The first time I ever heard the name Brittany Thomas is still firmly fixed in my mind. My dad was a doctor, and I remember my mom and dad discussing a young lady that he had as a patient. From what I could gather from their conversation, this young lady had been very ill, with a viral illness. By the time she had recovered her health after the virus, apparently her eyesight had become very poor, and it had not recovered. I remembered all this because for years my mom had told everyone that her poor eyesight was a result of a viral illness she had suffered when she was a child. I also remember that my dad often said that there was no proof that a viral illness would affect a person’s eyesight, and it was quite likely that my mom just had naturally poor eyesight. But, having treated Brittany as a patient since Brittany was a small child, and knowing that Brittany had not had any vision problems prior to her illness had lead my father to believe that perhaps it was possible that a viral illness could affect eyesight in the same way my mom said it had affected hers.
From the time my sister and I were babies we were cautioned to keep our hands away from our mom’s glasses. Of course we really didn’t know why, as we knew absolutely nothing about eyesight, and the fact that the thicker a lens was the more powerful it was. I remember the time I was around 6 years old. I was playing in my bedroom, and I heard my mom shout for me. This shout scared me enough that I dropped everything I was playing with, and rushed downstairs. Mom had been taking drapes down off the hooks in order to wash them, and as she removed the last hook, the drapes had somehow fallen on her and knocked her glasses off her face. I remember that mom was just standing fixed in one spot, and I could see her glasses lying on the floor. After I handed her glasses to her, I realized that she really couldn’t see her glasses, lying just a few feet away from her eyes, so I then knew that her vision was pretty darned bad.
When I heard mom and dad discussing Brittany, I was very interested. For some reason I found my mom’s strong glasses to be very intriguing. Since the incident with the glasses on the floor, I had begun looking at other ladies glasses, and I realized that mom’s glasses were by far the thickest ones around. I didn’t have a chance to meet Brittany, and see what she looked like, because Brittany lived on the other side of town. She went to Sterling Junior High, and I went to Magnolia, so it was unlikely that I would have a chance to meet her. I did know that we were in the same grade at school, and I knew that I was older than she was by at least 6 or 7 months.
I had just turned 16 my first year at Morgan High. There were 3 grade 10 classes, and the name Brittany Thomas had long ago been shelved in the back of my mind. I never even thought of her name long enough to try to see if she was in one of the other grade 10 classes. I wasn’t much for sports, nor was I considered a prime catch for the ladies, as I was fighting a loosing battle against a case of childhood acne. But, there was a school dance one Friday night in late September, and I got talked into going with a group of my friends. We still hadn’t integrated with the students from the other Junior High school, so my friends were all ones I had gone to Magnolia with.
There was a group of 3 girls hanging around together, and my buddy Josh was interested in asking a petite little blond to dance. He conned Kenny into asking one of the other girls to dance, and, not wanting to be left out looking like the loser I felt I was, I went along to ask the third girl to dance. This young lady wasn’t really pretty, but she wasn’t ugly either. Plain, and ordinary looking was probably a very good way to describe her appearance. And as I drew closer, I could see that this young lady also suffered from a similar case of acne, so at least we had that much in common.
I wasn’t a really good dancer, but my partner seemed to be quite willing to help me out. So, after the first dance ended we stayed on the floor for a second and a third dance. I looked around for my friends, but I couldn’t spot them anywhere, so we continued dancing. Finally the group that was playing took a break, and when the music ended I walked this young lady back to the general area where she had been standing with her friends. They were not there, so I told her that I had enjoyed dancing with her, and I asked the girl her name.
“I’m Brittany, but my friends call me Brit.” Brit told me.
“Well, Brit, I hope I can be considered on of your friends now. My name is Jason. Can I get you a soda or something?” I replied.
“Just a water would be nice Jason. I am fighting a loosing battle against these zits, so I don’t really need anything with sugar.” Brit replied.
So, I went off to get Brit and myself a bottle of water. As we sat drinking it we talked about our former schools, and a few other things. As I started to get to know her, I realized that Brittany was actually an attractive, and a very nice girl. But, I also could tell that she suffered from self-esteem problems like I did. Then we got into talking about our parents.
“You don’t know how hard it is to be the son of one of the only 3 doctors in this town. Everyone knows my dad, and I can’t get away with anything.” I told her.
“Jason? Are you Jason Garvey?” Brit asked.
“That’s me. See, even you know who I am. Are you one of my dad’s patients?” I asked.
“Your dad has been my doctor ever since I was born. He has been telling me about your mom. Apparently she has the same problem with her eyes as I do.” Brit told me.
