Monday, January 22, 2018

The Last Time I Wore Glasses

Here's a bit of an odd thing. Today I remembered a little, not terribly important detail of my life, and wondered how I had forgotten it.

It relates, very directly indeed, to Dad's death, and it was thinking about Dad on the anniversary of his death that brought on the memory. I'd hazard a guess that I think fairly often of Mum & Dad, but I make a conscious effort to think of them on these anniversaries, partly because it feels like the right thing to do, but mainly because I enjoy it.

Today I happened to think back to my journey home from university on the day after his death. Maureen and her then husband Colin had got in touch with me somehow in my hall of residence in the morning - not an easy thing to do in the days before everyone owned their own mobile phone - we certainly didn't have the luxury of phones in our rooms - and I went back to Manchester by train, arriving at Gresham Street in the afternoon. They didn't tell me he had already died, just that I had to come home right away, and I know I was thinking of the worst as I went back. Dad had been seriously ill with emphysema, amongst other things, for quite a while, so the idea of a crisis didn't completely surprise me.

Looking back now I realise how young he actually was when the crisis happened. Even given his poor state of health he might have expected a good five to ten years more. But at the time I sort of accepted it as inevitable. Anyway, I was prepared for the worst when I went in the door and the worst is what I got. I guess the grief really hit me suddenly, especially with the accumulated tension of suspecting throughout the journey that the news would be bad. I cried for what must have been a good fifteen minutes, probably more, at the end of which my spectacles, which I'd kept on for some reason, were a complete stained and blurry mess.

I never wore them again. This wasn't out of some weird sense of the devastation of it all, or a peculiar version of remembrance. I'd been thinking of abandoning them for some time. I had, and have, a 'lazy' eye, my left, through which I see precious little. But the other eye somehow compensates and my normal eyesight is, well, reasonably normal. I'd discovered through many misspent evenings at the university that I played snooker a lot better without the glasses than with them and had an intuition that they weren't doing me much good. So I ditched them and, forty-something years later, I suppose the decision has been vindicated.

But I'd entirely forgotten the exact day I gave them up. And I'm sure I was wearing them regularly for 'ordinary' life until that day. I must have worn them on the train to get them all messed up when Maureen broke the news. I reckon a psychoanalyst would make something of the day I came out from behind my glasses, and perhaps the psych would be right to do so. I didn't cry again, by the way, after that initial outburst. I suppose I was too busy trying to do everything in the right way and, as I say, I sort of accepted it all. Still do, except for the obvious truth that the dead never die at all in memory.

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