Mary Cooney-Glazer

CELEBRATION

The 31-year-old memory of our first date on Thanksgiving eve is still bright and fresh. Every year we manage to celebrate that night, full of laughter and surprises and, even though we didn‘t recognize it then, the beginning of long-lasting love.

He had called a few days before. At first, I said that I couldn’t take the time for dinner that night because I was having a crowd for the holiday meal and was behind schedule. No talented cook, then or now, I thought that I couldn’t spare a minute, never mind the entire evening.

He told me that it was his birthday, and he didn’t want to be by himself. He tempted me further by suggesting a lovely Boston restaurant. Later, he confessed that he had fibbed about the exact date. It had been several days before. But the white lie worked. I couldn’t bear to think that anybody would be alone on a birthday.

Snow had coated the streets lightly, and I walked carefully on seldom worn three-inch heels. He offered an arm and his tall athlete’s body gave me the steadiness I needed on the cobblestones.

The soft candlelight in the restaurant reflected off the thick white linen and silver. He was out to impress, and indeed, he did.

His strong face was pleasant as we chatted easily, and his smile began in his hazel eyes. His full head of prematurely white hair made him look striking rather than old.

Looks were not very important to me. I was always more interested in someone with brains and personality, and he had both. But being handsome didn’t hurt, and he was that.

Both of us were over 30, and had dated a lot of nice people, but we were still comfortably unattached. Unexpectedly, something wonderful started that night, and we married in six months.

Ever since, we’ve managed to honor that first date. It’s during the busy holiday time, and I’m still usually behind schedule, but we fit in a special celebration. We take time just for each other, and we both savor how lucky we were to have met.

This year was different, I thought.

My bug arrived the week of Thanksgiving, along with a red nose, hacking cough and high fever. Almost never afflicted with that sort of thing, I was a terrible patient.

I whined. I complained that my ailment was deathly, and I drooped around in huge flannels with tissues dropping from the oversize sleeves. My watery eyes, naked face, and flattened hair completed the picture.

Thanksgiving festivities had to be cancelled, and our first-date celebration looked doomed.

As I threw a small turkey breast into the oven trying to avoid coughing into the stuffing, I turned to my husband and said, “I feel like roadkill. I must look terrible.” I was looking for sympathy, but I got something better.

“I love you anyway,” he said, hugging me and looking like he was telling the truth. I smiled through another sneeze and rejoiced. After 31 years we were still celebrating.

© Mary Cooney-Glazer, July 2010

The Lady and the Cataract

Cataract surgery? “It’s nothing.”  “Over before you know it!”  “No problem.  You won’t even know you had it done.” “Minor inconvenience.”

That’s what everybody said about cataract surgery.  They were right about the surgery itself.  It was fast, easy, and painless. However, about the recovery?    They lied about it, every last one!

Do you have any idea how often you bend over during the day?  Neither did I, until I was told not to bend over for a week so there would be no pressure on the eye.  Cats need feeding.  Shoes need to be put on.  Don’t even ask about getting into the necessaries to get dressed in the morning.  And do you know how often you drop stuff?

I know, I know, you think that you don’t drop stuff.  Yeah you do.

A knife slips out of your hand on the way to the dishwasher; your glasses slide to the floor; and on and on.  Speaking of the dishwasher, you need to figure out how to bend from your less-than-super-flexible knees, not from your waist, to put dishes in there without lowering your head more than a couple of inches.

You toss your purse on the floor.  But, you can’t bend, so you improvise and use the hanger to snag the purse, lifting it enough to grasp without bending from the waist.

Do the washing.  That blasted washer tub is deep.  Find the trusty hanger again, the stiff plastic one that will hook the bloody clothes so that you can get them out with your head upright.

Give the old knees a workout again getting the stuff into the dryer, and then out, keeping your back straight and head up.  Oh yes.  This is all better than physical therapy.

