I've been visiting a dentist quite regularly most of my life. I would guess at least twice a year, which makes it about 72 times.  I will be the first to admit I am not a dental hygienist. However, I am pretty familiar with the procedures that typically occur (and in which order) when getting my teeth cleaned.

This week I went to our local dentist late in the afternoon. She had another 'dentist' filling in for her. Also an assistant I never saw before. I would put money on it that they were either robbing the joint and trying to cover as workers or the doctor asked her neighbors last minute to fill in for her that day.

These two random ladies had no idea what they were doing.

The suction tube kept falling apart and was about 4 sized too big for my mouth.

Um, I think this is the Dyson vacuum cleaner tube, why don't you try for this little one by the tray of mini stabber tools?

That lady was all thumbs and would have been better off loading the get-a-way vehicle with machines and office furniture. It's not often I am embarrassed for other people, but for her I was blushing. Hey, I get it we all have out weaknesses, but sucking water from a widely opened mouth with a straw that's 4 inches thick? It's not putting a camel through the eye of a needle, my friend.

The "dentist" did the same type of internal tooth exam my daughter does (she's 4 btw) when she plays doctor and wants to see if my throat is red. Next came the gritty fluoride without water, mind you. Because who doesn't love frothy sand collecting in your mouth the taste of fruit punch and rock salt? I was dry heaving and gargling somehow at the same time. I started pointing to the water tube and sat up to take control of the situation my DAMN self when the useless suction tube lady clumsily dropped the tool.

Finally I was flossed. Last step in the process: floss. Now call me crazy, but the 71 other times I have been to the dentist never have I gurgled grit nor had it flossed between my teeth at the end of the cleaning. For a moment I wondered if I had just wandered into a dental school where they practice on you the way they do for hair stylist schools. Maybe I would only be charged a nominal fee because (chances are high) it was done wrong.

The good news is I felt less horrible about my dragon breath from my Indian food lunch. Come to think of it, maybe that threw them both off and caused distraction......



Dear Dad,

I think about you every day. Sometimes it makes me smile to think of something funny you said. When I called you at the hospital you had no idea who was calling your room, but you still answered the phone, "Tony's Pizzeria!" I laughed so hard I almost forgot you had terminal cancer.

I love speaking to your mother. She has a cheerfulness about her that even the sadness and loneliness your death left behind cannot destroy. Sylvia has this gift as well. She misses you dearly. She said you were the energy of the house and enjoyed your daily talks with her. Do you hear her when she tells me these things?

Sometimes it makes me sad to think of you. Your breath was so labored and your mind began to operate differently. I wonder where you are now. I wish I could see where you are. I wish I knew more definitively what's next once we leave earth. Mike eases my concern for you when he reminds me you are no longer in pain- I believe that for sure.

There is a veil of knowledge and understanding between us now that would probably be too complex for the living to comprehend. It would also not allow us the agency to decide and learn the way we ought to. Your death has caused me to reflect on this often and remember how little the material things of life matter. And how silly all of us must look spending our time and money and dumb things.

I review what I believe about death and the next life constantly in my mind and try to visualize it, but pictures come up empty. While my faith is present, my understanding could be sharpened. I suppose this should inspire me to dig around in my scriptures more.

Some say angels are on earth with us, are you one of them? If so, when are you near? Is it only when I think of you? Is it when I forget you? Is it when I talk about you to another?  Are you with your dad? I wonder what it was like for you to be near him again. Will you be the first one I see when I go?

If you are here and can see us, do you see the good moments and bad? Do you see when I cry? When someone is cruel to me? Did you see that magical that little 5 year old moment of childhood when my dear boy saw his carved pumpkin light up in the dark? It was a moment that gave me the biggest smile of the day, were you there? I was wishing then you could see it with me.

I miss you being there. I wish I had not taken it for granted.