I didn’t notice it until I was 40 or so, but my dad had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. My folks were passing through the local airport, on their way to my sisters, and I went to join them for lunch on their layover, back when you could do that kind of thing. Dad had had some sort of eye treatment or operation and was not wearing his glasses for once. He had been wearing glasses nonstop for 60 years since sometime between the depression and the war they discovered he couldn’t see the board and he was hopelessly behind in his studies. He came out of the jet way and I did not recognize him at first, but I remember thinking, ‘man that guy has blue eyes’. Then he stuck out his hand to shake, before he got used to hugging, and said as he always did ‘hello Matthew’. I was so surprised. You think you know a guy….
A few years later dad was on his deathbed gently succumbing to COPD and lung cancer at a Hospice Care unit near my sister’s home. As his time drew near and we were all gathered around his bed, he sat up out of morphine stupor, opened his bright, baby blue eyes and looked around the room and at all of us one more time. Then he fell back into his bed and slowly passed away, allowing, relenting and permitting death to take him. His pulse in my hand receding from a frantic 200 beats a minute to nothing at all, in a matter of minutes. I remember strangely thinking again, ‘man that guy has blue eyes’.
They were kind eyes, humorous eyes, serious eyes, encouraging eyes. Empathetic eyes that could see the adult in every child and the child in every adult. Knowing eyes that saw the value of hard work and honesty, eyes that showed respect for everyone and saw that everyone had their own form of intelligence and integrity, perspective and point of view. Stern, strict eyes that help you know when you are wrong, that build discipline and character. Gritty eyes that looked up to the heavens for inspiration and down at the ground with perspiration, head down in determination, taking each task one step at a time, doing what he had to do to get it done. Loyal eyes that stuck with you, thru thick and thin, like the family and friends and the sports teams he adored. Irish eyes, between a smile and a tear.
Tired eyes that surrendered in his last years to a philosophy of ‘whatever’ and ‘what are you going to do’ when he lost interest in the politics and the pettiness of the world. Resolved eyes that teared up and winked at me the last time I saw him while he gave me the thumbs up, saying that he was OK, and to my relief, that I was OK. Non-judgmental eyes of acceptance and approval, respect and recognition, strength and surrender. The clear blue eyes of a simple, good man and my everyday hero.
I have seen it in your eyes
You had those bright eyed baby blues.
But there is one thing more,
I was hoping you might do.
Take your hand and lead me,
To the hole in the garden wall,
And pull me thru.