The new year has many of us making resolutions as to what we hope to accomplish in the next 365 days or less. I suppose there are some people who fulfill their resolutions, but for most, they are forgotten soon after they are made. Although the attempt to achieve a desired result in a certain time frame may not happen, it is our hope, faith, and belief in the positive that has us making resolutions year after year. It is hope, faith and my grandfather that this article is about.
My granddad was a very tall, slender man. I always remember him with thinning grey, then white, hair. He wore gold wire-rimmed glasses and behind them were pale blue-grey eyes. I never thought of his eyes as being particularly special until later.
Granddad was a soft-spoken man. He was never loud, even when he was calling to someone from across a distance. His voice was always calm, probably from his years of dealing with children in the public schools as the principal. I never heard my granddad raise his voice in anger. My mother said he didn’t need to as he could always convey his message by a single look.
My granddad was known and respected by what seemed to be the entire town. He had been in education all his adult life and had helped many a youngster and family in need. Upon his retirement as school superintendent, people from all over came to thank him for what he had done for them. Many years later people still would drop by to see him – some just to visit and others asking for advice. They saw in his eyes a trusted friend.
His eyes, so unimpressive and yet so expressive. One look could convey a thousand words. I could see the delight in them when we would arrive for a visit, the pride in them when he would introduce us to his friends, the anger in them when he saw injustices, the joy in them when he saw the fishing pole start to bend and the float suddenly disappear under the water, and the hurt in them when he realized how cruel the world could be. His eyes displayed what his heart felt.
The next to the last time I saw my granddad many things had changed. His eyes, once the mirror to his soul, now held a strange blankness. This fiercely independent man had awakened one morning to find his sight almost totally gone and along with it his independence. I knew how hard this had been on him, yet I expected to see the same twinkle in his eyes I had always seen when I arrived with his new great-granddaughter. Or, at the very least, the hurt he was feeling for being robbed of his sight and the chance to see this new life. I was not prepared for the total void-of-emotion deadness of his eyes that belied his cheerful voice.
I watched with joy as my grandmother held my beautiful daughter singing and talking to her. I watched with sorrow as my granddad listened intently to all the goings on, but was unable to see anything more than a slight blurry outline of his precious great-granddaughter. He would ask me to tell him what she was doing and with each of my answers his response would be, “I sure wish I could see her.” Although he still wore his glasses, the eyes behind them appeared to have lost all hope.
One afternoon, while my baby lay contentedly on a blanket on the floor of my grandparents’ living room, I watched my granddad sitting on the sofa staring at the floor hoping to see some change, some recognition. The sun came streaming through the window behind him lighting the exact spot where my daughter lay. My granddad’s eyes suddenly had life in them and his face, at first startled, soon broke into a satisfied grin. He bent way over from his waist, straining his entire body to stretch it as far as it would go while remaining seated. He turned his head ever so slightly from side to side almost afraid to look away. I could tell just by looking into his eyes what had happened. The way the light had come in with such intensity, granddad had been able to see his great-granddaughter. It was such a fleeting moment, yet it renewed his spirit, his hope, and most importantly to me, his eyes. The instant passed and he sat back again, but the new life in his eyes remained.
So, in this new year, whatever your resolutions, never give up hope – it springs eternal.