The Last Time I Looked: (Stories, Real and Unreal) - THE MIND'S EYE Chapter Three
April 22, 2013

Meanwhile, one of my dear old friends developed severe vision problems as well. She was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma. We were certainly all concerned with each other, and she was so helpful because she could clarify for me, some of what Adolph must be feeling.

There were many moments when I drove myself into a frenzy trying to fill our evenings with activity, distractions, and entertainment because our life together seemed so still and so sad. The weekends were the hardest because Adolph didn’t meet with his partner to work. So, the definitions of "time" on those days became blurred. One Saturday, I made a date with that same friend and her husband. I agonized over the entertainment pages of The New York Times. I was trying to organize the perfect “pick us all up” day. No schlock movies, not just dinner, not too late, because it's scary for them to be part of the Saturday night crowds.

There was an “art film” RAISE THE RED LANTERN that everyone said was an amazing piece of work, and was drawing large audiences. Not too far from the theatre was one of our favorite Chinese restaurants. That seemed to do it nicely, thank you. Interesting cultural experience at 4:30, less than a two block walk, and then a great Chinese dinner around 6:30, home by 9 or 9:30, all snugly and sated. I called the popular restaurant and used every name I could to get a table at that time, then I went down to the theatre at about two o’clock to buy the tickets in advance so we wouldn’t have to wait.

It was working like an expensive packaged tour. We sailed into the theatre and got four seats together, ahead of all the crowds. The lights dimmed, the exotic oriental music began, the credits and the English subtitles came on and were almost obliterated by the gorgeous and colorful scenery. That’s right, the English subtitles and sporadic Chinese dialogue started. My two visually impaired dear ones turned simultaneously in their seats and stared at me. (As best they could.)


I wanted to stand up in that packed dark theatre and scream at the top of my lungs, ”What the Hell is the matter with me?...What was I thinking?” Not only could they obviously not read the faint titles, but neither one of them was fluent, or even halting, in Chinese.

I started whispering so many variations of “I’m sorry”, that our neighbors started shushing me. I urged Adolph to go down to the front row and find a seat, and my friend assured me that she could almost make out some of the titles.

The movie seemed to go on for four days. I could barely pay attention; it brought up more sadness and more of the new reality. No more foreign or silent movies for Adolph. You see, silent films were one of Adolph’s many passionate obsessions. He knew every frame and title of many of them by heart. He could watch them over and over for hours and days at a time, just as he did when he was a child.

When the movie finally ended, we did have a long, slightly hysterical, laugh about my choice. My friend’s husband and I described what we had seen as best we could over the very welcome dinner. Adolph and my friend compared how much or little they saw. They sounded like two kids trying to one up each other, but in this case, it was more like one downing each other. It was very touching and forged our foursome as her husband and I compared caretaking notes.

One night, Adolph walked into our bedroom; I was sitting on my usual side of the bed. I could tell by the no expression in his poor eyes that he wasn’t sure if I was there. He said, “Phyllis, is that you?” I got angry, I didn’t know what else to get.

“For God’s sake Adolph, put on those special glasses and try...you’re not trying. Concentrate. Look at me. What am I doing?”

I stuck out my tongue in a lame attempt to mix baby humor with fear and pain. His expression didn’t change. He couldn’t see me. He couldn’t see my tongue. He couldn’t see...period. A big piece of my heart turned to dust.

Click here to read chapter four.
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1 comment
Very touching and sad, too.
I can see you all at the Lincoln Plaza theater and then going to Shun Lee....
12:35pm 04/22/2013
Bob Deutsch