For the last couple of years I have noticed a discernible change in my vision. Strange “headaches” that just hit with an explosion behind my eyes. They wouldn’t linger. Just bam… and in a few seconds they would be gone. It has deteriorated to the point that I have trouble seeing clearly in almost anything less than perfect light.
I went to the eye doctor yesterday and he did several different test and took some pictures. He told me that they would be sent to the doctor in Atlanta and they would review the material. If they see something they usually call before the end of the day… wrong. Thirty minutes later a call from the Atlanta VA from Dr. Pleasant Female Voice (PFV). Dr. PFV asked, ” Is this Edward H. Deeb Jr. last four 1725?”….You have to love the personal touch…” Mr. Deeb you have macular degeneration.”
There was no need to ask to many questions. I am familiar with the disease through my work and through my mother’s diagnosis. There is no cure. There really isn’t any treatment. It progresses in three stages. Early…Mid…Late. Start to finish ten years to being legally blind. According to Dr. PFV I’m in the Mid. Probably 3, maybe 4, years into the measurable progression of the disease. She said she could send me some vitamins and suggested occupational therapy.
She also asked me if I smoked and I said,” Yes ma’am. Not that many cigarettes but a fair amount of cannabis.” Dr. PFV chuckled and said,”I would advise you to quit smoking cigarettes, Mr Deeb.” I knew I liked her. ” The cannabis will not hurt your eyes. In fact some studies suggest otherwise. This disease is usually found in adults much older, Mr Deeb. ” I already knew that. Most diagnosis are around 80 year of age.
The way I see it…. I am blessed. God has given me so many beautiful memories. I cherish EVERY sunrise. Bright and brilliant! Blasting away shadows with pastel hues of color or slow and still. Just a lightening of dark to varying shades of grey. They are beautiful. I sincerely absorb smiles from little children and old folks. My soul has soaked in not only my own joy and suffering but also that of all the people I have loved, hated, protected or pursued. I know now why the Lord has made me an extreme empath. When my sight is gone I will be able to absorb energy … good or bad… to feel others pain and suffering. Sometimes what we see gets in the way of what we feel or should be hearing.
By losing my sight I have to wonder what else will happen? I’ve heard other senses become enhanced to compensate. Will I become more aware of the sounds that God has given me? Will I be a better conductor of the images that flow through my mind now even though I posses the ability to see? I don’t know. Life is nothing but a transition. From the moment we are conceived until the final transition when we are received. I tell people every day I wake up with a pulse is a good day…. and the day I wake up without one will be a glorious day… That’s the wat I see it.
A solitary tree stands on the hill
It has stood for all time. It stands still.
Its bark scarred. Its branches bare.
The weary warrior will find slumber there.
He drops his gear. He’ll close his eyes.
He’ll just rest here until the others arrive.
For shed no tears. He did not die.
He’s feasting in the halls of Valhalla
telling warriors tales and brothers lies.
Dedicated to Command Sargent Major Michael J. Deeb
Everyone that knows me knows I am of middle eastern descent and feel passionately for the atrocities happening now. If you have ever wondered how things got this bad let me try to explain it from a different point of view.
The big war had just ended. it was the late 1940’s and the cloud of destruction had just settled.It was called a world war because it literally encompassed the world. It was everywhere! Asia! All of Europe! Africa! Everywhere but right here… We have continued to farm and raise our families. The madness never to touched us. Then some people came….. They told me that I had to move. They told me I had to take what I could carry, including my family and leave my ancestral home. My family has lived here for generations. My children were born and raised here as was I.
What is the reason for me to leave? Well you know there was just a big war? Yeah I know.. Well during that war there were millions of Jews killed. I heard that to and I mourn for them. But that has nothing to do with me. Well yes it does because that’s why you have to move. See when the Jews were killed in Europe and all their homes and possessions were taken they became displaced. They had nowhere to go so the nations of the world got together and decided to give them your home. What? Why my home? Why not the homes of the people that did these terrible things to the Jews? I have no problem with the Jews! my sister in law is a Jew! My neighbors are Jews! Our families have lived together for generations! Do they have to move? No they do not. They will keep their home. But why MY house? Why my house? Because the nations of the world decided that the Jews were promised this land by their God so you have to move. But we have the same God! God made promises to Hagar and to Ishmael! Do not Gods promises mean anything to anyone else? Why just the Christians and the Jews? I will NOT move!! Sir, you WILL move!! You Do NOT want to put your family through the experience of being forcibly removed by the government! Oh you mean like they did to Jews in Europe? Sir, I am but one man and my first responsibility is to my family… so I will leave my home. But you hear this. You make sure your children and their children hear this. I do not have an army but I will fight you. I will teach my sons how to fight you and their sons until the sun no longer rises and there is eternal darkness over the land… or until I am back home…. There will be no peace.
A simple explanation as to how we got here today.
For some reason, unknown to myself, I thought of a resident I was lucky enough to meet at the nursing home. This wasn’t a very old man. He was maybe in his early 70’s. He had dementia and would often for no reason and with no warning just lay down on the floor and most often cry softly. The first time I saw this I immediately laid down next to him. Another CNA showed up out of nowhere with two pillows and a blanket and then backed off. Here we were. Two very large men laying down on the floor in the middle of the hallway in a very active nursing home… in the middle of the day.
