The Blind Man’s House

popcorn2

I don’t remember directly resisting the visits—they were a change of pace, after all—but I do remember the unease that filled me every time we stood at George’s door, he with his walking stick in a cardigan and large dark glasses that hid even a side view of his eyes. I was a quiet kid and communicated mostly in smiles and facial expressions. Neither of which applied at George’s house. George’s front room was a library for audiophiles, decorated in vinyl, cassettes, and compact discs. George knew my dad from the stereo store, Sound & Service, owned by my grandpa and staffed by my parents when I was young. For a few years, until he remarried, we’d visit George in the evenings, my dad working on his sound system while my mom good-naturedly collected scattered popcorn kernels—George’s favorite snack. On the kitchen wall hung a cuckoo clock—a black and white cat with a tail that ticked the seconds, its eyes scanning the room like a possessed toy. Every fifteen minutes the cat would announce the time, echoed by George’s Casio watch. Time seemed important at George’s house. George was a retired band conductor, and spent hours sitting in his dim living room listening to Beethoven and Tchaikovsky on cassette. The tapes were easier than vinyl, their braille labels convenient. I saw the braille as a secret code, mysterious and alluring. The labels could be stamped with curse words, and I wouldn’t know. His kitchen walls were pink and the hall carpet green shag. The buttons on George’s phone were extra large and fun to press. At Christmastime, my mom would put up his tree because, she said, he still liked knowing it was there. While she strung lights I’d sit at her feet playing with a box of troll dolls—green, blue, orange. I made up stories and tried to ignore the clock. We’d leave, and I’d look to the lake and wonder what it felt like to know it was right there—to smell it and hear it—but to never see the sailboats or water skiers, the sunsets or the fireworks. I kept my eyes closed the whole ride home, immersed in my other senses, wondering how common it was to go blind.

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About Amanda Eike Koehler

I write to live. I love when I can love life; sometimes it's hard. View all posts by Amanda Eike Koehler

4 responses to “The Blind Man’s House

  • sherry Koehler

    Another insight into an event that makes you who you are. I appreciate details such as your mom cleaning up popcorn kernels, the color of the walls, and the cardigan sweater. Time is an important marker in the life of a blind person, how interesting that as a small child you were able to grasp and hold onto the point.

  • Jaclyn Eike

    Every story you write makes me realize how much you were absorbing as a young child. You were so quiet that I never knew what you were thinking and this gives me an incite to that. I remember the one time we took George to the play “Nunsence” I had to tell him what the actors were doing on stage so he would understand why people would laugh. He so enjoyed that time out.

  • Kit Simmons Sievers

    Enjoying your stories! Especially this one about George. He was married to my Aunt Caroline, my Dad’s sister. I don’t remember the clock but I remember the music he played for me and my kids. They have good memories of visiting them too. Thanks!

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