Again, I have been given the opportunity to reminisce about my mother. Several days ago I had cataract surgery. Soon I will have cataract surgery on my other eye. Just a short appointment, quick recovery, and voila, good eyesight. Maybe even no prescription eye glasses needed once my other eye is done. Just that simple.
Mom’s eyes developed cataracts at a pretty young age. I was ten when she had surgery, which would have made her 50 years old. 1965 was the year. This surgery wasn’t simple and my mom wasn’t particularly enthused about the whole process.
The surgery was performed in a hospital 30 miles north of our home town. Not a large hospital, not a large town. But Mom trusted that surgeon. She was hospitalized for a few days. Yes, hospitalized for cataract surgery. For days. I believe she had to lie flat on her back for a lot of those days. She came home with a patch over her eye that remained for quite a few days. And there was discomfort involved.
My patient easy going mom did not enjoy one bit of this experience. But like she always said…. “This too shall pass”. And it did. Well, sort of.
There was no lens implant involved in cataract surgery at that time in history. No, her lens was removed, but the procedure of implanting a corrective lens hadn’t been perfected yet. Instead, eyeglasses with large round extremely thick magnifying lenses right in the center of the framed glass were the only option. Heavy, cumbersome, unattractive, and imperfect vision correction. But better than blindness. Although actually she really was totally blind without those pop bottle thick lenses in her glasses.
Mom did recover from surgery and returned to her normal life. Work, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, etc. Her only complaint was her appearance. Those glasses. She was embarrassed by how those odd looking thick lenses impacted her appearance. And at the same time deeply grateful to be able to see.
Truthfully, though, they magnified the best part of her. Those beautiful eyes. You couldn’t miss them with the magnifying lenses she had to wear.
My mom was beautiful. And her eyes? They were perfect. They always saw the best in me and my sisters. Because she saw us with her heart.
Sometimes my phone would ring and she’d ask me “Did you watch Little House on the Prairie tonight?” And we’d share a few tears over the phone about some fictional episode that was so good it made us cry. But those eyes of hers didn’t really cry much, and believe me she had plenty of reasons to weep over the years of her life.
One time is etched in my memory forever. December 18, 1972. Yes I remember the exact day. She and I had driven home from Salina after she had spent several days and nights with my dad who was gravely ill in the hospital there. She pulled the car into the garage and I got right out and walked into the house. After quite some time I realized she hadn’t followed me inside. I waited a few more minutes then went out to the garage. There she was in the driver’s seat, draped over the steering wheel, sobbing like I’d never heard anyone sob before. I stood back and watched her sob. Such an unfamiliar sight for me and it was hard for me to see my strong mom falling apart like that. I was 17, and I really didn’t know what to do so I waited a bit then went back into the house. She eventually came in the door, somewhat composed. Didn’t say anything, just hugged me. We crawled into her bed together to sleep that night and hugged each other to sleep. No words.
The next morning at 7am the phone rang. My sister who had spent the night with Dad called to say he had passed away. Mom came back to bed and told me, but no more tears. We had watched his poor body deteriorate over the previous two weeks. Heaven, healing….how could we want anything else for him? Not that we were exuberantly happy. Of course not. But knowing he was in Jesus’ arms perfectly whole again was truly a comfort.
Several years later it was Mom’s turn to go to heaven. It was so hard to let her go and believe me the tears flooded from my eyes over and over.
The eyes of my heart can see her in heaven. Perfectly whole, perfect vision. The eyes of my heart can see Jesus there, too. What a day that will be when our faith becomes sight. Perfect sight.
Last week a large group of Mom and Dad’s family gathered together in Colorado. On Sunday of that week, my oldest daughter brought out her guitar and we had a sing along. I can tell you, my mother was the beginning of all things music in our family. Our music on that Sunday was far far less than perfect. But it was fun and heartfelt. When we were sitting there in that beautiful place surrounded by the Creator and his amazing creation, I thought about Mom. Could she see us? Did she know we were singing praise songs, was our music reaching heaven? It felt like she was there singing along. Because the voices sounded so much like hers.
I loved Mom’s voice. But my last memory of her before she went into the hospital and passed away involved those amazing eyes. I walked into the back door of her home, through the laundry room and into the living area where I already knew she’d be sitting in her recliner with her clipboard box that Dad made me on her lap. On that clipboard would be her pencil and crossword book. Well, ONE of her many crossword books.
I stepped into the room and she looked up with those eyes. Always happy to see me. Always saw me from a heart full of love. No words needed. Such a precious memory to leave me with!
The cataract surgery I’m in the process of completing is going to correct my vision. But I want eyes that see from a heart full of love. A heart like Jesus’ and eyes like my mom’s.