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Aging--Not Sure How Gracefully

By Belinda

Aging: It is when all those things you secretly laughed at in other people who were stereo-typically "older"--things you adamantly said you would never do; appendages or accessories you thought that you would never wear --aging is when those very things suddenly become part of YOUR identity. 

The last year has been one of recovering my vision. This time last year I was literally half blind. One eye went through a rapid decline in vision and I needed to get my eyes tested. But I put it off (because I am a procrastinator) until I began to worry that something was seriously wrong. While at a doctor's appointment for a physical, I asked him to take a look at my right eye. 

"Oh, yes, you have a cataract," he said, as though confirming something I should know. 

"Me? I'm too young for a cataract," I thought but didn't say. 

I mean I had only just the year before, lost all semblance of mystique in the bedroom by adding a C-PAP machine to my nighttime routine. Obviously the benefits far outweighed the loss of pride, and I learned to put up with the wise cracks that came my way. Yes, the force is with me! 

But now--a cataract?

I went through the lengthy process of tests and preoperative preparations, and to my happy surprise, the result of the surgery was near miraculous. Suddenly and immediately, I could see again, and without any corrective lens in that eye. It was wonderful. The eye surgeon smiles now when he sees me coming for check ups and says I am his happiest patient.

There was only one slight problem. Now both eyes were quite different and drug store reading glasses no longer worked well. I do a lot of computer work and love to read, but reading was so exhausting that I found the urge to sleep creeping up after a few minutes.

Finally last week I got a new lens for the other eye to even them out, and excitedly bought some new drug store reading glasses. 

There are reading glasses all over our house. Like a clear plastic crop, they sprout randomly in the bathroom; the kitchen; the den; my purse; my office. Because heaven forbid I should ever be without a pair--I can't see a thing that is small without them. 

Today I was sitting in a morning meeting alternating between looking at a Powerpoint presentation without glasses, and reaching for them to read the handouts, when the unthinkable crossed my mind. I thought of those cord thingies that "old" people wear around their necks with glasses hanging from them. "That would be so handy," I found myself thinking.

My route back to the office would take me right past a Shoppers Drug Mart store and I could hardly wait to go get one of those cords for myself. The unthinkable had become very thinkable!

While hunting around a rack of glasses for the cords, which were skillfully hidden from view (but I wasn't wearing glasses so who knows?) I noticed magnifying glasses. My brother Rob has one of those and uses it regularly, even to read the paper. I thought of how handy it would be to have one in my purse for those moments in a grocery store when you want to read a label that looks like it was printed for some microscopic species of beings. 

I marched to the check out, cord and magnifying glass in hand and confessed to the man behind the counter that it was a terrible thing to be getting old. He said with a big smile, "Hey you weren't planning to use the cord with the magnifying glass were you?"

Very funny!

I attached my glasses to the cord in the car, and for the rest of the afternoon basked in the convenience of only having to reach to my chest for a pair of glasses. No picking up papers to look underneath for my glasses. I humbly repented of all of my mocking thoughts of the past on the subject.

Later in the afternoon I was at the photocopier, trying to assist a support staff in enlarging the print in order to photocopy something for someone who can't read small print. We were both stymied. For the life of me I couldn't figure out how to enlarge the copy and neither could she. Then I remembered what I had in my purse. I retrieved it with triumph and handed it to the person needing the large print--my magnifying glass. He was thrilled!

It was probably overkill for me--for the present at least. :)

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