Don’t ask me why I did this. This was in no training or seminar yet it was my immediate and most natural response. I’ve seen others do this. First responders like EMT’s, firefighters, police. I think there are several driving factors. For me it’s the eyes. Everything is raw and real in the eyes. Whether it be panic, fear, anger, love, frustration, encouragement or hopelessness, it can be seen in the eyes. Even dementia cannot take that away. And it is not the look in the other persons eyes that is important. It is the look in my eyes. They have to see that they are safe. They have to SEE that the words they are hearing have truth. They have to know that no matter where they are they can look you in the eye and know it’ll be alright. The only way I know to accomplish that is to meet them where they’re at.
When I was a little boy jumping off the stool
I would do anything just to get a smile out of you
Then I was a soldier floating on the clouds
jumping out of airplanes just to make you proud
I never made you happy and I never knew your pain
but I would give anything to try to make you smile again
Now I am an old man there’s nothing left to do
I hope I can make you smile the next time I see you
In a conversation with my son one word brought a flood of memories rushing back. the word was homeless. I immediately thought of my mother and a ride we took. We pulled up to a busy intersection in Macon where a man was standing with a sign. One word. Homeless. Mom dug in her purse and handed me a five dollar bill to give to the man which I did. I couldn’t speak. This was completely out of character for my mother. When I regained my senses I asked her and she told me the following.
” I had a dream last night that frightened me to my core. I dreamed that I was in my 20’s and was lost in Atlanta. No one would help me. I had no money. I had no food. I had no car and most frightening of all was I had no place to go. There was no destination I was just lost begging for help and no one heard me. I know that man will probably go spend that money on liquor but that is not my concern. I realize I have not been as good a Christian as I could have been. He may be hungry. Eddie that was more than a dream I had. I think I’m being prepped. I think Jesus put that man there to see if I was listening.”
Mom died a month later.
I don’t write as often as I should. I just don’t. It seems I have fallen into the social media cycles of venting and expression and empathy and sympathy and even apathy because of saturation of opinions from all sides. But this is different.This is different because this is one of those special moments when I HAVE to write not because I need to make a social statement but because I just need to say ” I hear you.”
Standing on my porch this morning after daybreak I was smoking one of my two daily cigarettes. This is my favorite time of day. I caught some movement over my left shoulder and saw a small spike buck I’ve named Red, because of his color, grazing about twenty yards away. Apparently I was down wind because here I was smoking a cigarette and he walked right by me. What was also odd was he was not alone. I see him everyday but he has been alone since he left the herd which still comes through. He had a small female with him.
They were on an open field just about 50 yards away and there was a stand of about three pine trees between us. I was waiting for them to come into view. Instead a red tail hawk flew out heading for the sky. I know those deer had to have spooked that hawk but I laughed and thought ” Ok Tata’s shape shifting.”
I went on about my morning cleaning and was doing laundry when I was stopped in my tracks. I heard the most beautiful sound in the world and just lay over the top of the washing machine. I felt my father inside my chest. I felt the same explosion of emotion that I used to feel whenever I held him with his little white head pressed into my chest. I love him no less today than I ever did. I miss him more every day. If you are still reading this I’m impressed because I did not write this for you.The TV was on while I was cleaning and a movie was playing in the background. The movie was ” Alive ” and at the end of the movie was the sound that stopped me. Daddy’s favorite. So if you are still reading then you most definitely should listen to this song all the way through. It will probably be the most rewarding part of this experience. Or not. I didn’t write this for you anyway. I wrote this just to say, ‘I hear you Tata! Have a great day!”
I worked at the nursing home this weekend. I have taken some time off for various reasons and have genuinely missed being around those beautiful people. I’ve missed the staff as much as the residents.
I’ve written before about the married couples that reside here and I feel we are fortunate that we have the opportunity to be part of their lives. There’s something special about sitting with them. Once the door shuts you are sitting in their living room. There are various pieces of artwork, recliners, little refrigerators and pictures. Lots of pictures.
They talk about their relationship with gentle banter playing off each other. We have had couples that have been married for as long as 76 years. When one of the spouses begin to decline you will witness a part of the human experience and journey that few people are blessed to see or be a part of.
The remaining spouse, be it male or female, becomes the caregiver. They want to feed their mate.. Take them the bathroom. Wipe their brow and give them comfort rarely leaving their side. When their mate dies the remaining survivor usually must find new purpose. They often maintain the same routine that they shared with their mate. Whether it was playing bingo or a glass of wine in the evening or just sitting outside at the same time everyday.
So Saturday as I was pulling in to work I saw one of the residents outside. She had recently lost her husband. Every morning she and her husband would sit outside in the sun. This morning she was sitting outside in the sun with her hands in her lap, her head slightly tilted back, sunglasses on and just a faint smile on her face.
I don’t know what she was thinking but I know I thought ” she looks like a bird on a wire…” Some humans mate for life.
Entry and exit are both the same
though we call them each by a different name
Through birth we enter with wrinkled hands and face
longing for the comfort of our mothers embrace
blinded by light gasping for breath
we are laid gently upon mothers chest
We cannot walk nor can we stand yet we know
we are safe just touching her hand
We cannot walk nor can we stand yet
we know we are safe if you just hold our hand
We lie in this bed with wrinkled hands and face
longing for the comfort of that special embrace
blinded by light gasping for breath we lay our
youthful face upon our Fathers chest
Now I hope you understand they are the same
we just know them by different names
So if you have fears lay them to rest
one is called birth the other is death