During my annual dental checkup May 12 in Imlay City, the dentist referred me to a periodontist in Port Huron. An unsightly white growth had emerged under the gum above my right front tooth and needed his expert evaluation.

Having chipped my front left tooth at nine-years old, teenage orthodontics, and every molar in my mouth crowned, I’m no stranger to pain.

May 31 I drove north to I-69 to Port Huron where the GPS directed me in circles around downtown until I called the doctor’s office for directions.

I completed my new patient papers as a young woman wearing a white tee shirt, short bib-overalls, and sandals walked in. She signed in and sat before a window.

The sun highlighted her abundant roll of auburn hair secured on the top of her head. I recalled the young assistant with a topknot of black hair who works for our family doctor in Romeo, and couldn’t restrain my inquisitive nature. “Pardon me.”


“May I ask how you perfectly roll your hair on top of your head?”

She kicked her long, slender leg crossed over the other and smiled. “Oh, I’ve worn it like this so long I don’t think about it. My son loves to play with it. He calls it Slinky, like the boys did in high school, because of the way my hair separates and moves when I turn my head.”

“You have a son?” I asked incredulous.

“Yes. He’s two years old and the light of my life.”

I remembered that feeling with my firstborn. Second. Third.

The receptionist called my name. Within half an hour I left the surgical chair in minor discomfort and holding gauze under my lip. The young woman with the Slinky hair had left the waiting room.

Weeks later the periodontist called with good and unusual news. “The pathology examination of the gum tissue indicates tooth matter. I’ve never seen this before,” he said. “This should not happen again, but let me know if it does.”

Last Monday, August 8, I waited in Detroit Metro’s Delta arrivals terminal for my middle, California daughter. At last, she appeared with her beautiful smile. Orthodontics straightened her teeth as a teen, yet there’s not one crown in her mouth.

“Kelly, I’ve never seen your hair so long,” I said, and couldn’t help but touch her thick, wavy auburn strands.

We stopped at Ridley’s Bakery Café in Troy for a late lunch.

“Mom, are you still available for a Port Huron trip tomorrow?”

“Certainly. You must have your fresh water swim in Lake Huron.”

Kelly laughed when I told her about meeting the young mother with the Slinky hairdo in the periodontist office.

Dear Reader, my daughter didn’t brave the lake’s rowdy waves last Tuesday. Rather, we found several heart-shaped rocks along the beach for my collection. We visited the Thomas Edison Museum and climbed the ninety-two steps of Michigan’s oldest lighthouse.

Oh yes, no matter how old, children remain the light of their mother’s life.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.