Life with Liz: Bringing life into focus
My electronic devices have allowed me to postpone the inevitable for a few months, but recently, thanks to a short break in the action and the time to sit down and read some proper books, I finally had to accept reality: I needed reading glasses.
I’ve been in denial for about a year. Last year, a major work project had me spending hours and hours at a time working on my laptop. Things started to get a little fuzzy and then started to stay fuzzy, even after short breaks. At first, I just adjusted the scale of things. Bumping my graphics up 4 or 10% was enough to fix things. When my cellphone needed replacing, I opted for the larger screen size, just so I could blow things up a little larger. The zoom feature became my best friend.
I hoped that when the work project wound down, my eyes would bounce back. As summer progressed, though, that didn’t seem to be happening. Pretty soon, I found myself doing that move where I held whatever needed to be read in my hand and stretched it out as far as I could. Back and forth, in and out, eventually, I could make out the details on a label or in a recipe. So, there were a few slip ups … adding ¼ instead of ½. When you’re talking teaspoons, that kind of measurement doesn’t really matter that much. However, when it comes to cups, that can significantly ruin dinner or worse, dessert.
I still had one more option, one more way to ignore my weakening eyesight.
“Hey kids, can you come read this for me?”
Like most things, at first this was fun. The three of them would fight to be the one who got to read to mom or help make dinner with mom. It didn’t take long until it got old, though, and finally, it dawned on one of them to not-so-gently suggest that maybe I needed glasses.
Not to worry, though, I thought of one more trick and my handy, dandy phone came to the rescue again. It was simple to snap a picture of a label or recipe and zoom, zoom, zoom away. I bought myself a few more months of denial.
This summer has been hectic, and between moving and sport and camp schedules, we knew we weren’t going on a big vacation; however, the boys had a weeklong tournament in central New York. E and I planned to join them about halfway through the week for a few days of rest and relaxation.
I eagerly stopped at the library to pick up a stack of books I haven’t been able to read in the past year. I added that to the books that friends had given me to read, and I pictured a few lazy days of sleeping in and spending the day poolside reading.
On our first morning, I couldn’t even sleep in, I was so excited to delve into my books. I cracked open the first book, a cheesy beach read by Elin Hilderbrand, and squinted. Then I stretched the book out. Then I rolled over to the side of the bed and set the book on the floor, peering down at it. I propped the book up against some pillows and sat on the other end of the bed. I opened the drapes and turned on every light in the room, much to E’s dismay. It was no use: I could not comfortably see the words on the page.
I knew what I had to do. I dragged a sleepy, cranky E out of bed and headed to the Target that was conveniently located a half mile from the hotel. Her mood drastically improved when she saw where we were headed but returned to full-blown grump when she realized that my mission did not include browsing for fun stuff for her.
Wanting to find something cheap (I was still sure this was just a temporary thing) and yet cute, I made her watch my try on 20 different pairs of glasses.
“Ugh, Mom, they all look the same,” she said, “just get the purple ones,” clearly not taking her job as fashion consultant very seriously. Ultimately, she was right, though. The purple pair was the funkiest, and I figured if I had to do this, I may as well embrace it and have some fun.
Back to the hotel we went, E to the pool, and me to a lounge chair, where I finally settled into my book, the letters large and clear. Hours passed, and I was relaxed and enjoying the Nantucket exploits in my book. Before I knew it, it was lunch time. E stood over me, dripping wet.
“Mom, let’s go to lunch!” I realized she was right, and I was starving. So, up I jumped, and whoa! The whole world was a giant blur, which is not a good thing when you’re standing on a slippery pool deck.
I was sure I was having a stroke or something worse. As I struggled to get my bearings and tried to remain calm, I heard E’s voice. “Mom, I do think those glasses are pretty cool after all,” she said. Of course: the glasses! I whipped them off and phew, the world returned to normal. This process was going to take some getting used to. At least I wasn’t the absent-minded woman wandering around with her glasses on top of her head. No, I was the one walking into doors because I couldn’t remember they were still on my face.
It’s been a few days now, and I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of them. I still have some issues, like when I leave them perched on my head and then mistake them for my sunglasses. (I only did that once while driving.) Dinner is back to tasting like it should and maybe the squint line between my eyebrows will fade away eventually. I probably shouldn’t have procrastinated as long as I did, but getting old is tough enough, admitting that it’s happening is harder. Then again, getting old is certainly better than the alternative.
Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.