Friday, February 11, 2005


It's been a week. An emergency root canal and a funeral.

The tooth problem came on very suddenly. On Tuesday, Smartmom woke up looking like a chipmunk: her right cheek was swollen and her mouth was THROBBING.

Smartmom knew it could mean only one thing: ROOT CANAL.

That afternoon, she visited her exceedingly friendly endontist, who went at it right away. Contrary to public opinion, root canals are not all that painful. Not after all the novocaine the dentist shot into her mouth. But if you are claustrophobic and prone to gagging, like Smartmom, it is not especially pleasant.

Smartmom used her trusty meditation breathing to help her through the worst of the dentist's finger thrusting, drilling and digging into the root to kill the nerve. For Smartmom, the worst part is the closeness of the dental microscope, the dental dam, and the plastic over her mouth.

Smartmom just kept breathing through her noise and sucessfully avoided a panic reaction. The procedure went quickly and she left the office with a prescription for painkillers and antibiotics.

That night, Groovy Grandpa called at 10:15. That seemed a bit late for him and on the walk from her bedroom to the phone, she had a premonition that someone had died (it was just a matter of who).

"Is everything okay," Smartmom asked nervously. "Not really," he said. He told her that his first cousin had died of Leukemia.

This cousin, who was only 65 or so, was a very sucessful commercial photographer and the father of two children and three grandchildren. He'd struggled bravely and optimistically with Leukemia for the past seven year. Accepted might really be the better word. He accepted the Leukemia but didn't let it take over his life or take away his optimism and good spirits.

The funeral was a non-religious affair presided over by one of his old friends. The eulogies, delivered by eight friends and his daughter, all extolled him for his good, humor, his deep friendship, his positive attitude and his talent. One friend recalled something he'd said on the golf course: "It seems like every year we get worse. But this year we're playing like next year."

It was the kind of funeral that made you wish you could have had a little bit more time with that person - the eulogies made him sound like such fun. His friends knew him in ways that some in his family did not.

Smartmom, Groovy Aunt and MiMa Cat in one car followed Hepcat and Groovy Grandpa to the reception in Hartsdale. The men got unbelievably lost. They missed one turn and then went completely off the directions ending up in Greenwich, CT., nowhere near where they needed to be.

Smartmom, Groovy Aunt and MiMa Cat went with the flow wondering where the hell Hepcat was taking them. There was lots of getting off at exits, getting back on. At one point, Groovy Aunt even had to drive over a median. Zoom.

Smartmom wishes she could have been a fly on the car wall to soak in the mood in Hepcat's Volvo. Agitation plus agitation makes for AGITATION (you do the math). And she thought it was going to be a nice bonding experience for Hepcat and Groovy Grandpa.

So much for bonding. The group finally got to the shiva and enjoyed the company of family members they hadn't seen in too, too long. In part, the funeral reminded Smartmom that life is short and that there's no time like the present to get in touch with people you want to see.

The ride back to Manhattan was smooth and direct. Smartmom, Groovy Aunt and MiMa Cat listened quietly to kd lang's new album, "Songs from the 49th Parallel." She thought back on the day: about her cousin, her family, the shortness of life, the ways in which we don't always appreciate what's here, what's near.

Smartmom listened closely as kd lang sang the words to a song called, "The Valley:"

I love the best of you
You love the best of me
Though it is not always easy
Lovely? Lonely?
We will walk in good company

The shepherd upright and flowing
You see...


At 10:45 PM, Blogger red eft said...

Love every bit of this.

Hepcat is quite the adventurer once you get him out of the slope, eh.

At 3:36 AM, Blogger Udge said...

What a week. I hope you are all bearing up, and wish you (SM) a week of soft not-too-sweet food. :-)

BTW, if you liked The Valley, you might wish to listen to the album "Bound by the Beauty" by Jane Siberry (who wrote the song), whence it comes. She and kd have worked together on several occasions, e.g. a duet called "Calling all angels" on the soundtrack to Wim Wenders' film "Until the End of the World".

At 4:32 AM, Blogger annette said...

sorry about your cousin and your root canal...

sending healing thoughts your way...

At 5:26 AM, Blogger Third Street said...

Bound by the Beauty may be her best. But I discovered her with The Speckling Sky, which has a haunting cut called: The Taxi Ride. Ah Jane Siberry. I saw her in concert at the now defunct Bottom Line. She is one smart woman with a fabulous stage presence.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Little Light said...

Sorry you had such a difficult week. Hope you're recovering from that root canal - I was cringing just reading about the suffocation. Sorry about your loss too. It certainly puts everything in a different light.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger red eft said...

...another long-standing Jane Siberry fan here, esp. songs Temple, Love is Everything, The Beginning of TIme, Bound by the Beauty & Map of the World. There's a lot of discs I don't know; one of Christian music that actually looks pretty good.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger elswhere said...

Sorry about your week.

Songs from the 49th Parallel--what a great album.

But the Bottom Line is closed?! Very sad.


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