Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now

The other morning, I was attempting to put together L.'s lunch for daycare. Because her food allergy put the ever-loving fear in me, I still prepare everything that she is fed. Anyway, so it's 6:30 in the morning and I am trying to cut up some sausage to go with her fake cheese and fruit, and I cannot figure out why I keep dropping things. Strawberry pieces are going hither-thither and yon while bits of sausage keep missing the tupperware container and falling to the floor.

It took me five minutes of food carnage to realize that I had forgotten to put on my glasses and couldn't see what in the world I was doing. I have been blessed with a pretty nasty case of near-sightedness that makes it difficult for me to make out things that are more than 8 inches from my face when un-spectacled. Funny how much I rely on my glasses now. It didn't used to be this way.

I was 18, a senior in high school and getting ready to start college. Part of my preparations required me to undergo a physical that required (among other things) an eye exam. Imagine my and my mother's shock and horror when I flunked the eye exam miserably. The MD who had asked me to read her chart used the rather somber 'legally blind' and 'not sure it can be completely corrected' phrases that had me bawling in the car on the way home that afternoon. (Fortunately for all involved, I didn't learn to drive until after I graduated high school, in case you were getting nervous.)

It turned out the only thing I could barely make out on the eye chart was the 'E' up at the very tippy top, and even that was pretty blurry. Growing up, it never occurred to me that I couldn't see diddly squat compared to most of the rest of the world. I recognized individuals from a distance based on their gait rather than recognizable facial features. Taking notes during class lecture was difficult, but I never realized everybody else was able to read what was on the blackboard. Heck, I couldn't even tell what time it was on the big clock found in every American classroom. That right there should have clued ME in.

As a child, I never could figure out what all the big deal was regarding millions of stars in the sky. I remember asking a teacher why we couldn't see stars anymore. Her reply? 'There's a lot more pollution today.' I can't blame her for not realizing that I simply couldn't see stars at all. My own parents didn't catch on. Although, one spectacular (based on what my folks and siblings said) meteor shower when I was in 7th grade could have clued them in. While everybody else oohed and ahhed over meteor after meteor, I never saw a single one.

No real harm was done. Despite my vision impediment, I was a near straight-A student, and I didn't bother to learn to drive until the summer after I graduated high school. Taking a drama class when you can't see the audience takes out a lot of the panic of standing in front of a room full of people. A visit with an optometrist a couple weeks later and subsequent glasses corrected my vision to slightly better than 20/20.

In a way, 'going blind' for so many years was a benefit for me. I can still recognize people I know well based on how they walk from pretty extreme distances. I have a deep and abiding appreciation for the beauty of the stars at night. I remember vividly the first night I had my glasses. It was one of those rare crystal clear evening in Germany (motto: we have more fog than England), I looked to the sky and saw thousands of twinkling, dancing little lights for the very first time. They were so beautiful, I could have stayed out all night. For weeks, I went around telling everybody who would stay still things such as: 'I can see there are bricks on that house!' 'I can read that road sign!' 'I can tell what kind of tree that is by looking at the leaves!'

It's been a number of years since my little vision problem was discovered and corrected. Most of the time, I take my glasses for granted and forget that seeing what I'm doing is a remarkable thing. However, there are days when I forget to put on the specs, and then I remember.



Tree said...

That is nutty, Mrs. W! I am glad you can see now. Keep enjoying the little things.


Keith said...

"big clock found in every American classroom", but you were in Germany. Was it still an American classroom because you were on an American base?