I don’t know what put the idea in my mind. Possibly it was an ad in the National Inquirer back in 1985, which showed a young lady who was being placed for adoption. This young lady had come from an abusive background, and while she wasn’t much more than skin and bones in the picture, she was wearing a pair of large plastic framed glasses that must have held lenses with a prescription of –10D or above. Or maybe it was the fact that in recent years my wife, 3 of her sisters, our daughter, and 2 of my first cousins had all spent the money for lasik surgery, and I no longer had any myopes in my immediate family to admire. But, most likely it was a combination of both these things along with my love for ladies who wear strong glasses.
It doesn’t really matter where the idea really came from. However, by the age of 58, I had decided that I would like to add to my immediate family by adoption. I discussed this first with my wife, and she had plenty of objections – all selfish I might add. I could understand her point. We had raised 3 children of our own, 2 boys and a girl, and I could see that the prospect of going through the teenage years all over again wasn’t a thought that excited her. But, I countered with the idea that we had more than enough money to take care of ourselves for the rest of our lives. Our 2 sons were both doing well with their own careers, and were making good wages. Our daughter and her husband were both schoolteachers, and were very well paid. So, I asked her what would be wrong with helping out an unfortunate child? Finally I wore down her resistance, and she agreed that if I wanted to, I could look into adopting a child, preferably a girl. I knew she would be partial to a girl, since we had 2 boys, and only one girl.
So, my wife and I filled out the forms. Since I was 58 when we started this process I had some requirements. I wanted the child to be no younger than 6 years old as of the date we applied, and her age should rise by 1 year for every year we had to wait. My thought behind this was that I was reasonably healthy, and would conceivably live until the age of 76. So, any child we adopted should be well over the age of 21, and out of university by the time I was that age – probably around 24 years old. As we discussed this with the childcare worker that we were speaking with, I could see that she was quite impressed with my thoughts. I knew that our ages were against us, but this seemed to allay her fears.
"Will you consider a child with any disabilities sir?" The childcare worked asked.
"I don’t think that would be a good idea. We will not be around long enough to support a disabled child into middle age. And I will be perfectly frank with you Ms. Miller, I don’t think my wife and I could stand loving and loosing a child from illness. Of course, a child with a hearing disability who can hear with hearing aids, or a child who wears glasses would not be a real problem." I replied.
I could see Ms Miller write "glasses ok" on the paper she had in front of her. This was great. If this worked out I could possibly have myself a nearsighted, adopted daughter.
Once the forms were filled out my wife and I went home to wait. One year went by, and then another passed. Still there was no word from child services. In the third year we received a call to come in to interview a child. When my wife and I went to child services we were introduced to Jamie, a 7-year-old girl who wore very thick plus glasses and hearing aids. Jamie was only 7 years old, so my wife and I felt she was too young. And, I really didn’t want a child who wore strong plus glasses. At the risk of angering child services we chose to pass on Jamie.
It took another 6 months before we received another call from them. This time the child was a 10-year-old girl. And, this time when I got my first look at Penny I knew we had found our daughter. Penny wore glasses, minus glasses. At first glance they didn’t look too strong, but I could tell that her frames were outdated, and small for her face. I couldn’t tell if the lenses were flat on the front, or if they had a slight plus curve to the front because of the small size. I knew that a flat front was usually used for a prescription of –9D or more for sure, and quite often they can be used at a prescription anywhere over –6D. But I couldn’t be sure. It was enough that Penny had a significant cut in, even in the small lenses.
Penny was very shy, and painfully thin. I suspected that there might have been a bit a bit of child abuse in her past. Her father had died from a drug overdose, and her mother was now in a mental hospital, and would never be released because her brains were totally fried from her usage of methadone. So, since Penny had no relatives, she was available for adoption. My wife liked Penny, and I liked Penny so we signed the paperwork, and Penny came home with us.
