Friday, 27 April 2012
By Nancy Leitz
Sometime in the late 1940s, Pop Leitz' vision became very seriously impaired. Grandmom Leitz and daughter Frieda took him to a glaucoma specialist who told him that many of his eye problems were caused by his looking into the ovens over his many years as a baker. His right eye was so impaired it would have to be removed.
Mom always told the story of taking Pop to the specialist who made artificial eyes. He measured Pop and his good eye and tried to make the new eye look as much like the other one as he could.
Mom told us that he had Pop sit in a special light as he painted the artificial eye the same blue color and painted in the red veins to make the duplicate as much as possible like his real eye.
She told us that the "eyes" came in all price ranges and they selected one that was in the medium price range. Pop soon became used to the artificial eye and if he didn't mention it to you, it was almost impossible to tell that it was a "glass" eye.
Except when Carol used to go up to the bathroom at their house.
When she was about four years old, she announced that she was a big girl now and could go to the bathroom by herself. She went up the steps and after about a minute, we heard this blood curdling scream.
I ran up the steps and there she was in the bathroom with her panties down around her ankles screaming and pointing to the window sill. And, THERE IT WAS - Grandpop's eye!
He had removed it to take a nap and left it on the window sill. Ever after that, Carol would make sure Grandpop was in the living room with TWO EYES before she would go to the bathroom by herself.
One Thanksgiving Day, the whole family was gathered around Mom's table and Roy happened to look at Pop and there was a big tear coming down his cheek. Roy said, "What's the matter, Pop" Why are you crying?"
Pop said, "I'm not crying. It's this eye. It hurts sometimes."
Well, that statement infuriated Mom. She jumped up from her chair and shouted, "I did everything I could for this man. I took him to the best eye doctor around. I took him to the surgery. I took him to the artist who made the eye look so real.”
Then came the line that we have all repeated for more than 50 years. "If I knew Pop was going to live this long, I would have bought him a better eye."
We moved to Virginia in 1962, and by that time Pop was retired and he, Mom and Ernie were living very uneventfully on Front Street. We drove up to Pennsylvania as often as we could to visit.
In the fall of 1964, we received a call from Mom who told us that Pop was sitting in his chair in the living room and would not move. She and Ernie thought that he had had a heart attack but he refused all medical treatment. He said he just wanted to die in his chair.
Roy and I packed up the kids immediately and rushed up to Darby to see him. Roy was the only one he would listen to.
He was still sitting in the living room and Roy asked how he felt. He told him that he didn't feel well at all. Roy mentioned that he could tell that he was in a lot of pain and Pop nodded his head "Yes," agreeing he was in pain.
So, Roy reasoned with him by telling him that although he was in great pain, it didn't look like he was going to die so wouldn't it be better if he went to the hospital where they would relieve the pain?
Pop agreed and said, "Well, call the ambulance, I pay for that service every year. Let them take me."
Roy suggested that he was better off to let him take him in the car so all the neighbors wouldn't be looking, so that is what he did.
I called the hospital and told them that Roy was bringing his father to them because he thought perhaps he had had a heart attack. They told me they would be looking for them and would take Pop in right away.
When they got to the hospital, they put Pop on a gurney and wheeled him into the examining room. A young intern came in and looked at Pop, then took out his flashlight and looked into Pop's GLASS EYE, then looked up at Roy and said, "How long has this man been this way?"
Roy answered, "About three days."
The doctor very sarcastically said, "You rushed him right over, didn't you?"
He looked in the GLASS EYE again and pronounced Pop DEAD! "Sorry to tell you, but your Father's dead."
Pop, who had been very quietly lying there through all this, jumped up and shouted. "Gosh shenk it, I ain't dead yet."
Whereupon the young intern turned white and as the blood drained from his face like a window shade going down, he ran from the room, never to be seen again.
A different doctor came in and we mentioned the glass eye to him. He had a gigantic laugh and proceeded to examine Pop and said, "We have to run some tests to determine what is the matter with him. He will have to stay here for a few days."
Pop lived for more than 10 years after that. I'm not sure how long the young intern survived.
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