When my mother-in-law got to be in her 70s, her eyesight started failing. As the years went by, it became impossible for her to read or see television or even make out the faces of those around her.
Whenever we had a celebration of some type and I’d invite her to come and be a part of it, she would ask how many people were going to be at the house.
Because she could barely see, it was hard for her to sit at our dining room table with 10 or 12 other people talking and laughing and figure out what was going on.
She didn’t complain much about her failing eyesight, but I knew it was devastating.
She started listening to the radio more and more. She rarely turned on the television. She stopped buying the newspaper and magazines. When she needed to pay her bills, my husband or I would sit down with her and put our finger on the checks where she should sign her name.
We got her a microwave oven and glued fuzzy velcro on some of the buttons so she could heat up a cup of coffee.
She still kept a few violets on the window sill, although I doubt if she could really see them. She also would go to the window with a plant and hold it up to the light to try to see it.
The most touching moments I remember were when our daughter would go to visit her, which was several times a week. She would give Anna Mary a hug, ask, “How’s my sweet little girl?” and then take her to the window where perhaps she could make out her face.
Not long ago, I had an experience that reminded me of my mother-in-law. A friend, whose mother was in her late 80s called and asked if I would talk with her mother. The mother was losing her eyesight and was feeling depressed. I said I would try to help.
The daughter sat in the waiting room while I talked to the mother about losing her sight and how her world was changing.
As we were talking, this woman suddenly said, “I don’t know if it’s the light in this room, but I can sort of make out your face.”
And then she said, “Do you think my daughter could come in here and sit where you are sitting? Maybe I could see her.”
I immediately went to the waiting room and got my friend. She sat down in the chair I had been sitting in, and her mother tried to see her face. The mother had her daughter shift the chair one way and then another. Sadly, no matter how she strained to see, she could not see her daughter.
I’m sharing these stories today so you will take the time to look at your children and grandchildren.
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,” and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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