The Ending of a Story

In the optical industry we encounter all types of people, all types of situations. It is one of the reasons I love what I do. I have been in the optical industry a relatively short time, but have met so many incredible people and experienced some incredible things. I would like to share two special stories of people I have encountered as an optician.

There was an older man that would pull up in his vintage gold '78 Lincoln every other weekend in search of a replacement temple for his large, gold metal, double bridge frame that he's had since the mid 90's. He always wore a vintage gold puffy vest that matched his sweet ride. He looked like a character out of a bad 70's movie. I tried everything I could do to get a replacement temple or repair his glasses, but was unsuccessful. He was such a sweet old man. He was frugal but he was cool. One day I was talking to my coworker, wondering why the gold, double-bridge man had not stopped by in a while. The following day, a lady came in asking for a particular frame style. She was looking for a large, gold metal, double bridge frame. She explained to me that she needed it for a friend who had passed away recently. They were arranging an open casket funeral but couldn't find his glasses. She was worried that none of his friends or relatives would recognize him without them. When she mentioned his name, my heart sunk. It was the same cool dude that would stop by every other week in that '78 Lincoln. He had been sick, but his stubbornness kept him from seeking the medical treatment he needed. He passed peacefully in his sleep. I will miss him and his double-bridge.

I have a patient that came in a few months ago and chose a funky frame with progressive lenses. He's 68 years old. He has had very little experience with progressives, he came in a couple weeks later to complain about the lenses not working correctly. He seemed agitated and impatient. I tried to explain to him how the lenses works and how to properly use them. After arguing back and forth for a few moments, I finally told him in a stern voice to put the glasses on and look at me. I said “put your chin down. What happens to me? Put your chin up. What happens to me?” He responded “you get blurry, then clear and then blurry again”. It seemed like such a simple thing to do, but it worked. He finally understood how to use his new progressives. I felt bad for being so aggressive with him, but he seemed to respond well to it. He shook my hand and went on his way. He returned a week later excited about how his new glasses were working and wanted to get another pair. Ever since then, he has come in every other week just to say hello and browse our funky frames. We talk about exotic birds, trains, his travels abroad, pharmacology, almost anything. Over the past few months I have grown very fond of this man. I have learned that he is very ill. He has very little time left in this life. His mind is very strong, his body very weak. He wants to spend all of his money before he dies. He wants to have the funkiest glasses to shock all the residents at the nursing home where he lives. He says “OH! They are going to drop dead when they see these glasses, literally!” He tells me about plans to visit his girlfriend in Lake Tahoe. He said he can't travel because of his condition, but that he must do it. His fear is real. His fear is humbling. I had to talk him out of spending all of his money for another pair of glasses. I told him to use the money to go to Lake Tahoe. My hope is that he will go to Lake Tahoe, my fear is that he will go to Lake Tahoe and never return.

Meeting these two men made me reflect on how I live my life. Will I struggle with fears toward the end of my life? Will I let those fears keep me from the ones I love? Will I hide my fears to spare the sadness of my loved ones? Who the hell knows. I just hope that I will go out with a funky pair of glasses and a sweet ride to go with them!