I’ll never forget the first time I saw him. The room was dark with only a little light from the afternoon sun filtering through the pulled curtains. There he sat in an old wooden straight back chair…an imposing sight to behold.
He was a big man, white hair with matching colored mustache, eyes closed. His large, wrinkled and frail hand was resting on the top of a white cane.
“Go, see him” my aunt said as she gave me a gentle nudge toward him. I dug my heels in further like a stubborn mule and buried my head in the folds of my mother’s dress.
No way, not me! I’m not going over there close to him. Who is this man?
As if she could read my mind, my aunt spoke, “he’s your great grandfather. He wants to see you.” If he wanted to see me, why did he have his eyes closed?
I watched as my two younger sisters stood, one on either side, each looking like they would burst into tears at any moment. With his fingers he traced their eyebrows, nose, cheeks, lips and felt of their hair. They both looked like wooden Indians, afraid to move.
Again, my aunt nudged and more lovingly encouraged me to go meet him. This time my mom joined forces with her. I was fighting a losing battle. They each took a hand and walked me toward where he sat in the old wooden chair at the foot of his bed, me balking every step of the way.
He began to gently trace my facial features the same way he did my sisters. He felt my long, black hair that was down to my waist. “Oh, she has beautiful hair.” How does he know…his eyes are still closed.
He hugged me, then opened the lid of a big trunk beside him. He reached in and got some candy and handed it to me and my sisters. Is he Santa Claus?
That was the first time I met my great grandfather. I found out when I got older that he was blind. He used the white cane to walk and not bump into things. He lost his eyesight when he was a young man. His neighbor’s barn caught on fire and he went and helped get all his animals and horses out…the heat from the fire destroyed his eyesight.
He lived to be 93 years old. I only saw him a few more times in his life. He had done a kind deed for his neighbor and it cost him something…his eyesight.
Sometimes doing the right thing may cost us something, but doing right is always right.
What do you think?