Episode 40: 1959—The dentist
For some time Mother had been in need of a dentist. Unfortunately, when our brothers sent money from Mexicali or the USA, DJ spent it on trips to Guadalajara and Guachinango. With a stern voice, he’d say, “These trips are necessary, Maria. They are to ensure the safety of Alfredo.” And when the money ran out, he ranted and raved about their sons’ inertia. At the same time, he continued to impute all blame on them for the failure of the family business, and for how we ended up in this rustic town. Seeing all these, Maria preferred to postpone her needs for a better day than ask DJ to spend money on her teeth….
The dentist examined Mother’s teeth and gums with a long, skinny instrument with sharp hook at the pick. Then he wrote notes on a log. As he worked, DJ stood behind him drilling holes on his back with his stern eyes and frowning with his thick eyebrows.
At the end of the exam, the dentist turned and met DJ’s cold stare. “Doña Maria is in the early stages of pyorrhea,” he said matter-of-factly. “She’s going to need a deep cleaning of the gums.”
“What? What do you mean deep cleaning?” DJ bellowed. “We came here because she had a tooth ache, not to clean her gums!”
“I understand, Don Jesús,” said the dentist with a calming voice, “but she’ll lose all her teeth unless she has her gums treated.”
“And how long is that going to take?”
“I’m going to extract the bad tooth today, and you will have to come back after the wound heals so I can treat the pyorrhea.”
“Come back?” DJ uttered with annoyed tone. “You say we have to come back? That’s impossible. Do the whole treatment now!”
“Don Jesús. I can’t do both treatments at the same time.”
“Well, then take out all her teeth and problem solved.”
The dentist almost fell off his seat. “Are you sure, Don Jesús?”
“All of her teeth?”
“All of them!”