They start young these days

Rotating globe

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Melissa the Ragamuffin held her beloved niece close in her arms.  “Time to go to bed, Peanut,” she said softly.  Peanut frowned.  “Don’t want to go to bed,” she informed her aunt.

Melissa laughed.  “But if you don’t go to bed,” she told her niece, “you’ll never get your beauty sleep.”  “Don’t want to be beautiful,” insisted Peanut.  Melissa ruffled her niece’s hair and asked, “What do you want?”

Peanut’s tiny forehead wrinkled.  She looked around her room, and pointed to a globe on a shelf.  “Want ball!” she exclaimed.  Melissa smiled and said, “That’s not a ball, sweetheart, that’s a globe.”

Peanut looked puzzled.  “Globe?” she asked.  Melissa nodded.  “It’s like a picture of the world.”  Peanut looked triumphant.  Proudly, she announced, “Want world!”

Oh, sweetie, don’t we all!

A most alarming tale

Mid-City New Orleans: Middle-Eastern restauran...

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Back when it was warmer, some friends and I were sitting in the outdoor seating area at a restaurant.  It was a pleasant evening, the wine and the conversation both flowed smoothly, and I was beginning to relax.  A full work day in four inch heels is no joke, and it takes a while to (sorry about the pun) come down from it (sorry again).

Through the calm, warm air cut the screech screech screech of a car alarm.  My friends and I looked over at the parking lot beside the restaurant and saw a very harassed set of parents, the mother trying to shepherd their kids into a minivan while the father pointed his keys at the van and pressed a button over and over, to no avail.  The alarm just kept on going.   Conversation became nearly impossible, so the entire outdoor seating area watched the increasingly frantic attempts by the father to get the car alarm to shut off while the mother tried to keep the kids from running off despite the ear-splitting racket.  We were all rooting for the kids.

Do Somethin'

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Finally, the father got the car alarm turned off.  We all sighed with relief and returned to our conversations.  I’m sure we were having discussions of great weight and moment about world peace and the crisis in the Middle East, but alas, they had been irremediably disrupted.  So we fell back on discussions of Britney Spears and the crisis in Los Angeles, which to be honest is probably what we had been talking about in the first place.

Just when we were getting to the heart of the problem, that same car alarm started up again.  Apparantly, one of the children had tried to make a break for it and, after the parents had finally gotten the child back in the car, they set off the car alarm again when the parents tried to get in.  Another ten minutes of incessant clamor, another set of Mom’s daily exercises of chasing the kids and trying to get them to sit still.  Eventually, blessedly, at last, Dad managed to turn off the car alarm for his own vehicle and everyone got in to drive away–but not before the entire audience in outdoor seating broke into applause, led by the table at which sat yours truly, proposing a toast.  I love dinner theater.

It wasn’t until some fifteen minutes later that it occurred to us that they might have been breaking into someone else’s car and that that’s why they had so much trouble disabling the alarm.  You don’t think, do you?  It was awfully dark, and it really did take a surprisingly long time.  Imagine if they were a family of criminals, albeit fairly inept criminals, and we just gave them a rousing cheer when they finally finished committing their crime!  Oh, well, I suppose we all need a pat on the back sometime.

Happy Holidays from the Hamster

There's a lot of Christmas stuff inside. This ...

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My Sainted Mother came this weekend for a visit.  I don’t have a spare bed, so she stays in a hotel when she visits, and over the years she has gotten rather attached to one hotel in particular.  It’s to the point where the concierge knows her and greets her fondly when she walks through the automatic doors, and the girl behind the desk gets her a free upgrade to a better room, and the waiter at the restaurant will tell her about the latest installment in his ongoing health saga–of which she remembers all the details.  One of these days I’m going to find out she came to town, visited the people in the hotel, and left without bothering to see me!  Actually, I’m not 100% sure that hasn’t already happened.

This time we were admiring the Christmas decorations in the lobby.  Well, Sainted Mother was admiring the decorations.  I, having had a very long day, was yawning discreetly and thinking about what on earth to post to my blog when I got home.  We had the following conversation:

Sainted Mother:  Isn’t that a beautiful Christmas display?

Little Blind Girl:  (glancing covertly at the game on the television) Absolutely.

SM:  Last year, So-and-so decorated the lobby, and he always uses a more traditional style.

