Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Repository

I had what I guess was a rude awakening today.

My mother had a dental appointment scheduled at 2 and my cousin Niecie was going to come up from the Bay Area and give her a mani/pedi in the morning.  

Among the things I found during the big Office Reorganization was a box of old, old black and white snapshots of my mother's family that had been torn out of someone's photo album (the black page still sticking to the back).  Many of these photos are duplicates of ones I already have and in any case, I have a ton of photos here to go through "some day" and definitely don't need to add these to the four big boxes I already have.  As Niecie has become, with Peach's death, the family historian, I thought she would like to have the photos.

Every time I post one of the old photos in the private family group on Facebook, Niecie is the one who gets all excited and happy to see the old photos, so I told her about this big box of photos and she said she definitely wanted them.

So when I knew she would be at Atria, I took the box and went there early, an hour before the dental appointment.  Niecie was delighted and suggested that we go out to the lobby and look at them there, since there was a table and better light.

My mother was pretty much OK, though when I was going to get coffee for the 3 of us and asked if she wanted cream in her coffee, she threw her hands in the air and said "you guys figure it out.  I don't even know what you're talking about."

So we settled in at the table and Niecie started looking at the photos, asking with almost every photo "now who is this?"  Sometimes my mother knew, almost always I did because I've been seeing them all of my life.  As I answered her questions and corrected her guesses it occurred to me that with Peach and Kathy gone, I am the only one in the family who knows all this stuff!!!!

I do have a couple of cousins older than I am, but they have always lived at a distance and I don't have a clue how much they know about our grandparents when they lived in Inverness and the people who visited them, or what Peach and I looked like as little kids, or how to tell the babies one from another based on the date of the photo.  

I can.  And I think I am the only one in the family who can. (I call Niecie my cousin, but in reality she's is the daughter of my cousin Shirley, who would have been able to identify all of these photos, had she not died of cancer several years ago).

That's a pretty heady responsibility.  When I die, the IDs of all these photos dies with me.  I don't know that anybody cares, but if this family is typical of many other families, the people who really are interested and care, won't realize they care until everybody who can answer their questions is gone.

That's certainly what happened with my father's side of the family.  I inherited the scrapbooks of my godfather, my grandfather and my father and I don't have a clue who is in the photos and what is happening.  This is particularly sad in the case of my grandparents' vaudeville scrapbook, filled with many of the stars of the company they were members of, but I don't have a clue who they are or, in the case of informal photos of this group, what was the occasion for the photos.  That is all lost to history now.

But it seems I am now the only one who can keep the memories of my mother's family alive, through the remaining photos.  She can remember some of them, but not all of them.  I can figure out most of them.

It just feels weird to realize that.

As for the dental appointment, it went very well.

To my surprise there was no resistance.  Maybe her defenses were down after a morning with Niecie and then our session with the photographs.  I just said "it's time to go" and she followed me.

It was kind of endearing, though, that even though she didn't know what was happening, she still had the dental nervousness.  "I'm very nervous and I don't know why," she told me.  When I asked her about it, she said "I don't know where I'm going and what's going to happen to me."

As for the appointment itself, it was a perfect example of why I love Cindy so much.  I remember when I first went to her after >20 years of not seeing a dentist and fearing that my teeth were about to fall out.  She had been a friend for years, but not my dentist.  She scheduled me for the last appointment of the day so there would be nobody in the office except me.  Years later she told me that she should have taken a picture of my teeth because she had never seen such a thick piece of plaque behind my front teeth and was sure a photo could be published in a dental magazine, but she didn't want to make me feel uncomfortable.  She truly changed my life and I now brush, floss, and see my dentist 3 times a year.  She also took care of me herself until she felt I would be comfortable seeing a hygienist.

So she took my mother to the back of the office, where dental procedures are done, and she was very gentle with her, examining all of her teeth, then asking if she would mind if they cleaned them.  My mother agreed and Debbie, the hygienist cleaned.  Then Cindy came back in and asked if my mother would feel comfortable having her teeth x-rayed, which she agreed to.  A full mouth x-ray was done.  Debbie told me she would be taking 18 x-rays, which would not have to be repeated for 5 years, which I told her meant it probably would not have to be done again.

While the x-rays were being done, Cindy talked with me and said she'd like to study the x-rays and then meet with me about the condition of my mother's mouth.  She asked if I thought my mother should be at that meeting and I said no, so we have that ahead of us.

I listened while Cindy tested the gum pockets and most were 3 or 4, but a couple were 7 and I think I heard her say one was 10.  She's also lost 2 teeth, Cindy says.  So I'm sure she would like to do some work, but the question is, I think, how much dental work you do on someone who is 97.  I'll find out when we have our meeting.

So she's had her annual exam, she's had a CT scan and she's had a dental appointment and, depending on what my meeting with Cindy reveals, she may be free of medical interference for awhile.

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