Out at the In-Laws

norman-rockwell-family-dinnerA ritual most parents will go through.

Meeting the in-laws.

No, not your in-laws. You’ve presumably done that already.

Your once-upon-a-time child’s.

I knew how to behave. I’d been through it before, and anyway, my eldest had presented me with an instruction manual:

mother of the groomSo there we are, seated at a beautifully-laid-out dinner table my daughter-in-law-to-be had prepared, passing around platters of grilled chicken and veggie burgers, marinated cukes and garden beans, organic tomatoes and french bread. Two sets of parents, three very lively grandparents, a sibling and spouse, the happy couple, and, here and there, two friendly dogs passing by in hopes of a handout. We’ve just come from exploring the wedding site, just a few steps away (until recently, our-co-in-laws-to-be hosted rustic weddings at their beautiful Barn Swallow Farm). Conversation is brisk, and all is going swimmingly. I am reveling in the knowledge that once again, one of my children is marrying into a warm and welcoming family.

Then dessert arrives.

Admittedly, the best part of most meals, yes? So, I’m merrily digging into my ice cream–when I hear and feel what I can only describe as a sickening crunch. The same kind of sensation you get when you back into a tree which a moment ago, surely wasn’t there.

For me, the celebration ended right there.  Lost, all if it: the delight of ice cream, the exuberance of the occasion, my year to come, and mostly, the bridge over a missing back tooth which had already been fractured and flapping loose (bridge, not tooth) for, well, awhile. It had now broken completely free of its mooring, bobbing around as blithely as Huck and Jim’s raft. And alas, taking with it what had been until that moment a fairly good and somewhat solid tooth.

End of my celebration. A quick dash to the bathroom mirror confirmed the truth: where once I was minus one tooth, I’m now missing two, and there in the gaping space loomed my future: more pain, and dental expenses which would rival my children’s college tuition. (Outstrip, actually, given their hefty merit scholarships.)

Great Depression famous woman face

This situation is not covered in my Mother of the Groom book. Though the rite of passage–losing teeth–seems to be not uncommon among those of us hitting in-law age.

All to say, my dear faraway friends, if ever I imagined I’d overcome my travel phobia and come see you, that’s history. I’ll be in hock to the dental world for some time to come, and confining my trips to my medical professionals.

I promised my son and his fiancee that I will have teeth in time for their wedding. I just can’t promise that they’ll be my own.

Have you ever encountered glitches in what was meant–for other reasons–to be a memorable occasion?  Send some healing cheer: I’d love to know!

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