Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Swift quote’

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. (Jonathan Swift)

“How nice to see you, Terry,” A. says. “But she recognizes my voice as I talk to another Y member, not my short stature and senior version of what was once strawberry-blond hair. A. is blind.

I have met her several times. Each time I get to know her a tad better.

I call her later because I finally figured out the right date for a senior social event. Jay and I will be bringing her home. She expresses concern for the pain in my back.

When she says she will pray for me I believe her, and ask her to add someone else to her list, a young friend who lives out of state. S. will be having surgery at the end of September. I don’t give A. full details, only an overview of a nightmare that began with a bout of pancreatitis.

And I realize the larger story is stuck in the back of my throat, in a huge wad of emotion that won’t be swallowed. A. seems to understand. But I don’t know why this woman I barely know has brought this out in me. Through some intangible connection. Beyond the visual.

“Your husband refuses payment for the ride home,” she says.

“And so do I.”

“Maybe you can come to my house for dinner sometime.”

I pause before suggesting she come to my house instead, after I’ve finished physical therapy. And that will happen by the time of the social event. “I should be just fine by then. Besides, I love to cook.”

But, I think about how A. sees with her hearing and memory—and how I don’t. I have no clue how many steps there are from the table to the bathroom. There is a narrow space between the couch and the television. Jay and I leave our shoes in the middle of the floor. Sure, on that day we would be wearing them, but I take sight for granted.

“You can bring a friend,” I say, more for me than for her. Someone who already knows what she can maneuver on her own. And what she can’t.

She isn’t sure whether she can arrange an escort or not. She hasn’t read my mind. And that is probably a good thing. I will take the leap. Learn. Make a new friend, who will become more than an acquaintance with a keen sense of voice recognition.  Then perhaps, I shall see gifts, once invisible, yet present all along.

just once understand


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Vision is the art of seeing things invisible. (Jonathan Swift)

As I’m sorting the mountain of items on top of my dresser I find an old earring in a box of don’t-throw-out-yet-stuff—the mate was cracked and discarded in another decade. The relationship with the gentleman who gave it to me shattered long before the jewelry did. In another century. Admittedly I did not appreciate the gift at the time. It probably cost my fiancé more than I realized. But I needed to experience a profound personal loss to realize that the only reason I continued the relationship with this young man was because I didn’t think anyone else would ever take an interest in me. The two of us had nothing in common.

Now, as I discard that earring in the trash I forgive us for our ignorance. He had no idea how lost I felt at the time, and I had no way to explain the inside of a vacuum. My vision has changed; I suspect his has, too. He married someone else and so did I.

Now, many dark, bright, and muted-colored years later, my husband of 43 years plays Christmas music on our CD player while I clean. I recall Simon and Garfunkel’s Silent Night/7O’clock News from their “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” album of 1966. It appeared during my own difficult time. Crime reports and promises of continued war played in the background of gentle sound, a bizarre kind of counterpoint. In some ways not much has changed. The challenge of peace remains immense, even on a personal level.

Sure I like days where the sun shines with amiable warmth and I have enough time to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it. I doubt that these are the moments where I grow most, however. Chances are if my life had been cushioned in silk and affluence in a the-world-centers-around-me existence I wouldn’t appreciate innate beauty.

I wouldn’t smile all the way from my lips through my heart and into my gut every time Katie J. posts a new entry in her blog for Elysium. Kyle, like my Ella, has Down syndrome. Katie tells about the joys of her young son’s life, but she does not minimize the challenges. I appreciate her honesty, as well as the information she shares about Trisomy 21, what it affects and what it doesn’t. Both Kyle and Ella have a deep capacity for love without strings attached.

These are kids, scoffers may say. You can’t predict a life based on early cuteness. Yet, I have met adults with Down syndrome who have not lost the gift of innocent goodness. And it is a gift.

I think about that silly box on my dresser with mismatched, lost or broken pieces. This is probably the time to get rid of those useless attachments and become more like Ella and Kyle. Things will never make me happy. People-who-care can; they have. Knowing people who don’t have an agenda make discarding the past even easier.

happiness without a reason

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