Sharon Randall: True vision

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2022

What’s your earliest memory, the first thing you recall seeing and have never forgotten?

I was a baby, crying in my crib, all alone in the dark. Suddenly, through a window, I saw the moon. And the moon saw me. I smiled and the moon smiled back. Then it reached down to wrap me up in its long arms of light. And I fell fast asleep.

Did that really happen? I don’t know. But I think of it whenever I see the moon, or feel afraid. It always makes me smile.

True vision — the ability to see with more than our eyes — is one of life’s finest gifts.

As a child, I used that gift to find my way through a troubled world. A look on my mother’s face would tell me to leave her be. A path in the woods would lead to a place of peace. A dog at my heels told me I had a friend. And a sunset on the mountain would sing of life’s beauty and promise me better days ahead.

When I was 4 years old, my mother introduced me to what looked like a sack of potatoes wrapped in a yellow blanket.

“What is that?” I said.

“That’s your brother,” she said. “Call him Joe.”

She didn’t say he was a prophet, but I could see it in his eyes. When Joe was 6 months old, crawling like a box turtle that’s chasing a beetle, my mother told me he was blind.

“He can’t be blind,” I said. “He always smiles at my face.”

“He smiles at your voice,” she said. “He’ll never see your face.”

From that day to this, thanks to my brother, vision is a gift that I never take for granted.

Joe taught me both to see and to hear. He opened my eyes and my ears and even my heart to sights and sounds and feelings that I had never noticed.

“Sister,” he’d say, “what does that look like?” And I’d try to describe the wind in the trees or the ticking of a clock or the color of a cardinal’s wings, so many pieces of life’s beautiful puzzle that I had never put into words.

He’d say, “Hey, listen! Mama’s home!” Then our old Ford would pull into the yard. He knew every car and its driver by the rattle of its engine and the growl of its tires on the road.

Singing him to sleep was a chore, but it was easier to sing than to argue. When he finally drifted off, he’d keep my thumb locked in his fist. Some chores are worth doing to feel needed.

Joe and I have lived our adult lives thousands of miles apart, but somehow we’ve stayed close.

We both were married (Joe for 10 years, I for 30) to wonderful people. Losing them to cancer taught us how to grieve, a lesson we never wanted to learn. We also lost our mother, stepfather and younger brother. And with every loss, we grew closer.

Our view of the world is never complete without insight and imagination. We need to picture everyone and everything not only with our eyes, but with our minds and hearts and souls.

We can choose to look for the best in life, in strangers and loved ones (even loved ones we don’t like); to find hope in despair, courage in fear, joy in sorrow and gratitude in need; to be kind and offer forgiveness and grace, even to ourselves.

True vision is a never failing belief in better days to come.

When my children were born, I wanted the first thing they saw in life to be love. So I held them up to my face and waited until they opened their eyes and looked into mine. Then I smiled and said, “I am your mama. And I will love you forever.”

Now they have children that I think of as my own. Every day I close my eyes and picture them, one and all, at their absolute healthiest, happiest and best. I hope they picture it, too.

My totally blind brother is blessed with true vision. He lives alone, can barely walk, but seldom complains. Instead, he talks about the good he sees in life, the kindnesses of people in his church and how much he loves the Clemson Tigers.

If we look for the best, we will find it. Just close your eyes and look around you. As Joe likes to say, even a blind man can see it.

Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924, or