LBG:  (tries to see score without squinting) Does he?

SM:  But Other Person decorated this year.  I’m really not sure what’s on the top of that tree.  It looks like an African tribal mask.

LBG:  (thinking about blog) That’s nice.

SM:  No it isn’t!

LBG:  (without missing a beat) That’s terrible!

Thank goodness Sainted Mother has a sense of humor!  So much so that she got me a little Happy Hamster button for Christmas, in honor of the picture of a hamster that I posted not too long ago.  It’s just a big button with a picture of a manically grinning hamster on it, and if you press it, it says things like “A happiness train just left the station, and it’s coming right at you!  Choo choo happy train!”  It was actually my favorite gift.

I threw the bag I put it in on the floor of the car and that was enough to trigger the hamster button, and I got this vivid mental picture of my Sainted Mother on her way here, in the car for several hours, with that hamster button packed away in the back and pushing up against something every time she made a turn or stopped suddenly.  “You deserve to be happy–you’re turning left!”  “It’s so happy to have to brake suddenly because the a**hole in front of you doesn’t know how to drive!  Happy happy happy!” All I can say is, to listen to that for hours and still smile, she must really love me.  Either that or she finally lost the rest of her marbles and went to her…happy place?

So here’s to family during the holidays, still glad to see you even after the holiday preparations have driven them out of their minds.  Because that’s how you can tell who really loves you, isn’t it?

Oh, my sainted mother!

Trivial Pursuit

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One Christmas, my sister and I were playing Trivial Pursuit with our mother.  Our sainted mother is many things:  intelligent, talented, brave, funny.  But even she would admit that she’s not hip.  She’s not with it, street-wise, down with the kids.  She got all the science and literature questions, but the pop culture questions were proving to be her undoing.

So when she came to the question, “What East Coast rapper was killed as a result of a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997?”, Big Sis and I both just assumed she wouldn’t know it and moved on to the next turn.  Sainted Mother stopped us and said, “Hey, give me a chance.  I might know it.”  We assured her that she had no chance of getting it right, but she insisted that she wanted at least to try.

So we asked her, and she said, “Oh, is that that Biggie Smalls person?”

!

Sainted Mother, we will never doubt you again.

Some days are harder than others

Most days, I’m not afraid of going blind.  I’ve heard words of doom pronounced before, only to be rescinded, and I know when to panic and when not to.  I’m doing what I should be doing to preserve the vision I have, and there are new developments all the time that give me hope.

But some days are hard.  Some days I get so scared, thinking that the darkness is going to fall at some point and never lift again.  There will be a sunset that will be the last one I see, a ray of light that will falter and fade until the shadows swallow it completely, until they swallow me completely.  I’ll never see the sun again, never see another flower, never see the faces of the people I love.  I’ll walk in darkness for the rest of my life.  I know, I know that there’s so much that’s worse.  I could be dying.  This could be happening to someone I love, instead of to me.  But when I wake up in the middle of the night to pitch black and think, someday this is what the world will look like to me at noon, that doesn’t help much.

I love light.  I love the sun, the way it can be so far away, spinning and burning, and still light up entire worlds.  I love daffodils, which I’ve always thought look like sunlight made into a flower.  I love to see my niece’s face and how it changes as she grows, always more beautiful every time I see her, and it breaks my heart that I may not be able to see her as a woman.  I want to see her face.  I want to see the face of my sister when she looks at her daughter.  How often do you get to see happiness absolutely undiluted?  But I’ve seen it.  How can it be that I may someday never see it again?

But I can hear my niece laugh.  I can hear my sister joking with her and being stern with her and loving her; I can hear her father being so funny and patient and good-hearted, and I don’t need to see any of them to know what kind of a woman she’s going to be with parents like that.  I can recognize amazing in any language, with my eyes closed and both hands behind my back.  And I have time to memorize the faces of everyone I love.  I have time to sit by the daffodils and see the way they bloom as if they’re reaching for something, maybe reaching for the sun, like me.  I promise you, I will be watching the sun come up every day I can still see it and I’ll turn my face to the sky like those daffodils, and when my eyes fail me altogether I may walk in darkness, but I’ll dream of light.

I’m grateful for the time, and I’m grateful that it isn’t worse.  It’s just hard to be brave when you know what’s coming, and it comes little by little every day.