Lent 2013, VIII

VIII. My Grandpa got his teeth pulled when I was a kid. I
remember him freaking his grandkids out by removing his dentures and sucking
his lips in over his shrunken gums, and eventually he just got tired of using
his dentures at all. One of the last times I saw him was less than a year ago,
while he was still battling cancer. I think it was a few months before he took
a sudden turn for the worse, so despite the pain and the tumors and all the
weight he had lost he was still living life much as he ever had, shooting
pistol at the range every week, drinking a six pack a day of his favorite
beers, eating his favorite foods, as well as he could without teeth. On this
particular day I was sitting with him at the kitchen table, talking about
everything from politics, to the military, to medicine, to religion, to family,
just wandering from one topic to the next with the quiet enjoyment that was so
typical of him. During one pause in the conversation he watched me cutting what
was, for me, a typical slice of cheese. I would call it a “man-sized” slice of
cheese. I made my cracker sandwich and started chowing down, while he cut his
own slice. As he did he said, “You know, I never figured this out until I lost
my teeth, but I like to shave the cheese really thin and just set it on my
tongue and let it melt. I think it really brings out the flavor, a lot more
than a bigger piece. But I never figured that out until I lost my teeth.” I
tried it and what do you know? He was right. A little bit of patience brings
out the flavor of the cheese, almost as if I had never really tasted it before.
Biting off huge chunks and choking them down crippled my ability to enjoy that
cheese to the full.

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