I wrote this on the way to work a few days ago.
You Drive Me to Distraction
You drive me to distraction. There are many ways to get there, and I seem to know them all. I run there to hide from you. There are many places to hide, and any will do. I cannot bear to face you and all that you have to tell me. Monsters from past and present lurk around every corner, but if I ignore them, maybe they will go away. You know them all by name. You and your acquaintances mock me. No one who takes exception to your words is to be taken seriously. The dark and terrible truth must be known. Sometimes you corner me. For the moment I can find no place to hide. Your accusations fly like poisoned arrows, and I can only hide my face in shame. I crawl away, a little closer to the end I long for, finding my way to distraction again. I cannot stand to look at you; you who are nothing more than me.
I face a small dilemma almost every time I board the crowded train for my morning commute to work. Should I take the seat that someone just got out of so I can sit down, or do I literally stand on principle? Given that people have a tendency to form lasting opinions based on a first impression, I have long felt that I have a responsibility to leave the right impression on behalf of all people who are blind. I’ve also got to deal with plain ugly old pride. If someone asks me I will often say, politely I hope, “that’s ok. My legs still work.” I’m not as adamant as I used to be. I confess that if someone actually gets out of their seat, these days I sit in it. Partly this is because my legs don’t work quite like they used to; my knees hurt a little. Partly I’ve just decided it’s not worth making a scene. Finally I probably should admit that plain ugly old selfishness is getting stronger than pride. Sometimes an elderly gentleman rides with me who demands we get seats. He actually needs one. I always feel a little embarrassed. “These seats are reserved for us by law,” he says. That may be true, but now I can’t get on the train without thinking someone is going to get up out of guilt or a sense of obligation. Some would say that’s good. I don’t agree. In the long run it’s counterproductive. These people have been made to feel more uncomfortable around people with handicaps. That is the opposite of what we need. Should they get up for us? Certainly they should be under no obligation to get up for me. My eyes don’t have anything to do with whether or not I can stand.
Yesterday, Friday, January 5, 2007, my grandfather went home. We are saddened because we miss him. Death always surprises us even when we know it’s coming. We are happy because an extended period of suffering is now over. A man who had lost the ability to keep track of time can now spend all of his time rejoicing in the presence of God. A man who could barely walk on a good day can now dance for joy. A man who knew constant pain now has the unending pleasure of Heaven. We will weep for the loss of his company, but we will rejoice in his new found freedom. We love you Granddaddy. We’ll see you when we get home.