You get good at doing things with your toes.  It’s amazing just what you can pick up when the slobs in the house drop stuff on the floor.  You can spot clean with a limber foot too, then lift the paper towel toward your hand while holding onto the sink for dear life, with your back straight and head up. That prevents doing damage to the rest of you while keeping your surgeried eye on the road to recovery!

Then there’s the not getting your now cataract-free eye wet or it might fall out.  That goes on for a week.  You make changes in your face-washing routine and showering position.  I rigged up an apparatus, something like a welder’s mask, with a plastic bag and the cataract glasses, when the oil build-up on my hair got intolerable.  People say to get someone to help you while you tilt back in the chair getting your hair gently washed and rinsed.  Those people have not met my erratic sink sprayer hose.  Nor have they made the acquaintance of my retired hubby who is not at his most coordinated when doing his lady’s hair at six in the morning.

And you can’t lift anything over five pounds for a week or so.  You’d be amazed at how much of what you lug is over five pounds, starting with your handbag. No planting with that new potting soil that you had planned to drag from the garage to the back yard.  But, never mind, you couldn’t bend to dig anyhow.

You negotiate with folks to take out the trash, empty the litter boxes, and haul in the groceries.  This is where a long-suffering husband or a good friend is very handy.

And there are the drops.  Four times a day, three meds, one drop each in the eye, for one week.  Then it gets easier. You only have one med, same routine.  Keep that schedule when you work.  And pray that there’s someplace private and clean where you can peer into a mirror and administer the meds to yourself.  Don’t contaminate the rim of the drop bottle with your fingers or disaster happens.  I scrubbed my hands raw so that any part of them that might have touched the rim despite my best efforts was sterile.

Then there are some recovery issues you may not have anticipated.  The eye has some shadows and flashes now and then.  Everybody you know says they had a perfect recovery.  But, as a dedicated hysteric and nurse who knows too much, every passing symptom portends doom.  I know more than most doctors about the problems that can happen.  I have carefully researched on the internet for all of them. But my eye surgeon is a very kind man with Zen patience.  He reexamines, calmly reassures, and the problems pass.

But getting used to having one very good eye and one old eye with another mild cataract is full of surprises!

 

The old one lets you see everything with a warm pinkish-beige glow.  Pinkish- beige is flattering to mature ladies.  Because the vision is clouded, the unrepaired eye sees things through a soft focus too. That’s another plus when looking in the mirror in the morning.

 

The fixed eye sees mercilessly.  Think HDTV.  Creases turn up where you never saw them before. That baby smooth flawless skin you thought the make-up that you paid way too much for gave you?  Not so much.  You’ve dealt with the eye doc. Now you’re seriously checking out docs that do the laser and the crease fillers.

 

But, it’s wonderful to see really well.  Things are bright and sharp.  Driving at night is a breeze again with that awful headlight glare gone. You can see the crawlers on TV programs.  The dust bunnies in the house are in clear relief.

 

Colors are vivid.  This has some implications for putting outfits together.  Beige tops were probably white, and those blue-grays have become clear blue. You can tell the difference between navy and black now, but no worries, most folks your age can’t, so it’s still OK to mix them.

 

And then it’s done.  The drops are over, your vision has gotten to where it was years ago and you’ve gotten over the shock of looking at your real self.  It’s not so bad, really, with more new makeup.  You’re safe on the road at night. This is all good.

 

The eye doc starts making suggestions about doing the other eye, which has become annoying because it’s not clear.  The aggravation is forgotten.  Is it worth it?

 

Maybe so, when my husband recovers from my first cataract.

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Published on July 6, 2010 at 5:01 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very well-written, lovely story, especially for those of us who remember it!

  2. I felt as though I was there–from snow to turkey (ahhhchoo!). Great descriptions which really set the stage. A creative yet well-edited piece. Time has demonstrated that author’s husband made a fantastic choice!

  3. Beautifully written and it warmed all the corners of my heart.

  4. A great short story. I wanted it to go on and on. Warm and touching. Even more than that—heartfelt and lovely.


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