Gramps had cataracts. He had them removed when one of my daughters was about 6 months old. He’d met her and held her before his surgery but shortly after the cataracts were removed, we visited him again. He held my baby up in the air and examined her. For the first time, he could see her clearly.
She was his first Great-Grandchild. His eyes filled with tears that silently slid down his cheeks, but his smile stretched from ear to ear. He cradled her close to his heart and said to all of us quietly watching, “Isn’t she wonderful.”
His mother had cataracts too but in her day, surgery was not an option and hers were not removed. She eventually lost her vision. Her death certificate actually states that she was blind.
As a child, Gramps would take me to visit with her and most every time, she would ask him to run an errand. She kept her money stashed away in a small wooden box. She only used $5.00 bills so there was no mistake about the amount.
He would try to refuse her money but he learned long ago to comply. It was important to let her go through the steps of opening the box, feeling the thick stack of bills and carefully taking out a few to give to him.
Her independence was vital to her spirit. Once, when Gramps was off running errands, she heard my stomach growl. She had not lost her hearing. In fact, it seemed like she had super-powers.
I followed the unspoken rule and did not try to change her mind. She told me to go out into the backyard to the hen house and gather some eggs. I did. I brought them in and watched in complete amazement as she found her box of matches, lit the burner on her gas stove, slid the cast iron skillet onto that burner and fried us each an egg.
I knew she was totally blind. But she knew her own world and managed to live in it.
She heard the car before I did. When she told me to wipe the egg off my face, I realized that she really wasn’t blind, she just couldn’t see.
I felt sad leaving her. I think all of us were a little sad. She whispered something to Gramps as they hugged goodbye. I saw a tear slide down his cheek and looked and saw that she had wet cheeks too, but they were both smiling.
I waved goodbye as we drove away but then realized she couldn’t see me waving.
Gramps could tell I was sad. He asked me if I understood what she had said. They only spoke Spanish to each other. I spoke Spanglish. That is what we called our blend of English and Spanish.
He said that she told him I was wonderful and then he said to me; “Isn’t she wonderful?”