit's kind words made me - and my parents - genuinely feel better about whatever illness I had.

I will never forget how Dr. Winit pronounces my first name and one of several signature phrases he repeatedly told us during our visits - "Enjoy the baby."

My frequent diagnosis was often minor but he took his time giving my parents directions on how to treat my illness.

As a reporter, it's our duty to be objective.

When we learned that Dr. Winit was retiring, I was secretly preparing to thumb wrestle our other reporters for the chance to do the interview and write the story. Only kidding ... well, sort of.

I wanted to know more about Dr. Winit other than how he cared for me until I was too old for him to.

I also wanted to follow him for a little while, to see him interact with patients and have a final memory of him in that context.

He was, as I had expected, reluctant to do the interview. Those of you who know Dr. Winit know he is the definition of humble.

We did the interview - quickly - so he could get back to his patients.

"I have a lot to do today," he said, with his signature smile.

I followed him around for a while, taking mental notes of how the office hasn't changed in my nearly 27-year memory of it.

The smell - hand sanitizer and baby powder - is still the same. The phone still rings a lot and the children still light up when they see Dr. Winit's face.

Although Dr. Winit is a bit grayer now than he was in the 1980s, his bedside manner hasn't changed.

I remembered playing in the "well" waiting room and also miserably lying in my mother's lap while in the "sick" waiting room.

I remembered seeing a collage of all the framed photos of Dr. Winit's patients hanging on the wall. I'm sure mine was there at some point.

I remembered getting a lollipop each time I left the office ... if I had been good.

I remembered wondering when I would see Dr. Winit again ... isn't that strange?

I remembered how Dr. Winit called us at home occasionally to check on me and how much that meant to my first-time parents.

I also remembered hoping, as I got older and my years with Dr. Winit as a doctor were becoming numbered, that he would decide to open a general practice and I could continue going to him whenever I was sick.

I saw and felt all of this and more as I observed Dr. Winit's final day in his practice. I spoke to some of the parents who faithfully trusted their children to Dr. Winit's care. Many were surprised and even upset to find out he was retiring.

Not to my surprise, he hadn't told them he was retiring. But he did ask them to trust the new doctors.

"Give them a chance," he said, with his accent. "They're good doctors."

And then he said another one of his signature phrases, one that made me sad and proud to have been Dr. Winit's patient, "Thank you for trusting me to take care of your children."

Thank you, Dr. Winit, and enjoy your retirement. We'll miss you.