A Look I’d Never Seen

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It was snowing like crazy, and mom was all bundled up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll (that’s what cars and wheelchairs do in the snow) to Circle Center Adult Day Care, aka heaven on earth!

On the way out the door, I asked Carolyn, our caregiver extraordinaire,  where mom’s glasses were.

“They just keep falling off, Tom. She just can’t keep them on … and (long pause) … she really can’t see much anymore. Her eyes are closed most of the time now, even when she eats. I just don’t think she needs them anymore.”

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Looking back on it now, I realize I was only halfway listening to Carolyn. I think I was focused more on how I was going to conquer the snow and get from Point A to Point B without losing two of my most favorite people on this planet … mom and me!

It wasn’t until I had safely made it to Circle Center and was lifting mom from the car into her wheelchair, that I noticed her again without her glasses. I took a picture of her and then just stood there, my eyes fixated on her face, crying.

The snow was falling in slow motion, in unison with my tears.

It was the first time in my life … my entire life … that I had seen my mom start her day without her glasses.

When I first started caring for her, it was a struggle to even get her to take them off at bedtime.  And, often, she’d have them on again before getting out of bed in the morning.  Maybe she needed them to see her dreams. Who knows? All I know is I never knew.

I wiped my eyes on my coat sleeve and wheeled mom into the lobby. It was as warm as the welcome from the receptionist. “Good morning, Tom! Pretty rough going out there this morning. Glad to see you and your mom made it safe and sound.”

Then she turned to mom. “Hey, Helen! Don’t you look great in that red coat of yours. (Pause) Helen … where are your glasses?”

I basically gave her the same explanation Carolyn gave me. They’re always falling off. Mom keeps her eyes closed most of the time now. And, even when they’re open, I’m not really sure she sees much of anything anyway.

Then the receptionist asked if I was OK. I don’t know whether my eyes were giving it away, but I started tearing up again. “I’m OK. It’s just that … I have never seen my mom without her glasses on … my entire life … never.”

“For all I know, she was born with her glasses on … little tiny baby glasses that must have grown up with her.”

I tried to pull a smile out of my hat, but it wasn’t working.

I bent over to kiss mom’s cheek and say goodbye. Her eyes were closed.

I whispered, “I love you mom … I’ll see you later.”

I went back out into the cold wondering if my mom would ever see me again.

About Tom Laughon

Tom Laughon (Pronounced Lawn) is President of Catch Your Limit, an organization whose sole purpose is to guide and grow leaders. His journey from lead singer in a rock-n-roll band, to a successful career in marketing & advertising to consultant, strategist, keynote speaker, facilitator, professor and writer is a fascinating one. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Tom and his team guide organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to national associations, to "catch their limit" in areas such as leadership development, creativity, innovation, teaming and transformational change. His commitment to "practice what he preaches" has made Catch Your Limit a petri dish for round-the-clock discovery and learning. The firm's brand reflects Tom's personal brand: Fun, Inspirational, Strategic & Hot!

5 responses »

  1. Tom, I always find your posts very touching and close to my heart. My husband seems so much like you in his love for his mom at 92 with dementia, especially now after we decided to be her full-time caregivers this past year. My neighbor Miss D always told me, “A man is good if he loves his mother.” She was so right about that. You are a good son and she knows it whether her eyes are closed or not.

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  2. Such a sad story, I wish it were fiction. I am sorry for your heartbreak.

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  3. My mom spent some years in a nursing home. One day I went to see her, three hours away, to find her glasses were gone. The staff was completely unconcerned. After all, Mom did not read anymore or watch hardly any TV and glasses were not necessary. I insisted and they told me they’d order new ones. That day never came. I bought her a pair of nice bright pink glasses and gave them to her. She put them on and she smiled.

    Tom, I’ve thought of you and your family a lot lately. I took a picture of my Fred Laughon dolls together and I want you to know how much I enjoy having them.

    Billie Aye

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  4. Beautiful story….beautifully written….beautiful lady.

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  5. With all the changes we face with our aging parents, even though we think we are prepared for whatever may occur, they still have the ability to throw us a curve. Shocks are what keep us aware of how deeply we feel about these people who gave us life and loved us since we can remember.
    Nancy Lowry

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