I can see him now, my little blind toddler, sitting atop the thick phone book carefully secured on our piano bench, his pudgy little fingers plucking at the keys. Head cocked slightly to catch every nuance of tone, he experiments until he can play simple nursery rhymes he has heard. My heart aches even now as I watch him through memory’s softened lenses.
“Robbie, my Robbie, how perceptive you were in those growing-up years,” I ponder.
“Show me yellow, Mommy,” or “Is this green, Mama?” as he sits in the yard, pulling up tufts of grass.
“Mommy, lift me up high so I can feel the clouds. I want to know if they’re sticky like cotton candy.”
I can see him now, my growing blind son, interacting with his many varied school friends at the Disabled Children’s Academy.
“Mom, Jason says his skin is black, but it feels just like mine. Did God make us all different colors, like the rainbow you told me about?”
“Mom, Mrs. Massey says I shouldn’t try to talk to Danny because he is deaf. But I can make him hear my heart by touching him, can’t I?”
“I love Cindy, Mom. She lets me ride on her lap in her wheelchair and it can go REALLY fast! I heard a visitor call her a gimp—what’s a gimp, Mom?”
My son, the friendly glue that tried to hold all races and debilitations and creeds together in harmonious compatibility.
I can see him now, my son the teenaged Master People-Person, as he grappled with a balance between building relationships, his studies, and his music productions.
“I know when the assignment is due, Mom. But Jason’s going through a tough time right now and he needs my support.”
“My piano concerts are important, I know, Mother, but Carol asked if I would go experience the park with her. I think she needs a good listener.”
I watched him, my son, Robbie, so many times when I thought he was unaware of my presence. I found out later that he had made up a game of “I Spy” in his mind, identifying another’s approach by a keener sense of sound and smell unfamiliar to the sighted.
“Of course, I know you’re there, Mother. The third stair creaks a tad different when you are coming to my room. Besides, your shoes squeak.”
“Hi, Aunt Clare! Thanks for the birthday present! That’s some great perfume you wear!”
I remember other times, Robbie, my son, wearing his brave front when he was ridiculed or snubbed.
“That’s okay, Mom. They just don’t know me, that’s all . . . I wonder what hurt they have that makes them act like that?”
My son, Robbie. My teacher. I remember as if it was yesterday, the first time he brought home his bride-to-be on his arm, broadly smiling, his pride beaming through every pore of his body.
“Her name’s Abigail, Mom. Isn’t she BEAUTIFUL?! She’s going to be a lawyer.”
Later that same evening, I carefully broached his upcoming marriage.
“Son, you know, some people may be, uh, less than welcoming of Abigail.”
“She seems like a very nice young lady, don’t get me wrong, but she’s obviously Japanese, and you know how Uncle Sam feels about that war. And how your cousin Mollie is such a stay-at-home mom, she frowns and calls anyone with a career a feminist.”
“Mom, I get so weary with sighted people’s prejudices. They’re the ones who are handicapped! She’s a Christian and she loves me and I love her, and that’s enough!”
My son, the diplomat and the ambassador of good will. He brought me, and all those who knew him so much unconditional love through the years! His many friendships, his piano concert performances, and his generous donations to “lost” causes endeared him to all. The world lost a valuable, promising young man when the ravages of the disease that took Rob’s sight also took his life.
His legacy lives on through the eyes and hands and feet and hearts of all those who knew him, whatever their race, religion, political views or gender.
My son, Robbie, who saw more than any sighted person I have known.
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