Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley shares memorable words from his former dentist.
Amidst all the “white noise” of dialogue that we are exposed to during the course of a lifetime, if we’re lucky, certain phrases will stick with us because they are profound, insightful, funny or at some level just “click” with us. Examples:
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” – Albert Einstein
“In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” - Abraham Lincoln
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.” - Johnny Depp
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” - Mark Twain
“I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.” - Ronald Reagan
"For God so loved the World that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” - Jesus Christ
All these statements, while they resonate with me, are attributed to individuals I never met. Consequently, I have to take on faith that they did in fact make them.
If we’re truly fortunate we’ll carry with us the voice of someone, saying something memorable. For some, such words link them to their parents.
The only words I can still hear my father telling me were spoken on my wedding day. Just minutes before leaving home for the church, my father walked up to me. Was I about to hear some insights regarding marital bliss? Were we about to have a belated “father-son” talk? Nope. He simply slapped me on the shoulder and said, “Good luck!”
I can’t be hard on my parents for failing to provide me with quotable quotes. I’m sure if you surveyed any of my five children, they would likely be hard pressed to come up with anything profound that I’ve said, or written.
The words I frequently store away in my heart are from my wife, Nancy. The person who is most familiar with my shortcomings frequently makes a point of telling me, “God made you special.”
While I have trouble believing I am special, it’s nice to have someone at my right hand who not only believes it, but tells me.
The utterance of memorable words is by no means limited to family members or people in the public eye. Sometimes it comes from someone we encounter during our day-to-day walk. For me, such a person was Dr. E.W. Harder.
Frequently follow a dental checkup, he would make a point of telling whoever was holding me down in the chair (just kidding … maybe), “Fear is a wonderful motivator.” Most times when he would make that remark, a mask would still be covering his mouth, but I knew it was covering a broad smile.
Sometimes he would explain to his assistant how far I’d come in regard to my oral health since he’d first asked me to “open wide.” He knew my motivation came from him having explained to me what was ahead of me if I didn’t do a better job between checkups.
Doc Harder was far more than just a man who knew how to use my fear of dentists as a motivational tool. As he would lower his mask and pull off his gloves after one of my checkups, Doc Harder would pause to ask about my family and how things were going down at the paper.
Even after giving up his dental practice, he continued to greet me as a friend, instead of a former patient, whenever our paths would cross out in the public.
While it’s doubtful I’ll ever forget his words regarding “fear” and “motivation,” I know I’ll never forget the special man who spoke them.