Aye! More about Eyes

by cindy

Some have asked what it is like to have single vision. My answer usually is “it’s no big deal.” And for the most part, that is true. Depth perception is my greatest issue. The front fender of my car is a clear testament to that.

When I am working on a painting, I’ll often stand a few feet away from the easel to assess my next move. Once I decide where next to apply the paint, I move quickly toward the canvas only to realize I’m not close enough for the brush to make its mark. It sometimes takes me two or three steps to get where I need to be. I find it rather amusing, at least more amusing than the scrapes on the car.

Another problem? Pouring my glass of wine. It took me a while to figure out how to pour anything into a glass without missing it altogether. Slurping the spilt wine off the counter became a bit unseemly when guests (or even grandchildren) were around. I’ve managed to adjust to such challenges much like I presume my mother’s father had to adjust to his being single-sighted.

I never knew my grandfather; he passed away when my mother was thirteen. He was a remarkable man in many, many ways. He was an accomplished writer, a learned scholar, an intrepid adventurer in spite of having a dreadful childhood.

His mother died when he was an infant. When his father remarried, his step-mother was not very happy having to raise this scrappy little boy. That this woman was unloving was one thing. That she was unkind was another. When my grandfather was three years old, he found that the laces on one of his high-topped shoes had become completely snarled into a solid knot. After struggling to untie it, he sought assistance from his step-mother. She refused, saying “You did it. You undo it.” Eventually, he found a pair of scissors. In the struggle with the knot, the scissors slipped, puncturing his right eye.

In his case, the eye itself remained but it was cloudy, scarred, and sightless. My mother never thought much about it, she told me once. “We had never seen him any other way. It was Dad and that was that.”

It has taken me more time to adjust to the look of my prosthetic eye than I care to admit. In spite of the amazing artistry with which it was created, there is a clear difference in my eyes when I look in certain directions or use certain expressions. Few adults admit to seeing the difference but kids…kids are honest. Delightfully so.

On occasion I have assisted Rooster’s mother in his classroom’s holiday parties. She organizes the parties such that the activities are run by a couple of mom-volunteers and me, the one grandmother-volunteer. I try not to embarrass Rooster while I’m there, but, you know, stuff just sometimes happens. At one particular party, as I was being my usual expressive, jovial, clownish self, one of his classmates exclaimed “WHOA! That’s some funky eye you’ve got there!!”

My first thought was, “Oh, no! Will this upset Rooster?” I need not have worried. In a flash, he leaned into the group, quickly (and, dare I say proudly) explaining that I was a Pirate and my eye was not real and that I had an eyepatch I sometimes wore and that I had a scar (gallbladder) from my last sword fight and Mommom, could you show them that scar (on my belly? I don’t think so!) and that I had scars on my knees (knee replacements) because I had cancer in my knees (whaaaattt???). Now that last bit? I don’t know where that came from but I was still quite delighted that he shared just how special I was.

And his classmates? They begged me to take out my eye. Of course!

Did I do it? Of course not. I did not want to be known as the weird grandmother-volunteer whose volunteer credentials were revoked at the Second Grade Classroom Friendship Day Party.

After my eye surgery and until I received the prosthetic, I wore an eyepatch. I wore it at all times. To the gym? Yes. To lunch? Yes. To the grocery store? Of course. And it was at the grocery store that I first realized just how fascinating a pirate I might be.

The store was unusually empty at the time. While standing at the meat counter, I pondered the selection of the same-old, same-old, trying to decide what to buy for dinner. In my reverie, I failed to notice the young boy who stood right beside me, gazing up and waiting for my attention. Frankly, I nearly stepped on him because, well, he was on my blind side.

Once I acknowledged him, he very politely asked, “Are you a pirate?” Now, I had no clue who this kid was and I was a little reluctant to carry on a conversation with him without a parent or care-giver being aware of it. I quickly glanced around and saw no one. No one. No adult or older sibling any where near the meats. I had no inkling where he came from. But there he was, still gazing up, and repeating his question. So I answered, in my best pirate-y voice, “Aye, matey! I surely be a pirate!”

“Well,” he asked, “what are you doing here?”

“The lads aboard me ship have got to eat, you know!” was my reply. Satisfied, he hopped away, presumably to a parent, and I never saw him again. True story. Not that any of my stories are untrue but this one still has me scratching my own head in disbelief and I was there.

The only other problem with a prosthetic eye is this: if I am not careful when rubbing in the area of the eye socket, that sucker can pop out. Yes. Yes it can. And should it disappear, say, down a toilet or into a gutter grate, know that this little eyeball is pretty expensive. Once one gets it, one does not want to lose it.

Now, Dear Dave and I have been married a Very Long Time. Even when this eye-thing happened in 2008, we had been married a Very Long Time. And never in our years of dating and our decades of marriage did the following scenario ever cross our imaginations.

It was early morning, the sun just beginning to peek in between the window shades. Dear Dave was softly snoring, curled up cozily in the warm comforter. Not fully awake, I turned over slightly and noticed my eye was itchy. My fake eye. Sleepily, I rubbed it as one would do with any other eye. But as my hand rubbed it, the prosthetic flew out into the air. And all that happened next happened in a millisecond:


Upon hearing those words, Dear Dave LEVITATED off the bed, flipped on the light, threw back the blanket, and began to frantically search for the offending missile. At which point, I quietly noted,

Nevermind. Here it is. I caught it. Go back to sleep, Sweetie.

When I say Life is an Adventure, I know whereof I speak. As does Dear Dave. Never, ever, a dull moment.