One of the first things I wanted to do was to get Penny to an eye doctor for a proper, attractive modern looking pair of glasses. So, I made an appointment with Skip Campbell, a golfing friend of mine, and the eye doctor who had looked after my wife and daughter. I really couldn’t blame Skip for the fact that they had chosen to have lasik, although I wish he had downplayed the idea a little. After Skip had finished examining Penny’s eyes he called Jane and I into his office.
"Well, Penny is pretty nearsighted. She came in wearing glasses with a prescription of –7.75D in both eyes, and I am showing that to give her 20/20 correction I would need to increase her prescription to –8.50D. Over the last few years the optometric profession has been coming under fire for giving highly myopic children their full correction. But it is a delicate balancing game, because if you leave a nearsighted child under corrected we have also been finding that these children become even more nearsighted because they are squinting and straining to see properly all the time. What I would like to propose is to give Penny her full correction, but with a bifocal correction for reading. Then I would like to have you bring Penny by every 3 months for a fast check to see how she is doing."
"Sounds like you have a handle on this Skip. But so far Penny doesn’t seem to be a big reader, and I know that kids don’t like bifocals. We can afford to buy Penny 2 pairs of glasses, with one pair having the reading correction for her to wear when she is doing schoolwork. And, I think Penny should also have a pair of good sunglasses." I replied.
"Will she be able to have the laser surgery like I had when she gets older?" Jane asked Skip.
"I doubt it Jane. Penny is already at the outer limits for Lasik, and her eye structure is such that I think Penny is going to be a very nearsighted lady by the time she reaches 21." Skip replied.
"What do you mean her eye structure?" I asked.
"Please remove your glasses for a minute Penny. Thanks. If you and Jane look at Penny’s eyes from the side you can see that they have a rather steep outward bulge. This is an indication that she is naturally nearsighted and will get progressively worse as she gets older." Skip informed us.
"How bad will she get Skip?" Jane asked.
"Well, a number of years ago I had another young lady with the same bulging eyes. We didn’t know anything about attempting to control myopia, and I think by the time her progression stopped she was up over –30D. Surprisingly enough she had very good vision with glasses, and was even able to drive. But, I think if we watch Penny closely we might be able to keep her well under –20D." Skip told us.
Jane and Penny and I headed for an optical store to buy Penny her new glasses. The optician was a little put out when I insisted that we didn’t want the expensive thin lenses for Penny, and I had a little argument with Jane about this as well. Finally, when I told the optician what Skip had said about Penny having another eye exam in 3 months she realized that if there was a prescription change in 90 days, they were going to have to remake the lenses for free, and she decided that now it was all right to use the cheapest lenses. Jane had just wanted the best looking glasses possible for Penny, but she also came around when the optician explained that in the small eye size that Penny had chosen the edges wouldn’t really be that thick.
So when we left the opticians Penny was wearing her new –8.50D glasses. Skip had specified plano base on the prescription, and even Penny’s –7.00D reading glasses had been made in the plano base. I had suggested that Penny’s old –7.75D glasses would be all right for Penny to read with, but Skip had pressured me to buy Penny a pair that had a prescription –1.50D less than her distance prescription. And, in the frames Penny and Jane had chosen Penny’s lenses didn’t really look too thick at all.
Penny was very pleased that we had gotten her new glasses. This helped her realize that we really were planning to keep her, and be her parents from now on, she began to come out of her shell a little bit. She certainly livened up our home, especially after school started, and she began bringing her new friends home with her. I had forgotten the amount of noise that 3 young girls could make, all laughing and giggling. It was great, and Jane and I loved it. Jane even admitted to me that I was right, that adopting Penny was probably the best thing we had ever done in our life.
As I mentioned, Penny wasn’t much of a reader, and we soon discovered why. She had never learned to read properly. She was also way behind her classmates in mathematics, spelling, and all the other subjects. Jane was now busy every evening teaching Penny the things that she had missed so far in her life. I loved to watch Penny doing her schoolwork, her reading glasses on her nose, and her work brought up much closer to her face than I thought proper. I had wondered why Skip had been so insistent on having Penny wear a lower prescription for close work, and then one day I saw Penny, wearing her regular distance glasses, with her nose held as close to the books as she did with her lower powered prescription reading glasses. Then I knew why. She would draw as close as she could to her work; no matter what prescription she was wearing.
We went back to see Skip right around the 3 month mark, and he decided to leave Penny’s prescription as it was for the next 3 months. He said she could use a little higher prescription, but she could still see pretty close to 20/30 with the glasses she was wearing. By the 6-month point though I knew that Penny was going to need new glasses. She was squinting at almost everything. And this time Penny was given a prescription of –9.50D. We only had to buy Penny a pair of distance glasses, as well as a new pair of sunglasses, because Skip was going to allow Penny to wear her old glasses to read with.
With love, and proper nutrition Penny was no longer the skinny little child we had first seen. She now looked like a very healthy young lady, and although Jane and I were not really into sports, Penny wanted to play baseball. So for her 11th birthday party we purchased Penny a pair of proper sport glasses, and a new baseball glove. The extra thickness of the lenses in the sports glasses really turned me on, and I wished I could have Penny wear them all the time.
The next couple of years flew by. Penny was enjoying her baseball playing, and with Jane’s assistance her grades in school had increased to the point that, while not at the top of her classes, Penny was getting B plus in almost everything. We were still taking her back to see Skip every three months, and by the time she was 13, her prescription had not increased for 2 years. This time Skip told us that Penny would require a very small increase, up to –10D in both eyes. He advised us that we could likely make it through to the next 3-month examination without Penny having a real problem, but he did say that if Penny were his daughter he would likely purchase new glasses for her. This was enough for me to hear. I wanted Penny to have new glasses for me to look at. Once, when my own daughter was in the early stages of wearing glasses, I had increased her prescription by –0.50D, and I would have loved to do the same thing with Penny, but Skip had told us that Penny would probably become even more myopic on her own, so I chose to take the smarter course, and leave everything to natural progression.
Our own daughter was pregnant, and Jane and I were about to become grandparents again. Sheila’s husband was a primary teacher at the school that Penny attended, and one or 2 nights a week Jim would take Penny over to their house for supper, and a visit. So, Jim and Sheila had become quite close to Penny as well. Sheila was in her 8th month when Penny came home one evening after a visit, and told us that Sheila had to get glasses.
I was a little shocked. Sheila had only been a –8.25D myope, and was supposedly a good candidate for the laser surgery that her mom, and 3 of her sisters had. Sheila needed a little touch up a couple of years later, and I felt that probably this was because she had the surgery before her myopic progression had stopped naturally. However, I didn’t expect her to develop any more myopia. This was burning inside of me, and I wanted to ask Sheila what had happened in the worst way, but I didn’t want to seem to be too interested. I had hidden my love of myopes for many years now, and I didn’t want to be found out now.
So, I managed to schedule a game of golf with Skip for the following afternoon, and I planned to ask him why Sheila was wearing glasses again. But, that evening Sheila dropped by to see her mother and I, so I managed to comment on the fact that she was again wearing glasses.
"I thought that the laser stuff fixed it so you wouldn’t have to wear glasses again?" I asked.
"Well, I thought so too dad, but it seems that I might have had it done a little too soon." Sheila replied.
"Why is that?" I asked.
"Well, a couple of years after I had it done they had to go back and do it again. Now I find out that some women develop a bit of myopia when they are pregnant, and it appears that I am one of them. But, since I have already had 2 laser surgeries, apparently I can’t go back for a third one. My corneas are too thin now. But Uncle Skip tells me that maybe my eyes will go back to what they were before after I am finished nursing, so I guess I will just have to wear glasses for a while." Sheila replied.
I hadn’t heard of that before, but now that she mentioned it I remember Jane having to get new glasses when she was pregnant with at least one of our kids. But Sheila’s glasses appeared to be a little stronger than the –0.75D or thereabouts that Jane had increased during her pregnancy.
"How strong are your new glasses honey?" I asked.
"Oh, they are only –1.50D dad. That is not very strong. I probably don’t even have to wear them all the time, but I hate things being a little bit blurred." Sheila told me.
