Mind’s Eye

My mom-mom turned 96 this week.

A lifetime of doing crossword puzzles, reading, and independence has kept her mind sharp.

Her eyes, though, weren’t so lucky. She has macular degeneration, and maybe 5 years ago, she had her first cornea transplant in one eye. And that’s when things got wacky.

Mom-mom started seeing people
And old buildings
And plants.

When we drove her through town, she asked us why they put all the old buildings back up. Then she asked, “Why are the men were wearing suits and derbies. Is there a parade?” Even sitting by ourselves in her house she leaned in close to whisper, “What do they want? They just stand there all the time.”

OK, I thought to myself, Grandma’s had a good run , but now she’s lost it. To make it even more frustrating, she’d weave the hallucinations into reality. She’d walk around a man she saw to get orange juice from the fridge. Yet if I asked her about the people, she told me: “They aren’t really here, but I see them just the same.” Therefore, She couldn’t have lost it, if she could tell the difference between the hallucinations and reality. But something weird was going on. And weird things make me obsess over them until I can find an explanation—even if that explanation is equally weird.

Doctors did scans, and tests, and blood work. They found nothing.

So I’m thinking: Mom-mom has reached that stage where she’d seeing things like they used to be.
Unfortunately, Millsboro has never had buildings larger than three stories, and she was seeing sky scrapers. So that wasn’t it. And one time she told me she couldn’t eat her cereal because there was a huge tree growing in her bowl. She definitely didn’t have that growing up.

So next I’m thinking: Could they be spirits trying to comfort her? Could they be her deceased relatives here to escort her off to a better place? But she told me the people never spoke to her or acknowledged her at all. They just stood around all the time. That’s not comforting; that’s stalking. And spirits would have better things to do.

I’ve watched my share of movies like Blink, where the eye retains some of what the previous owner saw. And this weirdness started when she received the cornea transplant. So now I’m thinking: What if these are the former cornea owner’s memories. Except for the tree in the cereal bowl, that could work. After six months or so, Mom-mom’s eye rejected the cornea, and she had to get a replacement. The buildings and 1920’s people were gone.

But then she got another cornea transplant, and now she sees children. Children climbing on her furniture and coming through secret passages in the wall. And when I went to visit her an hour ago, she saw kids running up and down the empty hall.

I was perfectly happy to accept the Blink theory of eye image retention, until my in-laws handed me an article two days ago about Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Apparently people have been diagnosed with this craziness since 1780, yet none of our doctors had heard of it.

I feel a sense of closure knowing this condition has been recognized for a couple centuries. However, I’m still going to obsess over why the visions changed with the cornea.

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About tonyvarrato

I teach, write YA novels, take random pictures, and tell bad jokes. View all posts by tonyvarrato

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