Each afternoon, at 3PM, the little yellow school bus squealed to a halt in front of our house in Havertown. The door opened and a smiling little 4 year old, Lucy, tentatively made her way down and exited the bus. After a wave goodbye to Naomi, the driver, and holding tightly to my hand, Lucy negotiated the long flight of steps to the front door. As she maneuvered each step , she repeated, like a mantra, and in a sing-songy voice, “Want to listen to Dar Williams!” Dar Williams, singer songwriter, just happened to be a favorite in our home at that time (Apparently, so was Brittany Spears, because the parakeet repeated the name Brittany Spears as frequently as Lucy voiced her musical preference for Dar Williams.)
We entered the house where we were greeted with great excitement by our own kids and the kids who spent the day with us as part of the home day care that Dexter and I had founded. Lucy was one of our first clients along with her baby brother, Jimmy. Lucy determinedly made her way past the others and headed straight for the den at the back of the house. There she would take her place on the long church bench, all the while still requesting to listen to the music of her friend, Dar. As I hurriedly placed the CD in the player, I listened for the familiar daily sound that was signature Lucy. It was a sound very much like that of a cork being released from a champagne bottle, a daily “New Year”celebration. In our case, it was more like Groundhog Day. It was the sound of Lucy popping out her eyes, beautiful perfect eyes. But Lucy’s eyes weren’t real. These prosthesis were made of glass, for ‘looks”only. Lucy was born without eyes, her pretty little face fashioned with small sunken indentations where her eyes should have been. She was blind. Each day, before she began to listen to her favorite music, Lucy popped her eyes out in an attempt to be more comfortable, like taking one’s shoes off at the end of a hard day at work. The eyes would launch across the room, landing in a potted plant or on a windowsill. I would then scoop them up and put them aside to give to Lucy’s mom when she arrived to take the little girl home.
On this particular day, chaos abounded in our busy little house. Kevin’s teacher was calling to say that Kevin was serving detention after school because he laughed at the kid making fart noises in class. Suky insisted on brushing her doll’s hair with the toilet brush. Dennis T, our “special” friend, called to say that he was making a promise from his bottom heart. How many hearts does he have ,for God’s sake! Dano bit Suky and Matthew cried when Dano was corrected. The dogs barked and the kids screamed. I didn’t scoop up the pretty little eyes fast enough. When I went back into the den to find them, only one eye was there. I searched high and low, under and over, up and down, but there was still only one eye. What would I tell Lucy’s parents? And so Lucy went home with only one eye and my promise to continue the search for the lost one.
The following day, the Lucy routine repeated itself. The yellow school bus arrived, Lucy made her way to her beloved bench, popped out her eye and requested Dar. This time, however, I immediately retrieved the one remaining eye and set it aside. God forbid that both eyes were lost! Lucy wouldn’t be able to see!.
There is a happy “ending” to this story. At changing time, as I removed Lucy’s diaper, there it was, the lost eye, staring straight up at me! Lucy had swallowed her eye and it had’ seen” its way to the other end. Beauty is said to be in the eyes of the beholder; this was not a pretty sight. It was consistent, though, in a house where so very often, we don’t know if we are coming or going or which “end ” is up. No “buts” about it, we surely are a freak haven, where all are seen through the eyes of love.