Friday, August 10, 2012

Brush-a, Brush-a, Brush-a...

"Some tortures are physical
And some are mental,
But the one that is both
Is dental."
~Ogden Nash

I know several people who feel this way.  I understand that feeling of dread and anxiety going into an appointment, the uncertainty of what the doctor may find gnawing at your insides and infiltrating your colonic activity.  Though I can relate on the doctor visit level, I personally don't feel like this about the dentist.  Except for one horrendous visit for a surprise root canal (can you say 13 injections later and still not numb, folks?), I generally look forward to my semi-annual visits.  I like that feeling of dental clean.

I had an appointment this past Tuesday.  In I walked ready for my closeup and was escorted back to the chair by my regular hygienist.  I love this gal.  She makes the appointment so easy and so friendly, chatting without stopping through the visit, so when she says, "You're all done," you literally think, "That can't be it!"

I got settled in "the chair" and said, "Hey, I missed you last time I was here."  I think that was the only visit out of ten years of visits that she hadn't worked on me.  She said, "Oh, I know, I was just thinking I hadn't seen you in a while."  She consulted my chart and I heard her mutter under her breath, "Okay, February, so March...April...May, got sick, dad died..."

I put my hand out to stop her.  "Did you just say your dad died?"
She said softly, "Yes."
I replied, "Mine did too."

We just held each others arms, right where I had laid my hand when I stopped her and looked at each other.  She asked, "When?" 
"May 27th," I said. "You?"
"June 15th."
"I'm soooo sorry," I said.
"Well, I'm sorry for you.  What happened?"

I briefly described my dad's passing, that he just stopped eating, and was, I think, just so tired of living with his Alzheimer's.  She remembered that he had been having trouble for a while. 

Then she proceeded to tell me about her dad. 
94 years old. 
Active until the last few months of his life.
Lived with her almost until the end.

I leaned back and she started her work on my teeth.
She spoke the whole time about her dad.
World War II vet...purple heart among other medals.
Saved a few people in high school during the big Long Beach earthquake.
Always a hero.  Humble.  Caring.

During the course of her conversation, she mentioned she had lost her mother after the turn of the century and her sister a few years ago.
She was the only surviving member of her immediate family left.

I knew in that moment that I was supposed to be available to listen to her that day.
(Perfect position for me...mouth open with instruments filling them, unable to speak.  Probably necessary in order for me to not try and get a word I usually might.)
She needed an empathetic heart to hear her.
She needed someone who could relate.
I was so happy that I was there.

So big picture lesson...
You never know when or where He'll move through you...
Use you...
Depend on you to reach out.
So be open.

Small picture lesson...
Don't skip your bi-annual dental appointments!

Photo credit:  Cartoon © Dan Rosandich

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