Tuesday, April 26, 2011


We were sitting at the table at a suco (juice) bar when I saw her approach.
She was headed straight for us Americans, after all, we are an easy target.
They believe that all Americans are rich.
What she didn't realize was that we've seen it before.
Poor, dirty beggers are all over the streets of Rio.
Some simply beg and others have small things to sell.
She had an object made out of a soda can that she was peddling.
We didn't even know what it was suppose to be.

She was young and dirty.
I recognized the smell of having not showered for some time
as she got closer to us.

It always makes me sad. But in this case it especially bothered me because of what I saw.

When she opened her mouth to speak I saw that she was missing her two front, bottom teeth.

That impacted me because 30+ years ago I lost my four front,
bottom teeth in a car accident.
I was able to have crowns put in right away so, unless I tell people, no one knows.
But this past year I had some problems with one of them
and so I am in the process of having a implant done. Muito money!!!!
Which means, right now, I am wearing a partial and I hate it!
And I complain about it.
My tongue is constantly playing with it and no matter how hard I try
to train myself to leave it alone I haven't been successful!

I'm also very self conscience of having it out (with one tooth missing)
even in front of Warren.
Really, I don't even like to look in the mirror without it! (vanity, I guess)

Even though we are having to watch our pennies these days we found it to be a necessity to have the implant done....

And then seeing her I realized how much I still have.
How much I take for granted.
How much I assume is still my right to have.

I've told many people here in Brazil (when asked about our economy in the U.S.)
that we Americans (myself included) really don't know how to be poor.

We can be losing our jobs, our income, and still drink our fancy coffees, have our own car, buy processed foods for ease, have cable TV, own our computer, central heat and air-conditioning, own a washing machine and dryer, membership at a gym, kids in sports or dance, good meals out, etc because we've grown accustomed to it. We know no other way. We think we should be able to have and do what we've always had and done.

And then I saw her teeth, or rather her lack of teeth, and it has me thinking.
There are things I just assume I should have. Almost like they are owed to me.
And forget how blessed I am.
I forget to be truly thankful.
I forget that maybe I don't deserve it after all.

I forget that having all of my teeth is a gift.

I am a rich American.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

It's so true! And pathetic that we think we deserve any of it.

David and I have become so conscious (or paranoid?) about the dental care for our kids from stories we've heard. Then even more so after one of our foster boys came into care and had the worst case of dental decay in a child in our county...19 of his 20 teeth had decay at 3.5 years old. They pulled the front top 4, 2 molars, capped the other molars, added a ring and space bar. (He is simply adorable with his gummy canine tooth smile :-) And they hope this won't affect his adult teeth. :-( It is so sad how quick dental decay can even occur in a child!