It came to me in a flash. “Brittany Thomas. You are Brittany Thomas, and you were very sick, but when you recovered you were left very nearsighted like my mom. How come you don’t have to wear glasses?” I replied, stupidly not thinking of contact lenses.
“I wear contact lenses. My glasses are so thick and awful looking I can’t stand wearing them. Could you imagine me with all these zits, and thick glasses too? You would never ever have asked me to dance.” Brit said.
“Well, I might have. My mom has to wear pretty thick glasses, and she can’t wear contact lenses, so I am used to her wearing glasses. I don’t think they make her look ugly or anything.” I said.
“If that is the truth then you are probably the only guy in town who thinks that way.” Brit replied.
We stayed together for the rest of the evening. Brit’s parents came by after the dance and picked her up. I walked home with Kenny, because Josh had chosen to walk the pretty little blond home. Kenny kidded me about how I had stuck to Brittany like glue all night, but I think that he might have just been a little jealous, since he had not connected with any of the girls he had danced with.
Brittany and I were together for the remaining years of High School, and we wanted to go to the same university together. I was really quite smart in school, and my dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps as a doctor. However, I didn’t really want to be a G.P. I was intrigued with eyes, and vision. Brittany had finally come to the realization that her wearing glasses really didn’t bother me at all, so once in a while she would give her eyes a rest from her contact lenses, and we would go out together. Once in a while she would also wear glasses over to our house for Sunday dinner. She and my mom would often talk about how dependant they were on the 2 chunks of super thick plastic that they had to wear for lenses in their glasses. Mom’s eyes had been stable for many years, but Brittany was still getting higher prescriptions, usually about once a year.
I was thrilled the Sunday that mom tried on Brittany’s latest pair of glasses and exclaimed, “My goodness dear, your glasses are stronger than mine now!”
Brittany blushed with embarrassment, and I was secretly thrilled. I had hoped this would happen.
Brittany and I were accepted to the same university. I could see no reason why we should not room together. Heck, I wanted to marry her. However both our parents were against this idea, so we ended up living in dorms for the first year. But, by second year I wasn’t willing to be separated from Brittany any longer. We discussed it all summer, and against the wishes of our parents, we got a marriage license, and had a civil ceremony preformed. Now our parents realized that we were very serious. My dad, and my father in law pooled their money, and they bought us a house to live in that was not too far from the university. It was an older 3-story house, so Brit and I made the third floor into our apartment, and we rented out the 2 bedrooms on the second floor. This arrangement worked well, and we also lived there and worked in the city between our second and third year of university.
By the end of third year I had convinced Brit to take the necessary courses to become an optician. I had determined to specialize, and become an ophthalmologist. Since we got along together so well, we figured that an optician would compliment my practice.
Of course, Brittany was in the work force a few years before I was. She went to work for an optical chain, and within a year had been made manager of her branch. Her own experiences with contact lenses over the years, as well as her own very strong glasses made her an extremely good optician, and she also seemed to be a natural boss.
After I finished my residency I was quite surprised when the chain that Brittany worked for wanted me to join them. After all I was not just a simple optometrist that they could hire cheaply. So, I spoke to the upper management, and I discovered that this chain was very interested in proper eye care, rather than the get ‘em in sell ‘em glasses get ‘em out philosophy that was so prevalent in these types of chains. So, I became the consultant for the company. I actually went around to various stores, and assisted the optometrists with any difficult cases. After a while I realized that the main reason they had given me the job was that they didn’t want to loose Brittany as an employee, but this was working well for both of us.
Neither my sister, nor I had shown any signs of being the least little bit myopic. So, since mom hadn’t passed any myopia on to us, Brittany and I had no concerns about her passing on her poor eyesight to any children. When Brit was 30 she became pregnant, and we were blessed with a healthy baby girl. A couple of years later, a boy followed.
It was a little surprising to me when, at age 3, our daughter was discovered to be slightly myopic during a routine eye examination. I decided that glasses were not necessary for such a small amount of beginning myopia. However, a year later when I again examined her eyes I discovered that her prescription had increased by over –1D, and she really should wear glasses with her now –2D prescription.
Mom had not shown any progression of myopia beyond the –18D she had ended up with after her illness. But Brittany had started with a much lower prescription, and had steadily increased to her present day –25D. Was it possible that Brittany would have been a high myope anyway, even without her illness? Was this why our daughter was developing myopia?
I didn’t care what the answer was. I was just thrilled to have my wife as a very high myope, and I didn’t mind if my children grew up to be high myopes either. Here I was, in a profession where I got to see high myopes all the time, and I still couldn’t get my fill of them.