Thursday, May 06, 2010

My Mother's Eyes

Abby with Mom on her last mother's day on earth
Mom had green eyes. When she wore contacts, she sometimes ordered the tinted ones to make them more green. She wore those hard contact lenses that almost no-one wears anymore. She had to buy special cleaning solution that was not cheap.

Mom's eyesight was always poor. She got glasses as a little girl, so all her childhood yearbook photos were just a little bit geeky. She had those really cool cat-eye glasses in junior high, but when she'd look back at those pictures she said those glasses were awful (I like them).

When I was in 4th grade, the eye doctor said "Oh, mom, she has eyes like yours." He had finished examining my siblings, but when he came to me, he discovered I needed glasses. I remember his words so clearly "she has eyes like yours" -- I actually felt flattered about that. It meant something special, in my 9-year-old mind. So I went off to pick my first pair of glasses (and if you think 1950's lenses for children were bad, then please take a look at what the 1980's had to offer us!); they were blue/clear plastic frames. It was great to be able to see clearly.

I remember Mom mentioning that she'd like to have corrective surgery so that she could just jump up in the morning and see ri
ght away (years later I totally understand this). One time when Anna and I had a sleepover, we were being a bit loud in the basement, and Mom jumped out of bed, grabbed her glasses and came down to let us know. But we all had a hard time taking her seriously because she'd grabbed her sunglasses. She burst out laughing along with us.

Mom wore contacts the majority of my life, and her in glasses was equivalent to her being sick or having just woke up. Then in 2006, she had a big scare with her eyes when one of the retinas detached and that eye went blind. She had corrective surgery and had to spend days with her head parallel with the floor. Then she had the surgery on the other eye, because it was about to detach. Then the same eye detached again, and she had the surgery again. That last time she had to keep her head down for something like 2 weeks. She could only get up momentarily to go to the bathroom. I remember how her poor sore eye looked when my dad put the medicine in it when she got up. I felt so bad for her during these times. She was such a trooper, watching tv with a mirror on the floor, or listening to audio books or even reading with her one good eye!

The sad thing was that Mom had to w
ear glasses all the time during this time, and I know she disliked it. She did look different, not her usual contact-Mom self. And when she was able to go back to contacts, her eyes suffered a bit from the surgeries and one of them was rather squintier than the other.
But when she would look at you with an excited face, her eyes lit up just the same. I can still picture her sitting on the love seat in the living room, talking to me with eyes lit up.

Mom had a beautiful smile. People often commented about her infectious smile, but I think it really was her eyes smiling that was so infectious. It's sweet to me to think that God gave her those eyes, with all their defects and they were used to bring so much joy to others.

Those eyes laughed at thousands of childish antics. They poured over millions of pages of books and magazines.
Those eyes looked right into the eyes of a toddler, issuing instructions for obedience. They closely examined stitches in quilts, samplers and her own sewing. They conveyed love to her family. They poured out tears at the drop of a hat -- in joy or sorrow or pity or empathy.

When Mom died, we found that she had wanted to be a donor. Most of her body we weren't able to donate because of a small spot of skin cancer from years ago, but we were able to donate her eyes. Those eyes. Oh, they gave her such trouble, but what tools they were for helping others. And selflessly she gave them away, helping others after she no longer had use for them herself.

Now when I think of the optometrist saying my eyes were like Mom's, I can only think "I hope so!"


Anonymous said...

and now my eyes are dripping tears. :*) love her!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute. You write so well. Your love for reading greatly enhances your gift of writing.
You were blessed with a wonderful mom who poured her life into her children.
Aunt Donna

Elizabeth said...

Beautifully written. I can just see her running downstairs in sunglasses and then laughing with all you girls! God has given you girls a precious gift- most people do not grow up with a mom who obviously enjoyed and cherished her children. The older I get, the more I realize how blessed I am because of my mom- and you also! God is so good to us.

Sizzledowski said...

beautiful. :)

Anonymous said...

Gretchen, they say to love and be loved is the greatest gift we can give and get. That is what I see here, such parents we all had and have to teach us about real love. We all count our blessings in this family. Love you & yours
Aunt Diane

Emily Benzing said...

I have mom's eyes too Gretchen! I know I used to always think it was so cool when she said "they change color" I was so jealous! :) I miss her a lot this week. The other night, I just randomly started talking to her... who knows if she heard me, but I felt better.

Tina and Todd said...

How beautiful ... and I would write more, but I am bawling thinking of those caring loving eyes!

Anonymous said...

Gret I always felt humbled by your mom and her troubling eyesite. I have been blesed with good vision. But what joy there was looking deep in heer bright green eyes knowing she loved me so DAD

gretchen said...

This was beautiful! What a lovely tribute to your mom.

It is fun finding another Gretchen! There aren't many of us, are there?

Anonymous said...

"Her children shall rise up and call her blessed." Proverbs 31