Sheila stayed for supper, and Jim brought Penny home with him, so we had a pleasant evening. Now that I had the information I wanted, I could have cancelled my golf game with Skip. Skip really wasn’t my kid’s uncle, but Skip and his wife had been uncle and aunt to our kids for years, and Jane and I had been the same to their children. However, I didn’t want to do that, so we had a pleasant afternoon out on the links. I managed to ask a couple of questions about why Sheila had to wear glasses again, and I found out that this was a bit more common than Sheila had let on. Skip told me that he now suggests that young ladies wait until after their childbearing years before they have the laser surgery. Now Sheila will not be able to have another surgery, so she will likely wear glasses the rest of her life. I wasn’t sorry to hear that.
As Penny grew older, and went into middle school her myopia had increased a little bit every year. I had expected a few higher increases, but by the time she was 16, and ready for her eye test for her driver’s license her prescription was only around –14D. I didn’t mind though, as her new high index glasses still looked strong enough, and had a nice amount of cut in to satisfy my obsession.
Penny was very popular with my children. Any time my boys and their wives wanted to go out for an evening Penny was a convenient babysitter. She also looked after Bryan, Jim and Sheila’s son much of the time.
"What are you saving all your babysitting money for honey?" I asked her one day.
"When I am old enough I want to get my eyes fixed dad." Penny replied.
"Oh, I thought that maybe you might want to buy a car, or have some extra money for University. Why is it important to have your eyes fixed? You look fabulous with your glasses." I replied.
"Well, Sheila figures that you and mom will buy me a car, and she tells me that the two of you will pay for my university as long as I get good grades. But Sheila told me that you refused to pay for her laser surgery, and she said that you really argued against mom having it, so she doesn’t think that you will pay for me either." Penny told me.
"Well Sheila is right. I liked how Jane looked in glasses. I like how Sheila looks wearing her new glasses, and I find that you look extremely pretty wearing glasses. But Skip told me that you were too nearsighted to have laser surgery, so how can you have your eyes fixed?" I responded, knowing full well what the answer would be.
"Oh, Uncle Skip told me that when I am older I could have something they call lens implants. They are just like little contact lenses that they put in your eye." Penny replied to my question.
"But it is still surgery. Any form of surgery on your eyes is dangerous. And look at Sheila. She had 2 surgeries, and she still has to wear glasses. Actually she told me just the other night that her prescription has almost doubled with her second pregnancy. And, if you hate glasses so much, why have you not gotten contact lenses when your mom suggested it?" I replied.
"Well, I thought about getting contact lenses a couple of times, but I don’t like the idea of putting something in my eye. But permanent contact lenses would be all right." Penny said.
Now I was worried. From the sounds of it I was going to loose my last highly myopic glasses wearing female. I knew that this likely wouldn’t happen for 2 or 3 more years, and it was conceivable that I could be dead by then, but I was still in pretty good health.
"Do you know the main reason why I chose you to be my daughter?" I asked. I was ready to pull out all the stops to head this problem off at the pass.
"Because I was so cute?" Penny asked.
"You were a skinny, scrawny little thing with thick glasses. But I found you adorable because of your thick glasses. So, you can thank the fact that you wear glasses for bringing you into our household." Now I had said it. My secret was out in the open.
"Does this mean that you wouldn’t love me anymore if I didn’t wear glasses?" Penny asked.
"No, that is not the case. I will always still love you. I would just be disappointed that you no longer wore glasses." I replied.
"That’s what Sheila figured you would say Dad. Don’t worry, I like wearing glasses, and I am not really saving for an operation. But Sheila and I were talking the other day, and Sheila figured that you chose me because I wore glasses. She said that she has noticed that you always stare at ladies who wear glasses. So, I told her that I would find out for sure." Penny replied with laughter in her voice.
Busted!!! Now my secret was out. I didn’t know if I should laugh, or cry. So I decided to cry with joy that Penny wasn’t about to have surgery in the near future.