Mrs Carter's Eyes

Mrs Carter is 91 years old. Grandmother of one of my dearest friends (who moved to Auckland when we were young) and one of the most inspirational women I think I will ever meet. I just wanted to share some of her with you, because she is a woman who really deserves to be here in a community of other women who are just as precious to me.

A few years ago, I lived with my mother and stepfather in a house which was pretty much hell for me. One day as I was intercepting the mail as it came in (waiting for a note from school to say I missed classes that week) a letter arrived that was not meant for our address, but for Mrs Carter across the street. I had met her before through my friend Sarah (her granddaughter), so I ran across the street to return the letter to her. Mrs Carter was in the kitchen making tea in her little china cup when I arrived. Mrs Carter is blind. She lost her sight earlier that year, so I was quite impressed as she worked her way around the kitchen, refusing any offers of help, not spilling a drop of water or milk as she went. We sat in the big old worn arm chairs in her living room sipping our cups of tea and I admired her fine collection of books and music stacked on shelves which lined the big room as she sat running her fingers over the edges of the letter I had delivered. It was then she told me how much she missed reading. With teary eyes I took the letter from her hands and began to read the words on the page. That was the beginning of our reading dates. Every week I would go over to her little house and read whatever it was that she felt like hearing that day. My favourites were the books from when she was young, and when we would sit and listen to recordings of when she was a grand concert pianist. We still have these reading days to this day. Sometimes we sit in the sun on her back porch and I listen to her talk about her concerts, her 5 children, her grandchildren, and her lovely husband, Mr Carter, who has been married to her for around 70 years and they are still very much in love today. She lived through wars, through life threatening illness, through the deaths of her dearest friends and family members and there she sits, the most graceful, strong, Woman I know.

It took me a long time before I really mentioned her losing her sight. It was a cold day and we were sitting in those big old armchairs just like on the day I first went over there, I had just finished reading the newspaper to her, when I finally asked her how she felt about losing her sight. She told me that with all of those years under her belt, and all of the things she has seen, her eyes have done their job, and the rest is left to her memory, she remembers all of her grandchildrens' faces, and that is all she really needs to see.

Mrs Carter is just how I want to be when I am an old woman in my front room surrounded by shelves of books and music and memories. I wish you all could meet her.