Rex Harris' Story
Sutter Solano Medical Center
His secret to a long life is rather simple. Rex Harris figures he is too “ornery” to go away anytime soon. A recliner in the living room of his son’s Vacaville house has become a throne for Harris, who has difficulty walking these days with his 93-year-old bones. A wheelchair is parked a few feet away.
His scepter is the remote control, which operates a massive flat-screen television. Modern technology baffles Harris, who remembers watching a small black-and-white set when he was a child in Indiana.
The television has become Harris’ constant companion now that Dr. Richard Zimmerman no longer makes house calls. Zimmerman passed away in June 2009 at age 84, 15 years after retiring from his Sutter Health practice. Zimmerman never actually called it quits, however. He continued to visit Harris and other Sutter Health patients who are homebound. Harris looked forward to Zimmerman knocking on the door. The two had much in common, including the gift for gab.
Harris counted on Zimmerman for much more than medical care. Whenever Zimmerman visited, it was as if a friend was visiting. “It was just like he lived here,” Harris says. “He spent a lot of time with me. He’d spend a whole hour here sometimes. He was a good talker. He’d just come over to chat. We would just gab.”
Zimmerman was also available whenever Harris had a medical concern. As Harris said, “He took care of me. I thought I was a goner a couple of times, but he always saved me.”