Sometimes we don't take the time to say “hello” to someone we haven't seen in a very long time. That was the occasion the other day when I was leaving the parking lot at Moore 's. I glanced up and saw Doc Etling walking into the store and noticed Helen was out in their vehicle. It was so good to see them back in the fold and out and about. I had to smile - thinking of all the years I had avoided that man!

I remember the slant of the sun and even the time of day when I first set eyes on Doc Etling. He stood before me in his blue dentist smock - a tall and powerful man with a friendly booming voice. I nearly fainted when he asked me to open my mouth and show him my “bite”. Believe you me, I created the most perfect bite this side of Mars. I had heard stories about cavities and shots and pain and I wasn't about to be anything but perfect at that moment! I was relieved when he passed me by to look at my sibling's bites which were bad because they hadn't thought as fast on their feet as their little sister. And it didn't hurt that I had finally inherited something from my Dad - really good teeth with an exceptional “bite”.

A few years passed and my teeth continued to not need Doc Etlings' services. Then Daddy was hurt in his accident and Doc Etling was no longer a foe but became a friend when he helped many other men of the community pattern Daddy - a twice-daily routine. That kindness earned him my respect and eternal thanks. Then about ten years later he once again came to our rescue when one of Daddy's perfect teeth broke in half. Somehow we got Daddy to the dentist office and into the chair and I witnessed a miracle. With great patience and perseverance Doc Etling managed to give Daddy a shot and extract that broken tooth, finishing the procedure with all his fingers intact! (Guess that was two miracles.)

Multiply my experiences by all the other people of our county who sat in his dentist chair at one time or another and you have so many lives he has touched along the way, not to mention teeth. And all the while Helen stood beside him and helped him become a wonderful dentist and civic leader. They made a great team then and they continue to do the same today! Welcome back home, you two!

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Well, I have added to my menagerie of animals - with the purchase of a monkey. I must add that he has not been gleefully accepted by the alpha male, Shiloh , or Sweat Pea, who seems to begin rapidly salivating whenever she catches sight of the old fella. Okay, so the monkey isn't real, but he is stuffed and sporting rubber fingers, face and ears along with suspenders and white shoes. When I was about three Mom bought me this one's twin at the Coly's grocery store, using him as a bribe. Thanks to that monkey I began talking instead of grunting and pointing for my needs and wishes (pitiful image, isn't it?). From then on I loved him dearly, never quit talking, and carried him with me at all times. I also bit his fingertips off, but we won't go there. Along life's path I left the critter behind somewhere, and I have lamented the loss and thought about him from time to time. Then I happened to see one on eBay and won him in an auction. I wouldn't be telling you this story for fear of embarrassment but for one mighty reason - finding that monkey has brought some sort of peace to my life. Perhaps we are each looking for the part of ourselves that we gave away to a monkey or a favorite toy, or even a beloved book. When we find that object that once gave us a sense of peace and order in our world. we experience those same positive sensations all over again. At least that's what I think happened when I looked into the smiling face of my old/new friend, smiled back and said, “Good to see you again”.