By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
Sometime in my early scholastic years, I developed a sense that education was a competitive game. One was asked to know the correct answers to questions. It was not of primary importance that one knew all the ins and outs of what was being asked. What got you points was the precise, correct answer.
Therefore, when the elementary school decided to test the eyesight of my fourth-grade class in 1944, I took it as a challenge to memorize the eye chart which had the letter E pointing in diverse directions. The top E was as far as my weak eyes could account for; but I got up close and figured out the directions of the smaller EEEEEs.
My ruse did not fool the examiners.
I was sent home with the message that my parents were to get me to the optometrist immediately, as even from the front row in the classroom the chalkboard was a fuzzy mystery. After a week, I was given my first pair of eyeglasses. I walked out of the shop, which was on the courthouse square in Tyler.
Lo and behold! I noticed for the very first time that there was a statue of Lady Justice holding a scale on the top of the Smith County courthouse. Even more exhilarating was the vision that I had for the first time that there were twigs and little pebbles on the ground.
That day launched me on to greater discoveries. With my corrected vision, I could discover coins along the curbs, interesting rocks in the streams and birds in the trees. I could read books without putting my nose next to the text. I did not have to sit in the first row of the classroom, squinting at the squiggly lines dancing on the dusty chalkboard.
My “specks” and I were one until six years ago. Old Father Time struck a couple of vicious blows at my eyesight. I still could see, but I once again had to use my imagination to fill in the blanks.
Salvation came with a cataract operation. The world was bright and focused once again. Rocks and twigs and birds were not just figments of my imagination….then three months ago, the world started to go fuzzy. At first it was as if a ground fog was slowly creeping in. The road signs were hard to see. Reading was a chore. The screen on the computer had to be expanded to 300 percent to be barely recognizable.
Back to the ophthalmologist I hastened. He checked my implanted lens and suggested that it was a problem of such operations that after a number of years the path to the retina would become clouded like a piece of plastic.
The solution? A five-minute laser treatment was the correct answer. He was not kidding.
Coins and rocks and twigs and birds beware. This observer is back in the competition with a bright eye and a good imagination.
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.