Monday, August 10, 2009

Mother Was Right, and That Terrifies Me

Portrait of a young woman clenching her teeth

Weird things just seem to happen to my 87-yr-old mother. They always have. Now, however, they often provide me a (frightening) glimpse into the aging process.

Take today's episode, for instance.

She wanted to show me a tooth that "might be missing some of its parts." (Sometimes she has difficulty finding the right words but compensates creatively..once complaining that it took "one-hundred-dollars" for her to get to sleep. "No, that's not right. I meant one-hundred-days. No, that's not right"..."Mom, you have insomnia?" "YES!")

We looked into the mirror together, she opened wide, and all of a sudden that was the least of her worries. Although the possibly deficient tooth was right there to be inspected, there was a more obvious problem.

"Hey!" Surprise, confusion. "One of my other teeth is MISSING!"

Now, I'm not talking about one those hidden teeth that are tucked away where only your dentist can see. I'm talking about one of the big, sturdy right-near-the-front molars.

"How long has it been missing?" (A stupid question really, like asking, "where did you put it?") She doesn't know, of course.

Ridiculously, I assured her that it must have been extracted a long time ago and she'd just forgotten! As if that's going to make her feel better! I am not good at this. Meanwhile she was glaring at me like I stole it or something. Or like I didn't believe her, which is worse. What's not to believe? The tooth is definitely missing.

So is this what happens when we get old? You go to bed with a full set of chompers and then wake up the next morning with one gone? Where does it stop? What's next? The rest of your teeth, one by one? Your hair? An arm? An ear? (Your dignity?) Maybe that explains the insomnia. What part of you will be missing when you wake up?

When I was little, Mom once told me that if I didn't quit eating so much candy my teeth would fall out of my head some day. I have had recurrent nightmares my entire life about just that--my teeth falling out suddenly, disintegrating, disappearing. Seems there might be something to that casual threat. I am going to have a hard time getting to sleep tonight.

First thing tomorrow I'll call her dentist. Perhaps the mystery will never be solved. Who knows. Maybe someone paid her one-hundred-dollars for it and she just forgot. You never know. I think it was a gold one.

1 comment:

  1. OK, I realize this picture is ridiculously large. And there is still the issue of that annoying display across the bottom. I'm working on my technical expertise. Really. I'm just a slow learner.