My husband just turned 50 while we were on vacation in Boston. We took our nephew, who is 12, to tour and see a game at Fenway. When the Birthday Boy woke up on his special day, I gave him a gift I had packed for him:
He is always a good sport but I told him he didn’t have to wear it to the Red Sox game that day. But he did, for the sole purpose of embarrassing our nephew, an unalienable right of the uncle.
People on the bus and the train wished him a happy birthday. At Fenway, people did the same and a security guard there shook his hand and wished him fifty more. As the day went on and the number of wishes increased so did the amount of our nephew’s eye-rolling and head shaking. By the time he got into bed, ny husband had been wished a happy birthday by 40 strangers.
He had been successful in his mission to mortify the boy but I hope that somewhere deep inside the young man was able to see that the world is full of people who are good, kind and fun. Just like the man in the silly shirt who he calls Uncle.
*** Click here to purchase shirt.
They say there is no learning without reflection. Ever since the shock of my vision loss wore off, I began to assess myself, my existence and the meaning of life. You know, the little stuff. And although I may have figured some things out and have grown and healed because of it, I can honestly say I spend a good amount of time each day reflecting on things I have heard or experienced myself. My desire to build a new life has forced me to consider and evaluate everything I was and all that I am now. This blog shares what I consider and, yes, what I have learned.
I certainly don’t have all the answers but when you’ve gone through something like I have, the fact that I started asking the questions taught me one of my first lessons after the loss of my sight and maybe the one thing I absolutely know for sure: LIFE GOES ON.
The second thing I have learned a lot about is a little thing called irony. I can’t see myself very well in the mirror, but never has there been more reflection in my life.
I know we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. Instead we should celebrate the little things. I try to abide by both but am not always successful. Recently, however, I had a big day due to three little things.
First, I added a new block to my walk outside, traveling a route I had not taken for five years since my vision loss. It meant crossing two more streets than the circuit I had been doing, something no longer as easy for me as it is for the chicken.
Second, I was able to cover Piper, our parrot, with a hand towel and pick him up in it. Non-parrots, no need to reach for your phones to call animal welfare services, this is quite normal behavior for birdies (think foodies). It’s standard SAB* procedure for handling our feathered friends during a veterinary visit so the doctor can easily hold them in one hand and listen to their heart, look in their mouth and give them a complete once over. We had to chase Piper around the exam room last year at his annual wellness appointment because he sees the towel and heads for zee hills. Also, if we ever have to administer medicine to him via an eye dropper into his mouth we would wrap him in a towel. And if we ever need to remove him from our house in an emergency we can keep him safe swaddled carefully. It’s important that both he and I are used to the process so we practice. I make a game of it, covering him then taking it right off and making a fuss. But I am often not quick enough to be able to gently pick him up in the towel. This day, however, I went for it and Piper went along with it .
And lastly, I discovered some features of the Notes app on my Apple devices that I will share in an upcoming post. It took a lot to figure out how to get them but I persevered with anger and cursing.
Would these be my three wishes upon rubbing a lamp? No. Those desires are reserved for the things not in my own power to make happen. Pushing myself physically and mentally and taking care of Piper can be a challenge but I can do them. A genie could change my life but the things I accomplish change ME.
* SOB = Safely Avoiding Beak
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
Rest easy, everyone. Piper and his partner are on watch.
During Kurt Warner’s speech at his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame, he said,
“. . . which moments would best define me?
I would have said, like most of you, the accomplishments . . .”
I instantly thought of my own defining moments and the one I thought of immediately was my vision loss. I wondered why I didn’t think of a success instead; is it because I’m not rich and famous like Kurt? Because I haven’t done anything spectacular on a world stage? I never had children so I couldn’t claim becoming a parent as the point in time that changed everything for me. But why did I immediately go to the sight situation instead of an accomplishment?
This bothered me for a few days as I thought about his words and what I know of his life. He had some very tough times, so why was he drawn to his “good stuff” when thinking about his legacy?
Finally I realized that our responses weren’t that different. I was interpreting his use of the word “accomplishments” as his time as a professional football player, winning a Super Bowl and going on to,a successful broadcast career after retirement. And he was. too, at face value, I am sure. But I came to understand that overcoming the struggles and hard work and doubts was what made his achievements so important to him as he reflected on his past. As for me, the day I woke up blind was a supremely significant moment. But every second since is what defines me.
This is my one thousandth post. I started this blog while searching for a new job during the recession when my company shut down. I continued writing through the long, tortuous hunt, through several jobs up until the terminal diagnosis was given to my mom.
A three-year hiatus from writing this blog came next, while I woke up each morning to the realization that my mom was gone, while we adopted our rescue parrot, Piper, and while I completely lost my sight, got a little back and tried to find my footing in a world where everything had changed.
Thanks to technology, the slight healing of my optic nerves and my brokenness, I was able to return to this blog, no wonder compelled to share a new life as unexpected as any life could be. One thousand, three thousand, I will continue, with the hope of reaching just one person with this one message: You will be okay.
Have you ever noticed we ask others how they’re doing or feeling when they have a cold or an injury or if a difficult event has just occurred but when it’s a persistent situation we tend not to bring it up? If my friend falls and sprains her ankle I will make a meal, help her around her house or simply visit to pass the time more quickly. But I may not ask her how she’s doing with the passing of her dad over a year ago. It’s something she is no doubt still dealing with, a part of the fabric of her daily life. She may seem fine; she doesn’t really bring it up and if she does it’s matter of fact, sandwiched in between updates on her husband and her job. She may make it look easy but it’s probably not.
I can tell you from experience, even if she no longer limps or the scar has healed and is no longer visible, her parents’ house cleaned out and sold, even if she never mentions the thing that broke her, that shattered her world, that left her questioning everything she has ever known and believed about life and herself, it is in every breath she takes. Don’t be afraid to bring it up. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge a seemingly healed hurt. She will be so appreciative of the recognition of a piece of her tapestry she wears like a second skin. Just like the support she gets from the people who love her.
You can’t get away from the solar eclipse talk today. I know some people who are very excited about it and others who couldn’t care less. As for me, although I have some vision, it always appears that the lights are off: a daily eclipse of my own. I don’t know if I would have wanted to see the big event if my sight was fully functional but the fact that I can’t see it makes me want to.
Sometimes humans are more predictable than science.