Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Blindness Blindness.

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I’m a visual person and so grateful for the gift of sight. Something happened recently that served as an exquisite reminder of what a wonder it is to be able to see. I mean really see the world around us. From the miniscule to the monumental. From the fine grains of sand beneath our feet to the infinite stars that dust the midnight sky above our heads. And every extraordinary remarkable astonishing breathtaking thing in between.

What was the catalyst for this reawakening?

Recently, my Big Sis (aka BS) had a cataract removed from her right eye, the worst of the two afflicted by the disease. Her ability to see had grown increasingly dire over the past several years. Both close-up, and from afar, things were cloudy with a slight chance of rain.

Needless to say, our family was delighted, and quite frankly, relieved when the first cataract was removed. She was halfway to having her vision fully restored. Her eyes had been revised and she was given a shot at second sight.

Despite the challenges of our relationship, I love BS dearly and couldn’t wait for her to see things. But what I quickly realized was that her vision might have been restored but her ability to see had not. Her eyes were functioning physically but she could not see.

At a family dinner a few days after the surgery, she gushed exuberantly about all the things she could now see so well, the unbelievable things that her cataracts had kept hidden from her these past few years. It was such a marvel, a revelation beyond revelations.

The list was endless and exhausting. Dust on furniture, dirt in corners, scratches on vehicles, wrinkles on faces, blemishes on skin, grey in hair, cracks in walls, nicks on floors. On and on it went.

At first I found it rather humorous. But humor quickly changed to dismay, as this list appeared to be growing with each day that her vision improved.

And right now, as I write this, I just feel sad.

We live in such a lavish and graciously abundant universe. There is so much to see. So much awe-inspiring wonderment surrounds us. Although this particular wake-up call and reminder from BS, whose focus these past few weeks has been off-kilter and categorically on all the wrong things, was disturbing I cannot point the finger at her without pointing three back at myself.

In searching the darkest crevices of my heart, I know I’m just as bad. We’re one and the same, and not because we share DNA. We both lose sight of the big picture sometimes, and that has nothing to do with being sisters.

Far too often I have indulged in focusing on the flaws, the imperfections, the defects and deficiencies. I’ve been on faultfinding missions of epic proportions. I’ve only seen the lack and scarcity. Not enough. Half empty. I’ve squandered my vision carelessly. Recklessly. Audaciously.

And worse yet, I’ve taken it for granted.

I’ve chosen that impaired perspective over seeing the bounty and the plenty. The cornucopia. The beautiful. The splendor. The kind.

And most importantly, the good.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Fountain of Youth.

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Dear Beautiful Sarah Jane,

You saw my photograph and asked me, “If I found the fountain of youth?” On the one hand I took this to be a wonderful compliment, but I also saw this as an earnest question worthy of thoughtful reflection and consideration. It is however, a bit like asking, “what’s the secret or meaning of life?” The short answer is, “I don’t know.”

The Fountain of Youth is something I’m not in search of. Perhaps that’s the secret to finding it. Stop looking. What a gorgeous paradox this is.

I am now safely on the other side of young. But it wasn’t necessarily an easy journey getting here. Learning to accept that I am aging. Growing older in this Earth Suit that will one day expire. Accepting the changes to the way I look has at times been difficult. I’m still startled and spooked by the old woman who stares hauntingly at me in the mirror. But thankfully I’m less preoccupied these days with hanging onto the young “me” I once was. I am now more interested in being well, in particular, well in my soul. Could be another secret Sarah Jane.

This is who I am now.

Today, in this photograph, I look like this. Some days I look worse. Tragic even. Rod Stewart put it best in his song Maggie May, “the morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age.” It’s true. Morning light can be a real buzz kill to an old broad like me. Ah, but afternoon light, after a good night’s sleep and a cup of chai tea with someone you love, works miracles. One more secret maybe Sarah Jane.

I have always looked younger than my age. Possibly because I’m physically small and spiritually large. I look inwards more than outwards. I explore fearlessly my interior world and let the exterior grow out of that. I meditate and do yoga every day. Is there some clue in this practice Sarah Jane?

I eat well and wisely most of the time. But then I also devoured a big bag of Lays potato chips last night. I never go to bed with makeup on. I brush my teeth three times a day. Take vitamins. Drink gallons of water daily. Laugh out loud a lot. I burp like a pig. I play music. Sing in the shower. Sit in the shade on sunny days. Go for long walks up country roads. I take tons of pictures on my cell phone. Read books and write something every day. I keep my mind open to the possibilities. Pursue wisdom and knowledge. I never stop learning. And most importantly, I hang out with dogs and good people of all ages. A secret there perchance Sarah Jane?

I love fashion. But ironically hate to shop, unless I’m with “my girls.” Then it’s fun. Especially if we stop for lunch and gossip. I do love clothes though. I’ve learned that if worn well, they cover up a whole host of not-so-pretty issues that develop as you age. Some people probably think I dress inappropriately for my age. I say fuck them. Or that I’m too old to wear my hair so long and dye it red. I say fuck those people too. I swear. And I’m unapologetic. I don’t know if there’s a secret in that Sarah Jane.

Then there’s just plain old luck and good genes. My mother was Italian. She was small physically, spiritually large and had beautiful flawless skin all the days of her life. She also dyed her hair jet black right up until the very end when she was too ill to do so. She taught me all the things I have just shared with you. Except she didn’t swear.

One last thing Sarah Jane, my sweet butterfly. Stay fierce about life in all its colors and complexities. Never let go of your curiosity and always stay close to the ones you love.

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Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Wide-eyed Wonder.

 

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The exquisite thing about aging is the reawakening of wide-eyed wonder.

All the oohs and aahs of life seen through my own magical gaze. And not those of my children or grandchildren.

For decades I saw everything through the eyes of the young in my charge. Enchanting as the dust of fairies. Dazzling as the diamonds in the sky. All things spellbinding and sparkly, cast from the wands of wizards.

I saw it all through their crystal-clear unfettered perspective. It was a beautiful awe-inspiring view. A sacred privilege, the memory of which I hold dear in my mind’s eye, and as close to my heart as humanly possibly.

But now, all things fascinating, enthralling and magnificent, dreamy and delightful are again fresh and new, heaven-sent and divine.

Like never before.

I see the world around me as if for the very first time, with my own precious child-eyes. It fills my heart with such gladness.