Love Never to Be Blinded

Love Never to Be Blinded

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Love Never to Be Blinded

The balls of sight are so formed, that one man’s eyes are spectacles to another, to read his heart.

Samuel Johnson

“Mom! Come look at the sunset!” My six-year-old daughter called, running to the window at the retirement home. Mandy could be demanding and full of energy, and she seemed to be far more so when my attention was on someone else. Right now that attention was on my mother, frail and angry and sitting in the lobby of the retirement home we had placed her in.

“It’s an institution! You’re trying to put me into an institution!” Mother had declared when we first suggested the idea. But with her age and her blindness and our trying to raise two very active girls and balance jobs to pay the bills, she finally relented. I had tried to make her happy and feel at home, even taking time to make her a lavender and blue quilt, her favorite colors before she lost her sight.

So here she sat, huffy, gloomy and not talking to me. The caretaker of Suncrest Home came over with a cup of tea. “Now, Mrs. LeSage, how about a nice cup of tea? It’s your favorite, Earl Grey with lemon.”

“Mom! Come see! Come see!” Mandy interrupted from the corner by the window.

The caretaker smiled. Mother turned away and the tea was placed on the table beside her. I shrugged, not knowing what to do, how to cope anymore. I wasn’t far from tears.

The caretaker pulled me gently aside. Away from the lobby and out in the corridor, she placed her arm around me as I collapsed into sobs. “I just don’t know what else to do,” I said, my voice breaking. “I know she hates me for it, but I don’t know what else I can do. She can’t be on her own, not with her blindness and . . .”

“Quit blaming yourself,” she said firmly. “That won’t help either you or your mother. Right now you have to be firm but loving. In time, she will adjust to her new surroundings . . . and besides, you’re only a few miles away.”

Not that it matters, I thought, remembering my mother’s stony glare and silent face. She would probably never talk to me again. I was walking back toward the lobby when I heard the excited voice of a child. Mandy! I had left her in there with her grandmother and the other residents! What could she be up to?

“It is purple! Real, deep purple. Purple like the grapes on Uncle Willis’s vines in September!”

“And what about the red? Is there any red?” an elderly voice asked.

“Red? Yes there is red in it too! It has all different kinds of red—like the bike that Grandpa gave me for my birthday when I was five. Do you remember, Grandma?”

I came in to see Mandy and her grandmother standing by the window as the warm sun set outside. Mandy gently pressed my mother’s hand to the glass. “I know you can’t see the red anymore, Grandma, but you can feel it, right? And the golden yellows and the orange and . . .”

My mother smiled and clasped Mandy’s hand, then pulled her close for a hug. “Yes, I can. I can feel the colors of the sunset.”

She let my daughter guide her back to a chair and hugged her once more. “And when you tell me what you see, well, it makes it all real for me.” She turned to me and said, “Well, now it’s your turn. Tell me, what color is that quilt that you made me on my bed?”

From then on, Mandy met with her grandmother at least once a week and phoned her often. She told her of the colors of her school—brown wood and bright yellow paint with a picture of a happy face on the door. She told her of the green of the ocean when she first visited it and how the stormy blue sky was the same color as her cousin Jennifer’s eyes. She shared the dark black of her graduation gown and the glorious yellow rose corsage that Grandmother sent for her special day. She phoned her long distance to share the black sand of Hawaiian beaches and the icy crevices in the Yukon. She even told her the shade of hair of the boy she fell in love with—dark and wavy, just like the old pictures of Grandfather.

Mandy taught me a valuable lesson: that I could not give my mother her sight back, or the life she once had. I had to stop feeling guilty and focusing on what I couldn’t give her but rather on what I could . . . time and the colorful sharing that comes from a love that is not blinded.

Nancy V. Bennett

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