Be forewarned, I’m squinting as type this
by Nancy Davis Kho
Sometime over the past few months, and with little fanfare, Nancy Davis Kho’s Near Distance Vision succumbed, after an heroic struggle with degenerative maladies complicated by old age. It was surrounded in its last days by Crow’s Feet, Dry Skin, and Age Spots, and was preceded in death by Flexibility and The Ability to Recall Titles of Movies Viewed Prior to 2008.
To be truthful, Nancy’s Eyesight never was the sharpest. It was in third grade that Nancy’s parents, alarmed by her rampant theatrical squinting at the television screen and chalk board, whisked her off to an eye doctor and had her fitted with their first set of corrective lenses for nearsightedness. They were enclosed in a pair of brown round glasses that a friend of her father’s said “Makes ya look like Mrs. Beasley from Family Affair! Ha ha HA!” You may recall that Mrs. Beasely was a doll, and not a cute one. Nancy may have been nearsighted, but she knew how to recognize an adult douche bag when she met him.
Still, those glasses and the succession of pairs that followed, each slightly thicker than the former, allowed Nancy to approximate 20/20 vision. Moreover, they emboldened her to mock her 40-something mother mercilessly about the farsightedness of aging. At church, the two of them would wrestle with the shared hymnal, Nancy pulling it closer and Mom pushing it back, until Nancy would get fed up and go stand in the aisle with the open book and say to her mother, “Here, can you see it NOW?!” loudly. That attitude, as predicted repeatedly by Nancy’s mother during church coffee hour, would come back to haunt her.
Nancy’s inability to see long distances didn’t feel like a disadvantage the years she was buying distinctive eyeglasses almost as often as she changed her earrings. Accordingly, Nancy’s Eyesight was coddled. The thought of having a surgical procedure to correct her Vision, as many of her friends were doing around their 35th birthdays, seemed like a voluntary abdication of a chance to accessorize.
In fact, her Eyesight experienced a renaissance of sorts after Nancy turned 40. The annual visits to the eye doctor turned up an interesting phenomena; her eyes kept improving and the lens on her glasses got thinner and thinner. The doctor credited the changing shape of the aging eye, which was slowly making it easier to see things at a distance while not yet making it too hard to see things that were held close up. Nancy envisioned the magical morning on which she would wake up and have 20/20 vision, the aging of her eyes offsetting the long-accustomed deficits of her distance vision to the point that she could read the clock radio without pushing her nose directly into it first.
For that reason, it was all the more upsetting when Nancy’s Near Distance Vision climbed on a greased saucer and skidded downhill last January. Its rapid demise was first apparent in a reflexive temptation to hold books with her feet rather than her hands when reading on the couch, followed by restaurant menu adjustments that looked like upper body calisthenics. Where the hymnal at church must now be placed, we’d prefer not to say.
Farewell, Near Distance Vision. The reading glasses on a chain around Nancy’s neck, to be worn atop the regular eyeglasses as though she has an ocular fetish, will take your place. But they will never erase your memory.
Nancy Davis Kho is a freelance writer who lives in Northern California. When not squinting at restaurant menus, she blogs at Midlife Mixtape.