That's Grandpa on the right, in case you were wondering.

How did Lorna feel about her paternal grandfather?

I liked Grandpa well enough. He laughed way more than Grandma did, which is to say he laughed. Not all the time, but at least I knew he could. There was a lot of metal where his teeth should have been. He was a dentist, so I figured he practiced doing fillings and other dental procedures on himself. When he laughed, he could laser your eye out if a ray of sun caught one of his metal teeth just right.

See what I mean? If the light hits one of those teeth just right...zap!

Grandpa was a big man. I was a little girl, so every adult seemed big, but he was extra large. His size made me nervous and his Grandpa-ness made me curious. He was the man of the house; there was no man in my house. I didn’t know how to behave around him, except to keep quiet, polite and awestruck.

Grandpa liked me because I was smart. Mom told me I impressed him with quips to questions he asked when I was really young. She said he liked to bait me with trick questions and delighted at my quick-witted answers. He once asked, “Would you like to be alone with me on my boat?” I replied, “If you were with me, I wouldn’t be alone.” I was about six. He laughed and laughed.

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." Groucho Marx and I must've been related.

Grandpa liked intellectual types. Maybe that’s why he got so angry with me the first time he took me fishing.

He baited the hook with the worm. It was squiggly and I was just five. Chances were, the worm would have escaped unharmed and I would have ended up with my fleshy finger on the hook. Just a few minutes in the water and my pole tugged. My boy cousins muttered something about “beginners luck.” He helped me reel in the first fish of the day, a good-sized perch. I was giddy because Grandpa was so proud. My delight shifted into horror as the fish thrashed, dying. I started to cry and begged him to save the fish. He yelled at me, “Stop being so foolish, you silly girl. What do you think happens to fish when we catch them? They die and we eat them.” I was sobbing, asking to go back to shore and saying I didn’t want to be on the boat with “the fish I made dead.” He was disgusted with me, telling me I ruined the fishing trip because I was “a useless child.”

I know how ya feel, Kiddo.

Having a dentist for a grandfather had its perks. We got regular check-ups and fillings for free. His office was in his house, so he had a tendency to go crazy be vigilant with our dental hygiene. One baby molar was giving me trouble (he had worked on it twice) and we were over on a Sunday for a mid-day meal. As everyone was sitting down to eat, he asked Mom how my tooth was doing and she said it was still bothering me. He got up (which meant the meal stopped), grabbed me by the hand (I was about four-and-a-half), and he marched me into his office.

He didn’t ask Mom and he didn’t ask me; he just decided to pull that trouble-making tooth. Right before the Sunday meal.. He made quick work of it, not telling me anything about what he was planning, which was wise. Grandpa had a big set of ear-phones and a black box with a black turn-knob and a red one for his young patients. Either music or a story would play while he was working because he didn’t believe in Novocaine for young people. He said the black dial was the volume for the ear-phones and red dial was the volume for the pain. “Turn the Pain Dial down if you feel pain.” He would see his young patients cranking the red dial and back off momentarily or tell them “I’m almost finished” even when he wasn’t. It worked like magic most of the time.

I don't know my colors yet. Which one is the Pain Dial? And go easy. My gums are sensitive.

He set me up with the ear-phones, but before “Once upon a time…” was over, my tooth was out. He packed cotton in the hole and replaced it every minute when it was soaked in blood. I felt sick to my stomach at the metallic taste of the blood and the pasty consistency of the wads of cotton. After five or so minutes, he decided I was fine and we went back to the supper table–my cheek puffed up with cotton and my eyes puffed up with tears.

Do I look like I can eat anything? If I open my mouth, I'll shoot a wad of red cotton right into that platter of lobster.

Grandma served lobster that afternoon. The red and the white of the lobster reminded me of the red and the white of what was going on in my mouth. Grandpa was too busy enjoying his meal to check on me, his distressed one-less-tooth granddaughter. An aunt brought me into the dental office and changed the gooey red cotton with a fresh wad. And so it went until I was down a quart, pale, but the bleeding finally stopped.

I never could eat any kind of sea food without gagging, so if I’m low on Omega fatty acids, I have my Grandpa to thank.

Yeah. Well, I feel the same way about you.