The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl

Circle Letters: The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl - A Memoir by Aleta M. Schrock

Monday, May 14, 2012

1000 Gifts: 391-440 Bifocals

          The little girl bent close over her book, her nose almost touching the words as she read. I smiled as I continued to test her Reading Level. That was exactly how I used to do it. Read with my nose literally buried in a book.
          But something had happened to my eyes between then and now. I felt a twinge of longing for those youthful days before bifocals. Before bifocals made my perfect reading vision come out of one tiny spot in the lower middle half of my glasses.
*   *   *   *   *   *   *
“We can look into bifocals for you,” my optometrist had suggested one visit a number of years ago.
“I don’t need bifocals”, was my quick response.
Dr. Schneider, assuming that pride kept me from admitting my need for this addition to my eye glasses, gently explained that once people reached their forties their eyeballs began to change shape creating the need for bifocals to help us read better and that the modern graduated bifocal was not visible to others unlike the highly noticeable magnifiers centered in the middle lower half of our grandparents spectacles.
“I would be happy to get bifocals if I needed them,” I explained for the third time as the doctor continued to try to reassure me that bifocals were not a shameful experience, “but I can read just fine.”
          Dr. Schneider was young, probably in his early thirties and he was going by the book. I was several years into my forties; therefore, I must need this dreaded addition to my eye glasses.
          I left feeling frustrated. Pride was not the issue here, I could read just fine. But it started my brain thinking. Why did I not need bifocals yet, when others my age often did?
          Then one evening as I lay in bed reading the Bible, the answer came. I used to read in bed with my chin resting on my hands, my nose practically touching the pages. But now I held my head up several inches away from the book. When had this change occurred? I couldn’t remember. It must have happened so gradually that I was unaware of it until my optometrist’s insistence for bifocals created the awareness. As I pondered on these changes, I remembered something from my childhood.
          As a child adults often told me to hold my book farther away, because holding it so close wasn’t good for my eyes. So I’d hold the book a foot or more away down on my lap and continue reading, but next thing I knew the book had gradually found its way back up to my nose. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see clearly with the book farther away, it just felt comfortable having it close. So I read, literally buried in a book. Well, my nose… and mind at least.
          As my mind continued to ponder these discoveries, I chanced upon what I believe to be the cause. My eyeballs must have been shaped in such a way to cause my close-up vision to be most perfect at a distance the length of my nose. After I entered my forties they began to change shape slowly just as Dr. Schneider’s medical books had predicted. The average readers who spent their childhood holding their books a comfortable one foot distance away were by now not able to hold their reading material far enough away to see. My eyes, on the other hand, had moved from a comfortable vision at nose length to finally doing what adults had been trying to make me do my entire child hood. Hold my book on my lap to read.
          Eventually, in my late-mid forties after I spent a year moving my glasses to the tip of my nose every time I sat down to read for a length of time, I told my doctor that I think I might need bifocals. Now these graduated bifocals create only a narrow line of clear vision down the very center of each glass. As soon as I move my eyes a fraction to the right or left I notice a slight blur. I miss the days when I could bury my nose in a book and every letter was crisp and clear.
So I smile in remembrance as I continue to test this little girl with her nose buried in the story and I thank God that although I can no longer bury my nose, I can still bury my mind in a good story.

My List:
391. Watching a little girl bend close over her book, her nose almost touching the page as she reads and remembering the days (prior to bifocals) when I did that, too.
392. Teaching first graders how to do research and write reports.
393. First graders excitedly pointing out the features of non-fiction text in the books they are reading.
394. First graders publishing non-fiction text and incorporating the features they learned about such as a table of contents, an index, a glossary, a diagram with labels, a close-up of an interesting detail, etc.
395. Two boys asking me to teach them how to add a glossary to their book.
396. Finding the title to my mother-in-law’s RV.
397. Getting temporary a temporary plate for the RV.
398. Finding the right battery for the RV.
399. My sister-in-law removing the RV from our driveway and taking it to Texas.
400. The space in our driveway back.
401. Safe travels for Debbie and the RV.
402. My brother-in-law getting a new place to live.
403. Panda black licorice.
404. Connecting the spiritual and the intellectual.
405. Living a blessed life.
406. Walking by faith according to the Word and not by sight.
407. Being born in America to a family blessed of God.
408. A mother filled with wisdom.
409. My husband finding a place open on Sunday that could make his truck road worthy again.
410. Seeing Debbie again.
411. Seeing Tony again.
412. Seeing pictures of Everett and his girlfriend.
413. The awesome sale my husband made.
414. Living in the Life of The Word.
415. Safe delivery of the RV to TX.
416. My brother-in-law repairing the pipes.
417. Debbie’s safe return to MN.
418. Our pastors.
419. Our elders.
420. Hearing the truth of God’s Word preached.
421. The awesome sale my husband made.
422. The cyst being removed from my finger.
423. The finger healing totally and beautifully.
424. Giving a friend a ride.
425. Living a blessed life.
426. An abundance of healthy and delicious food.
427. Finding a cute skirt in a store.
428. Watching The Sound of Music as a play in our local theater.
429. Discovering the Worship Leader of our church has a part in the play.
430. Students following directions and building beautiful cereal box castles.
431. Students excitedly coloring and cutting out fairytale characters.
432. Students enthusiastically using their fairytale characters to tell and act out stories.
433. Children who had been noisy and challenging all day becoming quiet as a fairytale book is read and the story unfolds.
434. Listening to students discuss the similarities and differences between two versions of a fairytale.
435. A student excitedly sharing something they read or saw in a book.
436. The smile on the uplifted face of a child.
437. A delicious Mexican dinner prepared for teachers in honor of Cinco De Mayo.
438. A delicious gourmet sub from our principal in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day.
439. Homemade healthy mango ice-cream.
440. Finding a gorgeous blouse on sale.
441. . . .

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