Over at People for Others, a Week of Gratitude based on the five senses has begun. Be sure to take a look at ALL the photos in Jane Knuth's entry today, and read Paul Campbell's on great art and nature as well.
My grandmother lost most of her sight to cataracts and macular degeneration in the last decade of her life. I'm not sure how much of any of us she could see by the time we celebrated her 100th birthday. Since she had also lost most of her hearing, it was almost as if she and her radiant mind were entombed in a world of darkness and silence.
My grandmother taught me to see things both small and large.
Small: We spent time birding together, here in Ohio and along the eastern coast of Florida. As she began to lose her hearing in her seventies, she had to rely increasingly upon her eyesight. One of the more bizarre effects of her loss of hearing was that birds often materialized in her field of vision far from where she expected to see them, based upon the seeming origin of song.
Large: She took me to Europe and made sure that I saw great cathedrals and great works of art and great plays. She took me out west, where she learned to ride a horse so that we could see the wilderness from within and the mountains from the trails.
Hand-held: My grandmother was a voracious reader, a trait that is apparently genetic. And she raised huge beds of glorious flowers, a skill that is apparently not.
Ironic: My grandmother was a beautiful woman and created a comfortable and inviting home, but she had little interest in self or home décor, and no flair for either. She dressed plainly, wore her gray hair in a simple bun, and commented once that the house would probably fall down around her if my grandfather did not point out its needs from time to time. Almost all of her visual attention was directed outward: to her family, to her reading, to nature, to grand buildings and art and drama, to the whole wide world.
And so, when I ponder gratitude for sight, I am most grateful for the grandmother who shared her vision with me. And for the Atlantic coast we so enjoyed together: