There are certain things you miss after seeing perfectly well and then becoming totally blind. It goes without saying that your children’s faces are at the top of the list. Certainly watching football and looking at a beautiful woman make the grade. Reading labels on cans and washing instructions on clothing are also included on this unusual roster. But color is a very special and peculiar line item on that daunting list of things you miss.
I remember being in my late 20s and catching a shot of vivid blue in the bottom corner of my right eye. It was both shocking and wonderful – shocking because it had jolted me into realizing that I had not been seeing color for quite some time, and wonderful to see some color again. Though I hadn’t been seeing color for years, it strangely never entered my conscious mind that I had lost it.
Losing color is something entirely different from losing vision. Curiously, colors continue to paint the walls of your memory long after they have disappeared from your sight. I remember vibrant reds, crisp greens and brilliant blues. I still recall the pastels of pinks, oranges and yellows evaporating into the horizon of the setting Key West sun.
As a child, I lived in Coral Gables, down the street from a fellow named Anthony Abraham. Mr. Abraham owned a huge Chevrolet dealership and had one of the biggest houses in the neighborhood, complete with a sprawling manicured garden. Every Christmas season, his house and garden was adorned with soft blue bulbs, a life-size animated Santa, flying reindeer, a singing choir and, most vividly, a huge tree strung with brilliantly multi-colored blinking lights.
Between every Thanksgiving and January 1st, This twinkling display (and also another large, beautifully lit house across the way, no doubt keeping the Abrahams on their holiday lighting toes), turned my otherwise sleepy little neighborhood street into a bustling highway with cars rumbling toward and away from the magnificent glittering tree that people from several counties away would drive to see. I recall lying in bed, wearing my Dr. Denton pajamas and watching the jalousie glass of my bedroom window flair up with bursts of white light as the headlamps of cars moved down and up my street.
As the evening wore on toward midnight and the traffic subsided, I would take just a few steps down the walkway from my front door, cross the swale into the street, and my eyes would fill up with the sparkling colors of this fairy-bush. Pure magic.