The hygienist does her magic as she does three times a year for the 32 friends I need to enjoy a New York Strip.
My dentist enters to examine both her work and my teeth while leaning over me. The teeth part works to my continuing advantage but he launches into a story he wants to tell me. (Leaning over someone is not the best angle for a meaningful conversation between two people – along with a beaming light, like the one the police use.)
He tells me that at a fancy club he attends, a bartender shares that he found his way back to the Catholic Church because of some guy named “Fr. Joe.” My dentist says that he told him, “I know a ‘Fr. Joe’ but how many are there and I was wondering if it was you?” I reply without all that stuff in my mouth, “How would I know?” My dentist continues with accolades that I hope are mine but have no idea who he’s talking about. (I now have clean teeth and I want to go home.)
Couple of years pass and the parish where I sometimes helps calls asking if I’d visit a man with a name unknown to me in the hospital. “It’s serious,” the secretary says. I go to the hospital and have a wonderful visit with a bartender who loves music as much as I do. We share concert stories and I anoint him with the Sacrament of the Sick.
I return to work and the Church’s fulfillment is fulfilled. Weeks later the bartender passes away at a younger age than mine and the same secretary calls me asking if I’d have the bartender’s funeral. I agree. (“Seemed like a nice guy,” I say to myself, hanging up the phone.)
After the funeral mass today, my dentist comes up to me and introduces himself as my dentist. (I’ve only seen his forehead for years.) He proceeds to tell me that the “a” bartender is the guy he told me about. He says, “You probably don’t remember the bartender I told you about,” which I didn’t forget because compliments are not always forthcoming. “Tom was the bartender!” my dentist tells me.
Driving home I’m thinking about the cycle of life without the Disney frills and Elton John singing. In reality, the “this” leads to a “that” which often encounters another “that” leading to a new “this” which now becomes a “then” which was neither expected nor planned.
My dentist and I both smiled at this circular rotation of both the earth and our lives.
I smiled at this coincidence while hoping for free dental care for the rest of my life. I suspect, however, I’ll still only see his forehead at my next visit but my dentist and I now have more in common than just my aging teeth. We have a beloved bartender.
(The church was packed, by the way.)
books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS, available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon:
“Living Life’s Mysteries”
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings”
A Great Gift Idea
A new book by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com
Paperback or Kindle is $14.95. Enjoyable reading.