Glasses, Bullying, and Seeing Things Clearly Pt. III

I still take my glasses off occasionally and look at Christmas trees, just to see the sight I did before glasses. In 1992, I decorated my private-duty patient’s little Christmas tree, feeling like a 40-year-old kid. The next day, my patient was in her bed, and I was in the chair on the other side of the respirator that kept her alive. I was reading a three-inch thick biography of Winston Churchill to her, by then the sixth book we’d read and discussed. We took a break from reading and looked at her tree in the now dark room. She said, “You did a beautiful job decorating for me, Sandy.” “Thank you. I was glad to do it. My grandmother always had tall Victorian trees with lots of spaces between the branches, and I got to decorate them every year when I lived with her.” She described the first year her family had electric lights on their tree when she was a kid and added, “I had to get close to see the tree. I needed glasses, but we couldn’t afford them.” “I got my first pair between third and fourth grade.” “I got mine the year after we got the electric lights.” Like twin sisters with ESP, we took our glasses off at the same time and squinted at the miniature lights on the tree in front of us. She started with, “I used to take my glasses off to look at our tree—” I finished with, “So you could see the lights looking like snowflakes with light rays coming out of them?” “Yes! How did you know?” Her smile made me feel good. I felt like we were sisters conspiring together. That’s the danger of private-duty patients; you love them too much. “That’s how Christmas lights looked to me before I got glasses. Looking at them that way now brings back good memories of a few years of my life.”