In case I don’t make it off the table

By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, January 24, 2015

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This morning in a staff meeting we were visiting about calendar events. Making an attempt at humor regarding my upcoming cataract surgery, I said, “I wanted you-all to know that I’m having my second cataract surgery next week. Don’t worry about me. If I don’t make it off the table, I know where I’m going.”

Gerre Joiner

Gerre Joiner

Got a snicker or two. Then Pastor Ken May said, “Yes, but you won’t see where you’re going!” Broke up the meeting!

My need for vision correction goes back 60 years. My sister, Carol (13 years older than I) voiced the opinion to my parents that she thought they should take me to see about my vision.

It wasn’t the first time my strong-willed, 18-year-old sister and my strong-willed, cotton-farmer daddy disagreed about something. Daddy thought I just wasn’t paying attention. Everyone wondered why I sat so close to the television set. Carol was the only one in the family to observe, “That doesn’t look right. Let’s check his vision.”

There was an impasse until the day we drove to Lubbock for a Sunday afternoon outing. Daddy parked the car about a block from a school building and said to my brother and me in the back seat, “That’s where your cousin, Sandra, goes to school.”

Pause. Silence.

Then another question from my dad, directed to little 6-year-old Gerre: “Do you see the school building?” I paused, then said, “No, sir.”

A while later, we had an appointment with the optometrist. Not long after that, we went back to Lubbock to get my new glasses. The lenses were very thick and made of real glass. They were heavy. There were plenty of reasons for the doctor to say, “He’s so young, he’s probably not going to like wearing these glasses.”

I never minded wearing the glasses.

I will never forget that profoundly important day I put those glasses on. I walked out of the building and saw individual leaves on trees. I saw birds in those trees. Colors were brilliant.

One of the few times we spent money on movie tickets back then came just a few days after I started wearing glasses. I think the movie was “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The experience was just wonderful because I could see well. I’ve worn glasses and/or contacts for about 60 years now.

A few weeks ago, a doctor performed cataract surgery on my right eye. Time elapsed from the “I’m awake, but I’m not concerned about you approaching my right eye with a knife” injection until the new lens was inserted was about 15 minutes.

I guess one of the reasons for today’s little story is to say a word of thanks to my optometrist and my friend, Dr. Tad Billmire. I’m thinking he goes to work every day and does what he does without thinking too much about changing people’s lives or opening up a world of leaves and birds and “creatures” for a 6-year-old child.

Dr. Billmire isn’t the doc who did the surgery, but he’s the one who found the cataracts and told me what to do about them. He recommended me to the lady with the knife, Dr. Winslow.

Trying not to spiritualize too much here, but I hope my life is like that. I’m not in the business of “fixing” folks.

But I can recommend One who can take the yielded “me” (warts, wrinkles, astigmatism and all) and lead me through this fallen world until the day I die. (Just remembering: I might not make it off the table).

I can only imagine what I’ll be seeing after that “twinkling of an eye” experience.

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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