You never really miss something you take for granted until it’s gone. I can’t imagine not being able to hear music (which has always been important in my life) or not being able to walk about freely (also been a part of my life since I was 1.) But the last few months I have been unable to read for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s a temporary problem with my cataract lens which will be resolved permanently in a week. The process was described to me; “It’s like going through a car wash.” Soon my vision will be back to normal rather than 2200/40 sight that I’m dealing with now.
A few thoughts:
- First and foremost is how lucky I am! Not only is this problem resolvable, but in the meantime, I can enlarge the font on my computer to read and send emails and check out the news (as depressing as that is, I still like to know what’s going on).
- Second, dear friends gave me a present of the Saturday Wall Street Journal and although my eyes tire too quickly to read the small print, I have a nice stack of reviews and articles saved for me to savor in the not too distant future.
- And lastly, I’m fortunate to have medical insurance. I don’t know how people survive without it. Actually, I do. They make do, like my neighbor Randy who is my age yet hobbles to work on two bum knees because he needs to pay rent and feed his family before even thinking about knee replacement.
But enough about me. Reading.
It saddened me at our recent family reunion when my 14-year-old great niece said she didn’t like to read. What? How could we be related? Her mom said that she doesn’t like it in school when teachers tell her what to read and always have a list of questions – it’s more like homework. I get it. That’s the same reason I don’t enjoy the ever- popular Book Club. If you like, suggest a title or better yet an author that you’ve discovered, and I can then add it to my list (or not). I definitely think reading should be done at one’s own pace and a book of one’s own choosing (think ice cream shop – do you really want someone to tell you what flavor and how many scoops?)
My siblings all like to read. I don’t remember any major discussions around the dinner table but clearly the groundwork started back in the day. I remember my 10th grade French teacher calling my mother to warn her that I was reading Another Country by James Baldwin, something she presumed inappropriate. My mother just shook her head and went about fixing dinner.
A great frustration and sadness with my sister’s terminal illness was her loss of the ability to read, even large print. During one of many stints visiting her in an ICU, I remember reading to her.
Reading to someone may be a lost art (other than sharing a quote from Facebook or a clip from a magazine). I think it’s gift for both parties and something we shouldn’t wait for incapacitation to share.
My eyes are tired now. I feel the strain, so I’ll “save” and “share” later and look forward to the stacks of books throughout the house waiting for me with a new appreciation of the gift of reading.