Some people have a fear of flying. Some people would rather die than give a speech. What I dread is sitting in a dentists chair. Its an unreasonable fear, because, for the past 40 years or so, my dentist has never hurt me.
Dr. Anderson is a very kind and quiet man with a soft voice and gentle hands. He was always careful to make sure I had plenty of numbing and nitrous oxide before he began his work, and he never seemed to be in a hurry. Yet, because my experiences were not so pleasant as a child, I always wondered if there could be a first time when the nova cane wouldnt work, or Dr. Anderson might have a bad day and let his drill slip. But it never happened. My hands would get clammy as I lay there with a paper bib on, in that big dentists chair, waiting for him to come in. Id listen to the whine of the drill in the next room and cringe. But there was never a need for all that. Id always feel a little silly as Id climb out of that chair, feeling like I had a fat lip, but never in pain.
He is about my age, and his children are my childrens ages. His sons played Little League ball with Steve, and his daughter and Kara were good friends in high school. When I retired, it occurred to me that he would be retiring someday too, and then what would I do?
Meanwhile, his daughter Joy became a dentist. She joined her fathers practice, and now that he has indeed retired, Joy is my dentist. Only I dont call her Joy. I call her Dr. Todd. She used to call me Mrs. Hiland, but now she calls me Mary. Were both very comfortable with our role reversals. Joys personality is much more outgoing than her dads, but shes just as skilled and confident in her abilities. There are some subtle changes in the practice. The music that is piped into the examining rooms is more contemporary, sort of soft rock. If your lips are dry, you get a quick coat of chap stick before the work is started, and you get to pick the flavor of the numbing stuff she puts on your gums before a cleaning. When I commented on the chap stick, Dr. Todd said, Its a girl thing. She was once a girl. Now shes a doctor, and Im almost as proud of her as I am my own daughter.