I See No Evil But People Still Speak It To Me

Within a few months of each other, two different adult men have told me they would kill themselves if they ever became visually impaired.

What the hell do you do with that?

Friends say that I handle people’s reactions to my delivering the status of my sight with grace. The responses are varied yet always surprising. This particular statement left me feeling grace-less. In both cases, I didn’t say anything, because I was gobsmacked. And when I gathered myself to craft a reply, it was neither nice nor proportional to the declaration. So I continued to stare, open-mouthed, at the outline of their heads.

It turns out that hindsight is 20/20 even for the legally blind. I realize now, I should have killed them with kindness.

When my mom passed away, I kept anything I thought I may want, with the thought that I would go through the items when emotions weren’t running so high. I would lose my sight a few months later and the bin stayed closed until a few months ago.

Mostly paperwork, there was a hardcover book, a calendar from 1993, I had assumed was my mom’s when I saved it in 2012. I put it under my Merlin electronic magnifier, only to see not my mom’s writing, but her mom’s, my nana.

Nana had made entries into the calendar for three years, adding 1994 and 1995 to each day. Most of her notations were about the weather, when the landlord mowed the lawn, and when people came to visit or called her. It is a documentation of three of the last four years of her life, she died in 1996 at the age of 95.

What surprised me the most was that three years before she died, she had made notes off and on that read “Not Good”. She lived alone in Philadelphia until a few months before she passed, and I had no idea she wasn’t feeling well for so long. I don’t think my mom did either. I was newly married back then and although I spoke to and went to visit her often, I wonder all these years later if I should have known nana was having a hard time.

The other unexpected revelation is that she captured the minutia of life. I have tracked events in a calendar for over 30 years and written this blog for eight. I had no idea Nana did this and it seems that I may have inherited this practice from her.

While initially I began going through the book, I decided to keep it by the Merlin and read her entries for the current date each day. Global warming experts could enter her records into evidence based on the temperatures she noted this time of year in 1994.

I read an average of 100 books each year. But this page turner is #1 on the Sister Rain Bestsellers List. It’s got drama, it’s got suspense. And just like its author, it’s got my heart.

I love you, Nana. I hope that now, every day, you’re “Good”.


Farm Fresh Address

Living 35 miles outside of Philadelphia, my hometown is not a booming metropolis. However, when I go to Lancaster or the mountains (which is generic for remote areas west of us, mostly wooded with big hills and lakes, a generic term used here like the beach being called “the shore”), those places are so much farther removed and rural from urban life than us. Perception, said the visually challenged blogger, is everything.

My favorite part of summer is the produce stand near our house, fresh corn on the cob, tomatoes, cantaloupe and my addiction, peaches, are ripe for the buying. As we run errands on Saturdays, the delicious smells from our purchases fill the car better than any tree-shaped freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. Before we go to the stand, we have to make sure we have all denominations of bills as there is no cash register nor are credit cards accepted. Instead, there’s a locked money-box with a slit and usually there is no one manning it. After years of this method of payment, as the season comes to a close, I finally wondered: Does the honor system equal the boondocks?

I tried to imagine a hot dog cart or bodega in the city using the same process to collect cash. Or Target, Costco or Kohl’s. Maybe as a skit on Saturday Night Live, but in real life, it just doesn’t work. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to live in a zip code similar to mine. We have mail delivered right to our home, this can’t possibly be the sticks!

Philadelphia is in my blood and I enjoy the hustle and bustle of any metropolitan location. But driving up to a wooden stand in the middle of a cornfield with some dollars in hand is the place to be. Where I live, and this system, is a privilege . . . and an honor.



My husband was going to take me to a doctor’s appointment and texted me to let me know he’d be home from work at 2:00 p.m. to pick me up. My appointment was at 1:00. I let him know and he came and got me at the correct time. In the car, I suggested he invent some type of calendar he could have in his hands at all times, as I stared at his iPhone. He continued to drive, shrugging off technology as he always does.

“Even the Aztecs used calendars”, I said, and he started laughing. I can’t say he will use his phone calendar more faithfully and never miss an event, but he won’t soon forget the time he was shamed by an ancient civilization.







I no longer wonder about the amount of major challenges someone must go through while here on earth. What I have been asking myself, however, given the events of the last month, is how much kindness can one person receive in the course of her life?

