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Columnist: Do our eyes cause impaired vision?

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

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When my granddaughter was 3 I asked her how old her mother was.

“Ten!” she replied with certainty.

“Your father?”

“Ten, too!” was her absolute answer.

“Well then Avery, how old am I?” Without looking up to my face, she answered, “You are 3, just like me!”

Avery saw me through the clear eyes of a child. She had deduced that I was her age because I would play with her, talk to her on her level, and was her best friend. I was 3, just like her.

Children teach us valuable lessons in life. They judge not by what they are told or see, but by what they feel in their hearts and by the pure innocence of being young.

As we age we start to see things we didn’t notice before. People look different to the eyes. We are often guilty of grouping folks together in neat little categories and steering away from groups that are not like the one we are in. We are conservative or liberal, wealthy or poor, black, white, Hispanic or any other ethnicity that is not ours.

Have you ever noticed that once you get to know someone you are no longer aware of the difference that you originally saw with your eyes? I recall going back to college when I was a young mother. We lived in Birmingham and since I had left school, times had changed and I was now in an integrated population.

I always thought racial divide was stupid in the first place, so I was very comfortable with my new world. There was a young lady that had every class with me since we had the same major. We became fast friends.

She and I were walking across the quadrangle on a very hot spring day rushing to our next class. She was drinking a coke in a bottle as we walked.

“Can I have a sip?”, I asked as I grabbed it out of her hand. Since she had not offered to share, I laughingly said as I took the sip, “How rude are you anyway?!”

She stopped dead still as I walked on with her Coke and babbling. Took me a minute before I realized she wasn’t at my side.

“Gloria, come on we are going to be late!”

She was still not moving and staring after me.

“I am sorry I took your drink; I was just kidding!”

“No, Lynn, that’s not it. You drank after me!” she said with tears brimming in her eyes.

“I don’t understand, are you sick?” I questioned.

“No, I am black!”

With all the emotion that was happening between us at the moment, God gave me the perfect response, “Gee, I hadn’t noticed.” She cried all the way to class as I put my arm around her.

I really had forgotten that she was different than myself. Her color was the only difference. What lay beneath her skin was a beautiful girl that was simply “my friend.”

How many times have we seen a handicapped person, a poor person, an elderly person or even an unattractive person and avoided contact because they made us uncomfortable?

How many times have we been afraid of a person, because they just didn’t “look right?” How many times have we passed by a person that could have used our help? How many times have our eyes failed us?

The elderly are only elderly because the body that carries their spirit has aged. What is inside is the same person that was 18 once. But how do we treat them? Do we take the time to talk to the 18 year old or do we simply stop the conversing when we view them with our eyes?

There is a story about an old, poor man of mixed races walking down a crowded sidewalk. As people approached him, they made a wide arc around him to avoid contact.

A young man with a cane was strolling toward the old man. The old man looked up to see him coming just as the young man slightly bumped into him, causing the old man to drop his little brown bag.

“I am so sorry, sir. I can see a little but didn’t see you there. Let me help you pick things up the best I can.”

The old man responded as he helped the young man to his feet, “Thank you so much for trying to help me, what is your name?”

“My name is David, sir, what is yours?”

The old man stood tall and when he did the people stopped to look as the old man was now a striking young man! He then touched the eyes of David and said, “My name is … God.”

Sometimes we miss golden opportunities because we have judged with our eyes.

My granddaughter is now 10. She is still my best friend, but now thinks I am older than I really am!! She teases me about it a lot.

When I visit her I always lay down with her in the dark of the night. She cannot see and that is when she and I talk and she tells me everything about her world. You see, in the dark, she cannot see that I am just … 10.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.