When Jani and I were little we saw Grandpa Williamson take out his eye and wash it. Fascinated, we tried several times to take ours out. Exasperated, Jani asked, "How come you can do that and we can't?"
"I'm special," he said with a twinkle in his good eye.
"It is the same brown as your other eye," I added thoughtfully.
"They were all out of green."
I asked, "Where did you get it?"
"In the candy barrel at the hardware store."
"Can we get one?" Jani asked.
"They're only available on the 5th Tuesday of every third month."
We didn't know how to read a calendar.
Disgusted, we turned to Grandma. Tugging on her sleeve, Jani asked, "How did Grandpa get that eye he takes out?"
Grandma laid down her needle and thread, took a deep breath and added a frown for emphasis. "Well, it was like this. Grandpa loved trains. Loved them, you hear? Always wanted to work on them. I was afraid a cinder would fly up and take out his eye. I fussed and nagged until he gave up his dream."
"What's a dream?" Jani asked.
"What somebody really, really wants to do."
Jani gasped, "Like ride a bicycle?"
I was horrified. "You mean if you thought I would lose an eye being a doctor, you wouldn't let me?"
Grandma shifted uneasily, "Sort of like that."
I stomped my foot. It wasn't worth it to grow up! Arms crossed I was determined to live my dream. If I couldn't be a doctor, I'd never have indoor plumbing.
Grandma continued, "Grandpa took up farming and quit talking about working on the railroad. I was so glad. Then one day he was out making fence; I heard a scream."
Jani and I started to cry; we loved our Grandpa, cheerleader, rescuer.
Tears rolled down Grandma's cheeks, too. "I ran to him fast as I could. His face was all bloody. And there was nothing where his eye should be. Horrible. Just horrible. He said he was hammering a steeple into a fencepost when the durn thing flipped back and hit his eye. "It was my fault. If I'd just let him work on the railroad, this wouldn't have happened."
That didn't feel right. "Grandma, maybe he was going to lose the eye one way or the other, train or steeple didn't matter."
She looked up pondering the possibility, "Maybe I saw that it would happen, but I didn't know how or where."
Hugging, soothing her, Jani and I agreed.
Hoping for a happy ending, Jani asked, "Does Grandpa still love trains?"
Grandma smiled, "He does. You know that track in the basement you play on; it's his way of working on the railroad. He gets to live his dream a different way.
2011 Red Convertible Travel Series