My closest friends are a source of strength and support for me every single day. And laughter. We cannot forget the laughter. And when life has handed me lemons, they are not only in the lemonade stand with me, they help me build it and squeeze the sh*t out of the tart, yellow fruit.

2012 was the year of my mom’s illness and subsequent death, followed by my waking up blind a few months later. 2012 was the year I found out what I’m really made of . . . and what my friendships are made of as well. These women have shored me up since my vision loss; when others went back to their lives after my initial illness, these ladies cut their engines. They stayed.

2013 would bring my husband’s cardiac crisis and 2014 the death of my dad-in-law during an outpatient medical procedure. My girls tightened the lines. They stayed.

2019 has brought foot surgery in mid-July. My R-I-C-E’ing and recovery once again turned the professional businesswomen in my life into Meals On Wheels angels. They brought food and their company, equally necessary in the weeks I was confined to my couch. They took turns on anchor watch. They stayed.

And then, literally as the doctor was removing my stitches, my mom-in-law suffered a stroke and we quickly learned that she would not survive. We spent the next eight days waiting for her to die. Brutal honesty here at My crew rallied another time. More sustenance arrived in the form of dinners, offers of rides, hugs and love. They came again, this time to my mom-in-law’s room where long days and nights were spent keeping her comfortable and greeting a hundred visitors who wanted to say goodbye. My sisters-in-all-the-ways-that-count sat with me, they sat with my mom-in-law. They have been in my life for over 20 years and they knew her well, we are family. They made sure my life vest was secure. They stayed.

They all attended the funeral when she passed. They came to the calling hour and stayed for the church service. As I sat in the front row with the family I married into, I felt the family of five women I’ve been gifted in the pews behind me, literally and figuratively. They stayed for the luncheon. They stay.

As we all sat together at one table, aside of my husband, I had everything I ever need right there in one place. I would do anything for them.

How much kindness can one person receive in the course of her life? I don’t know. But I am humbled by and infinitely grateful for the life preservers thrown to me but these ladies as I struggle to remain afloat in rough seas.

My friendships don’t just dock.

They stay.


She Left The House But Took The Home

As we visit my mom-in-law’s empty house since her very recent, sudden death, her things are everywhere as one would expect. Mom (G) had a lot of things. She was not a hoarder, but had many decorations, knicknacks are everywhere and the walls are filled with photos, quilts and other hangings she made. There are signs that have funny sayings about wine and lovely quotes about family. The redecorating she did after my dad-in-law’s passing four years ago speaks to the new life she created after losing him. But as she took her last breath, the decor we recognize as well as our own home’s furnishings became memories.

We all know that things aren’t important. But like G, I love the objects I’ve chosen to surround me and I’m sure you do too. You get a very accurate idea of someone through their home. You would instantly understand who G was if you were to visit hers. She is everywhere.

And yet she is gone.

As I entered her house for the first time since she died, it immediately felt different. You may be thinking, “Of course it did.” But had I not known she had passed, I truly believe I would have sensed it. Everything was the same yet all had changed. Her collection of things remains, but the rooms may as well already be empty. Without her, Mom’s house is no longer a home.



The Effect Was Personal

As I entered the hospital for outpatient surgery, I carried nothing with me. No phone, no purse, no jewelry, not even my wedding rings. It was an odd feeling to be just me, but not an unpleasant one.

As I got dressed after the procedure, habit had me looking for my personal effects, until I remembered I had arrived without any of my usual accessories. As the nurse wheeled me to meet my husband who had gone to get the car, it hit me that 54 years ago I came into this hospital and this world the same way. Just me.

Of course, that day I was naked. But you get the idea.



While getting my stitches out two weeks after foot surgery, my husband and I received a call that his mom had suffered a massive stroke. A few hours later, we learned she would not survive. A week later, she was gone. She was vibrant and healthy and had more energy than any of us “kids”. Her death could have been prevented had insurance not denied a test her doctor had ordered.

While my stitch removal was gentle, painless and done with great care, the excision of mom from our lives, from her life, was abrupt, hurt deeply and tore our world apart. The wound on my foot has mended nicely. The other events of that day will never truly heal. We now walk with a proverbial, permanent limp.


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