She lay in the bed; her head slumped to one side and her book still held in her hand. Her glasses were slightly askew and her eyes, behind the thick myodisc lenses, were sleepy and closing. Just as she was about to drift off, the bedroom door opened and three children came in. The youngest, a pretty girl of about 6 jumped on the bed, and climbed under the covers next to her. She awoke with a start, and felt the love surrounding her, and she was as happy as she could possibly be.
"Tell us the story Grandma." spoke the second oldest child, another girl of about 8
She responded, "Now what story would that be?", knowing full well the one they wanted.
"You know Grandma - the one about you being the last one left," said the 10 year old, the oldest, and prettiest of the three girls.
" Oh, that one," she responded with faked surprise "Oh well, if that's the one you want, well, I guess I can tell it again. But are you not tired of hearing that story?"
There was a loud chorus of no's. So she began the familiar story in the usual way.
The year before the new millennium, in a small town in northern Wisconsin, a baby girl was born to proud parents who had been trying for a number of years to have children, without any success. They were so happy with the lovely baby that God had given them that they failed to notice that the baby, as she grew older, didn't seem to be able to see very well. Finally one day, the father told his wife that he was sure that their beautiful daughter didn't seem to be able to see anything without bringing it right up very close to her eyes.
So, the baby's first birthday was spent in the offices of a vision specialist, who told them that it seemed that the baby was extremely nearsighted. He had tested the child's eyes as well as he possibly could, and recommended that they give her glasses. In a couple of weeks the baby was wearing glasses with very thick lenses. Once the baby had her glasses her development was very rapid-she began to walk, and learned things very quickly.
Other than having to wear extremely thick glasses, nothing seemed to daunt this little girl. She grew up with love, and affection, as well as a very strong will. Her vision, with glasses was much less than 20/20, and although her thick glasses did help her vision, she was still visually impaired. She did do well in school, and she became a teacher. Her specialty was going to be teaching the visually handicapped. But, the technological gains of the 20th Century had turned into a flood. By the time she received her teacher's certificate, almost all vision problems had been eliminated, so she became a regular teacher. Anyone that was blind had implants of special artificial eyes that were like little cameras that were connected directly to the retina by special protein fibers. Anyone that was as severely nearsighted as she was had lens implants. Even her younger sisters, both also as seriously myopic as she was, had the lenses in their eyes removed and replaced with lens implants. It was getting to the point where almost all vision problems had been eliminated. Her sisters urged her to have lens implants, but she was stubborn, and was content with her relatively poor eyesight, and her thick myodisc glasses as it seemed that she had been wearing them all of her life. So, she refused to have anything done to her eyes to change her vision and improve it. By the time she reached the age of 30, and her own children were born, she was one of a diminishing number of eyeglass wearers. And the number of remaining contact lens wearers had also rapidly diminished as well. Her own children had been given a minor modification of their genes while still in the womb to eliminate the possibility of them being myopic.
As time went on, no one seemed to notice that more and more of the freedoms that she and her parents had grown up with had gradually disappeared, supposedly for the good of all the people. True, there was almost no violence anymore, and she couldn't remember the last time anyone had been murdered. It was rumored that anyone convicted of a violent crime was incarcerated for the rest of their life, and this seemed to be true, as they were never seen again. Recently though the rumors had started suggesting that these violent people were actually executed. This didn't seem possible, or even reasonable, but it was very nice to live without the fear of robbery, or any of the other violent crimes that had occurred so often in the 20th Century.
As her own children grew up, and she returned to teaching, she noticed that there were no more disabled children in the schools. She asked some of the other teachers about this, and was told that with the advances in technology, it was now possible to eliminate the problems in advance. But, she questioned, what about those that are hurt in accidents? This was met by silence. But one of the other teachers replied that if the injured child cannot be repaired, they are placed in the Everlasting Sanctuary. This satisfied her curiosity for a while, but as she kept hearing about this sanctuary, she began to wonder exactly what it was.
Then one day she received a call from her Mom, who was approaching 80. If an elderly citizen failed the annual examination, which was mandatory after their 80th birthday, they were asked to report to the Everlasting Sanctuary as soon as possible. Her Dad had just failed his memory tests, and had been ordered to report immediately. As she and her Mom said their goodbyes to her father, she realized that the Everlasting Sanctuary was just a polite term for a place where people were put to sleep forever, and she was horrified that this is what the world had come to. But no one else seemed to share her concerns.
As she entered her 50's she went to have her annual eye exam, and found out that her doctor was no longer around. Not only was he no longer there, but also she couldn't find any other eye doctor. It seemed that not only were eye doctors no longer needed, but neither were opticians, or lens grinders, or any other form of eye care. When she spoke to her own family doctor about this he advised her to get her eyes repaired while she was still young enough, as she seemed to be the final holdout. And then he scared her by telling her that if she could no longer see well enough to function, she would be asked to report to the Sanctuary.
Realizing that she was probably the last one left, but not wanting to give in, she gathered up all of her old pairs of glasses, and with the help of her husband they fixed up about 10 pairs of her old glasses. She didn't worry about any change in her vision, as she had only had a couple of changes since she had turned 20, and her prescription had been stable, and unchanged for over 30 years.
She thought long and hard about the new world that she was living in. There was no crime, no sickness or health problems, no unemployment, no mental illness, no poverty, no wars and no pollution. Was this a fair trade for no elderly and for the putting of people to death that didn't meet certain standards? Did humanity cost the world so much that they had to eliminate everyone that wasn't` perfect? Her husband didn't seem to think it was a problem, nor did any of their friends or her children, so maybe she was just the odd one.
Time passed and her children married, and had children of their own. Her husband had passed away quietly in his sleep in their own bed, and as she got older and her time was also approaching she hoped that she could go this way as well, rather than having to report to the Sanctuary on orders of the authorities. She was now down to only a couple of pairs of glasses now, and she knew full well that if she broke them, she was too old for any surgery. Without her glasses, she was hopelessly blind and she would be sent to the Sanctuary but she was still very stubborn and made up her mind that she would not go peacefully. If she would break her glasses and if her doctor advised the authorities that she was unable to live a normal life without them, she would be forced to report.
"And children, so far that's the end of the story. Your grandmother is the last one left that wears glasses, and, I guess that there will never be another person wearing glasses in the world. Now, all of you run off to bed, and let your grandmother get to sleep," she told the three of them as she hugged each one and kissed them
That night she got her final wish and she did not have to report to the Sanctuary.
The grandchildren insisted that their grandmother had to be able to see in heaven, so she was cremated wearing one of the remaining pairs of glasses. The youngest of the grandchildren insisted that their father make a display from their grandmothers last pair of glasses. Their father took a piece of thin wood, covered it with velvet, drilled 2 holes for the temples, and put the temples through to the back where he fastened them so they would remain forever on the velvet covered board. He then placed this in a frame, and hung the glasses on the living room wall, where they remained as a fond memory of the loving grandmother who was the last one left.
Specs4ever, with much help from A.J.