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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What are the chances?

What are the chances a dentist who I met 30 years ago would make such an impact on my heart with the fine art of telling jokes?

No one likes going to the dentist. I didn't grow up going to a dentist, and only met my first one at the age of 20 when my wisdom teeth began giving me Big Trouble.

When I met Dr. Michael Weintraub I was about 25. I went to him on the recommendation of his patient, Ann Silver Rain, and immediately fell under his spell of comedy-- for the rest of his life-- and through a good amount of preventive dentistry for the life of my teeth.

When I received his regular letters to his patients, I would read every line, happy to learn about a new hobby: the violin, computers, golf and more golf. Each letter was beautifully written, full of details and ideas that were so alive I could hear his voice as I read them.

Last July when I saw him last, it was when he showed up standing tall next to the chair I was in having my teeth cleaned. I looked sideways to greet him with my eyes and was so pleased to see him brimming over with pride and joy as though to say "There is another happy mouthful of healthy teeth, and I am at least partially responsible!"

I can't remember any of the hundreds of jokes he pummeled me with over the years, but I wish I had the great memory to keep such a treasure in my brain and make so many people laugh as much as he did.

I went in for a cleaning yesterday and the assistants in the office were not the happy crew that usually greeted me. I assumed there was a problem, but simply said 'good morning' and was about to sit to wait to be called in when Laura, his long-time receptionist said "Doctor died last night, Linda." A massive heart attack took Dr. Weintraub from this plane, and the office, his patients and, most of all, his family are reeling from the loss.

As he would have liked, the cleaning I had gone in to receive was performed, and I left the office in a stunned state, not seeing his new Mercedes that his son gave him this year, of which he was so proud but not a fraction of how proud he was of his son.

I drove to an outlet sports apparel store about four miles away and bought some last minute Christmas gifts. As I was paying, I said to the clerk, "It's been such a weird day. I went to my dentist's today and learned he had died last night." The clerk didn't skip a beat and answered as he bagged my purchases, "I know, we were golfing together last week, his son and me. He comes in here all the time to shop."

Small world. What are the chances two of doctor's friends would meet in such a random way to share in our loss? What are the chances?

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