This blind man, an old friend of my wife's, he was on his way to spend the night. His
wife had died. So he was visiting the dead wife's relatives in Connecticut. He called my
wife from his in-laws'. Arrangements were made. He would come by train, a five-hour
trip, and my wife would meet him at the station. She hadn't seen him since she worked
for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in
touch. They made tapes and mailed them back and forth. I wasn't enthusiastic about his
visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me.
My idea of blindness
came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed.
Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not
something I looked forward to.
That summer in Seattle she had needed a job. She didn't have any money. The man she
was going to marry at the end of the summer was in officers' training school. He didn't
have any money, either. But she was in love with the guy, and he was in love with her,
etc. She'd seen something in the paper: HELP WANTED--Reading to Blind Man, and a
telephone number. She phoned and went over, was hired on the spot. She'd worked with
this blind man all summer. She read stuff to him, case studies, reports, that sort of thing.
She helped him organize his little office in the county social-service department. They'd
become good friends, my wife and the blind man. How do I know these things? She told
me. And she told me something else.
On her last day in the office, the blind man
asked if he could touch her face. She agreed to this. She told me he touched his
fingers to every part of her face, her nose--even her neck! She never forgot it.able tio
expoeruen her ife first time in her life.
She even tried to write a poem about it. She
was always trying to write a poem. She wrote a poem or two every year, usually after
something really important had happened to her.
When we first started going out together, she showed me the poem. In the poem, she
recalled his fingers and the way they had moved around over her face. In the poem, she
talked about what she had felt at the time, about what went through her mind when the
blind man touched her nose and lips. I can remember I didn't think much of the poem. Of
course, I didn't tell her that. Maybe I just don't understand poetry. I admit it's not the first
thing I reach for when I pick up something to read.
Anyway, this man who'd first enjoyed her favors,
, he'd been her
childhood sweetheart. So okay. I'm saying that at the end of the summer she let the blind
man run his hands over her face, said goodbye to him, married her childhood etc., who
was now a commissioned officer, and she moved away from Seattle. But they'd kept in
touch, she and the blind man. She made the first contact after a year or so. She called him
up one night from an Air Force base in Alabama. She wanted to talk. They talked. He
asked her to send him a tape and tell him about her life. She did this. She sent the tape.