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August 9, 2013

The value of a good tooth …

MERIDIAN — Have you thought about it lately? I mean really thought about it? Well, I have! Read as I expound about something I already knew, but have, indeed, renewed a greater respect. That is for those hunks of calcium embedded in my mouth.

         I remember Papaw, when he said, “If you only have one tooth left, hold on to it.”

         Yes, he said that and I was just a kid, but somehow that statement remained with me, even until today. The value of a good tooth – it’s not magic. Brushing, flossing, annual checkups, and good hygiene – all are necessary components to ensure a set of good teeth. But, hey, we know that … really, we do.

         It was June 13 that I became toothless, in part. You see I suffered an accident and the front teeth received a hard impact. There I sat on the hard concrete, with crushed pieces of teeth in my hand. Whew – there I was, without my toothy smile. Sigh.

         I never knew I was so vain, but I soon realized vanity was just a small part of a toothless dilemma. As some of you know, I live with a perpetual smile upon my countenance. I have always reasoned that it is easier to smile, than to frown. Also, keeping my mouth shut (watch it!) was almost impossible for me. I mean I have a lot to say, but here I was post June 13, with gaping holes in the front of my mouth – Uh Oh. Indeed this was a new experience and I didn’t like it.

         Oh, and the menu each day was something like this: soup, creamed potatoes, baked potatoes, mac/cheese, soup, soup, and more soup. Notice all of the carbs – oh, my! My husband is a killer-cook, but I couldn’t eat anything that required chewing.

        Whine … whine … whine …

        Then I realized everything broken was fixable. Yes! I will be fine and I am very thankful. My time, since June 13, has allowed a peek, a tiny glance into the world of the disabled, dear people. During my visits to the ER, doctor’s office, therapy, and the dentist, I have been given an up-close-and-personal opportunity to see many hurting, with no real recovery in sight.

    That’s when I didn’t care if my mouth had missing teeth. I gave a big toothless grin to my comrades in those waiting rooms – a smile I hope they understood as encouragement.

        As I sat recovering in the quiet of my home, I learned many things. I know I would have not slowed down to inventory my life, if not forced. I would have continued to blaze-a-trail toward the moonbeams … storytelling, writing, writing, writing, play productions, presentations, and so much more.

    This is not the end, but I have a clearer roadmap in my mind now. I know I can’t do it all. I must be selective and make my life count for what is important to me and my world.

        But the main thing I learned … I have a husband who would jump over the moon for me. I have family who love me. I have friends (church friends, storytelling friends, community friends, readership friends, and so many, many more) who are true-blue-friends – not just fair-weather-friends. It has been a wonderful time in my life, rather painful, but great just the same. No matter life’s pathway there is always something to learn.

    I look forward to my life’s next turn-in-the-bend, but, please, I rather keep my teeth.

    Anne B. McKee is a writer and storyteller. See her website: www.annemckee.net

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