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Linda’s Letters: 2020, visual acuity and vanity

OK. 2020.

If you’re talking about vision, 20/20 means you have perfect vision. Right?

Wrong, oh buffalo breath.

When the optometrist says that you have “20/20 vision” he is referring to your visual acuity, which is the clarity or sharpness of your vision. When the doctor tests for 20/20 visual acuity he is testing how well your eyes can see an object at a distance of 20 feet. If you can see the letters clearly, then you are considered to have “normal vision.”

If you’re talking about the television show “20/20”, you must mean the ABC television newsmagazine that features in-depth story packages and focuses on human interest stories. They came up with the name of the show because they wanted to shed “visual acuity” on the important stories of the day.

Which brings me to the year, 2020. Is this the year of “visual acuity?”

Time will tell.

So far, it’s been a bad year. I shouldn’t have to explain why unless you’ve been living under a rock, in a cave, in the deepest, most remote area of Siberia. All I need to say is “COVID-19” and that should be sufficient.

Oh, I could go on and on about the “visual acuity,” or the lack of, in our society throughout this year, but I will leave that to those with a higher acumen than I possess.

No, I’m going to tell you a little pandemic story of my own instead that deals with “visual acuity” and another well-known phrase, “Vanity, thy name is woman!”

It all began in January 2020 when I turned 69. 69!!!!!!!!! That’s one year away from 70!!!!!! Seventy years is OLD! Right? Forget that I don’t feel 70. Forget that people tell me I don’t look a day over 50. (Oh vanity, thy name is woman …)

But, 2020 reared its ugly head and whacked me right between my eyes! Which, I might add, I do not have 20/20 vision. It improved a lot after I had my cataracts removed, but … OMG! An “old person” condition!

I won’t bore you with the fact that this year I suffered with Bell’s palsy, a broken toe, a painful bout of gout, and was told I have severe arthritis in my back. Arthritis? Egads! Another “old person” aliment!

Do you remember when you were young and every old person you knew only talked about their pains, their pills and doctor visits? I swore that would never be me.

Well, that horse rode right into my corral totally uninvited. Here’s the thing. All my Buckaroos are turning 70. They’re dropping like flies. And when we get together, what do we talk about? Kids, grandkids, COVID, face masks, and what pills we’re taking, who’s had a knee or hip replacement and they can’t make lunch next Tuesday because they have a doctor appointment.

My friend Betty told me that someone at physical therapy made the comment about these being the “Golden Years.” Another person responded by saying, “No, not the Golden Years. These are the ‘Rustic Years.’?”

Rustic my gouty foot! RUSTY is more like it! I have to keep the oil can next to the bed to get me moving in the morning!

Then on top of it all, I lost my beloved pool to a horrendous rogue March wind.

OK. My pool was 33 years old. I’m told that may be a record for an aboveground swimming pool. That’s like 150 in pool years. I attribute its longevity to my amazing Pool Boy, aka Harry. But still, it was an extremely painful loss.

Nope. I’m not going to bore you with all my “rusty” stories. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the other worst thing that happened to me this year so far. (You notice I said, “So far.” The way we’re going, I am not optimistic.)

I’ll preface this with, I am not a morning person. Never was, never will be. When we first got married, I warned Harry that he should never expect Little Miss Sunshine or Farrah Fawcett to greet him each day.

So early one morning in late July, I woke up to the most excruciating pain. I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say, an ambulance was called.

Now I don’t know about you, but if you need an ambulance, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is washing your face, brushing your teeth, fixing your hair, plucking a week’s worth of chin hairs you kept putting off because who goes anywhere in a pandemic, and applying false eyelashes before they wheeled you out of there.

So there I was, lying in the ER. I told Harry that if I were a horse, he could have shot me and put me out of my misery. Boy. Little did I know Jesse James was just around the corner with a loaded gun.

In walked this perky little physician assistant and chirped, “Hi there, Mrs. Koehler.” I saw her glance over at Harry.

Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down?

“Are you her son?” she asked.

Oh vanity, thy name is woman.

Forget the severe sciatica pain. She had thrust a dagger deep into my heart.

Or maybe I had just tried to sit up too fast so I could throttle the PA who was obviously blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other!

Practicing my Lamaze breathing, counting to 50, I calmly replied, “My SON? Well, you just made my HUSBAND’s day.”

What I really wanted to say was, “Hey, Tootsie, you try not going to the hairdresser for five months to cover up your gray hair and then wake up one day with a voodoo witch doctor sticking pins in your back, buttocks and leg and see what you look like first thing in the morning.”

So if my husband of almost 49 years, who is 70 years old, looked like my son, that would have made me look like I was 90 years old!

Perhaps she was suffering from a lack of “visual acuity?”

Oh, and that quote, “Vanity, thy name is woman”? It has been attributed to Shakespeare when in reality, the accurate quote is “Frailty, thy name is woman,” from the play “Hamlet.”

Well, the moral of this story is, Shakespeare should have said it because it is true. I learned an ugly truth about myself … “I’m so vain. I probably think this song is about me. I’m soooo vain, I probably think this song is about me, ’bout me, ’bout me …”

Sheesh. I gotta get out of the house more. Please 2021, please come rescue us!