Age keeps taking its toll. Bits of me have been replaced and some don't work well any more. I'm afraid I feel I'm falling apart.
Teeth again! Bottom teeth! Or, at first, bottom tooth - singular. A month or so back I bit into cheese on a cracker and a bottom tooth broke off at the gum line. Big ugly gap.
All those years of dental care, childhood visits to the "murder house", regular check-ups, rigorous brushing – now all for nought. It was unable to be saved because the teeth next to it were too far gone to support any structural rebuild.
To my temporary rescue came a dental magician who made me something I had never seen or heard of before, something to tide me over until the problem could be dealt with much further down the line - there is a long Covid queue.
I think it's called a "suck-down" – not the most felicitous nomenclature, I know – but let me try to explain.
The magician takes a mould of your bottom teeth then makes a clear plastic version of it and it fits very snugly over your bottom row of pearly-whites but cannot really be seen because it is clear. He fits a replacement tooth where the gap is so that, when you fit the appliance, there is, to the untrained eye, no gap.
Miraculous, yes, but there is a downside. It only works on a cosmetic level. It has to be removed for eating, something I like to do to keep myself nourished and alive.
Our first grandchild was new-born and Mrs D and I were going to make the trip to Wellington to visit her for the first time. Lucky I had a suck-down or she might have been very frightened of her grandfather with the gap.
The day before we were due to drive down, age struck another cruel blow. Biting on sourdough bread was enough to snap off the two neighbouring teeth, again at gum level to keep things nicely matched.
With my suck-down in place, I was now minus two teeth. Without it, I was minus three. Three in a row. Despite my anger at the latest two breakages, I had kept the broken teeth rather than throw them into the garbage in a rage.
Then came the lightbulb moment. With the aid of tiny drops of super glue administered by toothpick, I was able to position the two broken teeth in the appliance alongside the false one.
So I was able to enjoy my first face-to-face with my granddaughter without scary dental gaps.
I held her, I gazed at her and she was tiny and beautiful. And she had long and thin but very tiny fingers – a pianist or guitarist of the future.
She also had long, thin toes so, in the making, we could have a multi-instrumentalist who is ambidextrous and ambipedal (please don't write in about that word because I won't care).
Then, like a dentist's high-speed drill, it hit me. When she gurgled and murmured back at my baby-talk – well, they were very tiny sounds so more of a murm and a gurg – I noticed that she didn't have any teeth at all! Not a trace of a tiny incisor or molar.
I had been panicking about gaps and suck-downs and superglue when in fact I needn't have felt embarrassed. She had no teeth at all. She was gummy too.
Here, in dental form, was evidence of the great cycle of life. Out with the old, in with the new.
Welcome to the world, dearest granddaughter. I worried needlessly about my gaps.
And rest assured, you look lovely without teeth.
• Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.