Yesterday my father told me that he was have vision problems.
“Everything is blurry,” he said, “and I feel like I’m seeing double.”
My heart sank. A stroke — the word ran through my mind, a leering devil of a word that filled me with fear.
He looked fine. He was standing, leaning gently on his walker. His speech was fine. He had walked from the porch to the kitchen with his walker and stood in the doorway talking to me.
“Let me wash your glasses for you,” I said, gently lifting them off his face. “Maybe that’s the problem.”
I carried them to the sink and ran water over the lenses, carefully washing first one lens and then the… oh my goodness — a lens was missing.
“You’re missing a lens, Dad,” I told him, and showed him by poking my finger through the frame. We both laughed because this was a much better explanation for the double vision than some of the alternatives.
I began searching and quickly found it where it had fallen on the floor. It’s not hard to pop back in. I’ve done it many times. Within a few minutes, everything looked normal again.
This morning, when he came out, he said, “I’m having a devil of a time.”
“What’s going on, Dad?” I asked.
“WHAT?! I can’t hear you! I can’t find this hearing aid,” he said, pointing to his right ear.
“I’ll find it for you,” I told him, and went to his bedroom where I usually could locate things like missing hearing aids in pretty short order.
I knew he was waiting for breakfast so I left the looking and went back to the kitchen.
“I can’t find it, Dad, but I’m sure we will,” I told him.
“What did you say?” he asked.
Later, when the home health aide came, we searched and searched. We stripped the bed, looked under every piece of furniture in his room, the garbage, pockets of clothes in the laundry, everywhere.
“My mother used to say, ‘It’s always the last place you look,'” I told the home health aide.
She laughed. My kids just get annoyed when I say that these days.
Finally, we gave up. “I guess I’ll have to call audiology,” I told her.
“Don’t call yet. It’s got to be here somewhere,” she said.
“I’ll wait until next week,” I said, hoping it would appear magically over the weekend.
We shouted the not-good news to my father while he sat reading the paper with his solitary hearing aid. Then I left to pick up Laurel at the pool.
No sooner was Laurel in the car than my phone rang. I handed it to her, asking to answer and put it on speaker phone.
“Sally?” crackled the voice of the home health aide. “Sally? You’re not going to believe this, but I found it. It was on the floor of the side deck right by that purple chair he sits in. It got rained on, but it still works.”
The real mystery is how it got there.
I had walked my father into his bedroom at 10:00 the night before, and I’m 95% sure he had it in his ear then. Some time during the night, it mysteriously made its way outside.
I don’t want to think about it.