First, lets start with a disclaimer- I started this blog close to a year ago for the expressed purpose of highlighting the best and brightest that today’s dentistry has to offer as well as updating the latest news about our state of the art, tremendously cool dental office. I try to strike a balance between bragging about how caring and wonderful my staff is with a little education about the most recent advances in cosmetic and restorative dentistry.
But today I want to make it more personal than that because this past week illustrated the ying and yang that make up the circle of life. Being that I have had the privilege of treating my patients for 25 years, I have gotten to know many of them as friends; and many of them have gotten into their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s….which is strange since I am still 34 (in my head!!). Well last week, one of my favorite patients, Sam, passed away after a very short bout with pancreatic cancer. Sam was a very funny and personable 83 year old who had been married to his wife Alberta for over 60 years and if I could emulate their marriage…..I would be a very lucky man indeed. Their obvious love and affection for each other was a pleasure to behold and an inspiration.
Sam worked hard for many years in the building supply business and when he retired, he and his wife embarked on a nonstop adventure of traveling around the world. As recent as last year they enjoyed a much anticipated tour of Africa complete with safaris. I want to be able to have that much energy and passion into my 80s! When Alberta called me last week to tell me he had passed away peacefully in his sleep, we cried on the phone and then laughed about some of his funnier wisecracks. Sam, I’m really going to miss you and I am so very glad for the time I had to get to know you.
Now, I’m a firm believer that for every sad note, there is a happy and joyous one following right behind. And sure enough, while Sam was being eulogized, I was on my way up to Boston to watch my son Teddy graduate from Tufts University. How I ever got old enough to have a son graduate college is beyond me but there I was, sitting on the Tufts Lawn, listening to Sol Gittleman give the keynote speech to 846 undergaduates and then flawlessly do my impression of a proud, beaming parent fighting for position so I could get the perfect picture of him receiving his diploma….yeah, I was that parent! And after the ceremony, we had a delicious graduation feast- deep fried bacon cheese burgers– truly one of the best meals I can ever remember having!!
It wasn’t until the next morning, at 7 AM as we packed the car and got ready for our homeward journey with the car packed with 4 years of memories and ….stuff, that we both began to reflect on the enormity of the moment. As I pulled away from the dorm, Teddy kept looking back as if maybe there were a few more memories that we forgot or were unable to take with us and would be lost and ultimately forgotten. As for me, I tried not to think about losing my “boy” – the boy that I taught how to ride a bike and enjoyed innumerable games of catch; the now “man” who would be living all the way across the country in graduate school at USC for 2 years. Teddy and I spent a wonderful 8 hours in the car, at times lost in our own thoughts, at other times listening to a Springsteen concert that we had attended together back in 2007 and, of course, stopping off at Subway on the way for gargantuan subs (Jared eat your heart out!).
And so the circle of life continues to flow- this summer Teddy and I will enjoy a trip out west to drive from San Francisco up to Seattle before he continues his academic pursuits. As for Sam, he will be in my thoughts on June 27th. That’s the day that I will be throwing a party for all the patients who have been with me for 25 years along with honoring Dr. Levy, my family dentist who sold me his practice. He is turning 90 and will be in attendance at this 25 year extravaganza. The circle of life- it will be on display that last Sunday in June in all its splendor- I can’t wait!