The Blind Man

aliciasummers56 By aliciasummers56, 22nd Feb 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

The story of a man who never asked for anything, but recieved it all

Our Friend Mike

Mike was blind. There was no getting around it. The bridge of his nose had been smashed in with a beer bottle when he was around sixty years old by a group of roudy youth who were assumably intoxicated. The part of the bridge of his nose that had been broken was forced into his optical nerve and severed it, resulting in permanent blindness.

He rarely left his house, and when he did it was only with a companion he trusted completely. Even that was an uncertainty, for in his life, Mike had suffered many hardships, and many happenstances had led him to develop a conditional and often unstable trust in whom ever came his way, no matter how trustworthy that person was. His house was located in such a place on the street that most people might not have even noticed his lonely existance, in fact it was only by chance that Mike entered my life, and the lives of my entire family.

When I was only about six years old, my father, a youth minister for a church nearby Mike's house, was told about Mike from a friend of his, and immediately made a visit to see if Mike would accept his offer to help him in any way. Being blind, there wasn't much Mike could do for himself, other than take care of his immediate needs. His house was filled with clutter, and whether he was aware of it or not was beyond anyone who knew him. Soon enough, my father was able to convince Mike to allow a group of kind-hearted teenagers to come and help improve the condition of the interior of his house. These teenagers had a great challenge ahead. Mike, although blind, knew exactly where everything was, which meant that he would be aware of anything he treasured that was out of place.

For about fifteen years, Mike was given constant care and attention by my father, my family, the youth group and others who had been gracious enough to give him aid when we couldn't. Mike was always invited to family gatherings and special dinners with my family, since all of the family he had at that point had all passed away. He was a pleasant guest who always had a story or two to tell about his many adventures at home alone with his cat, Bobby, who had been his constant companion for most of his life.

Bobby soon died, and later on in his life, Mike developed liver disease, which forced him to be put in intensive care. After a few weeks of special care and much treatment, Mike was admitted to the hospital where he then died. While he was in intensive care, I had a chance to visit Mike, at first believing that the only reason my father had brought me along was just to visit Mike and talk to him. I was to find out, though, that Mike's health was following a downward spiral and that this would most likely be the last time I would ever see him. More over, since I had just turned 18 the day before, I was needed to be present as a witness to the writing and signing of Mike's will.

This day being a friday, and my first full day of being 18, visiting a dying blind man in a hospital for the entire evening wasn't exactly on the top of my list of things I wanted to do. As I walked into Mike's room, I was immediately aware of the sound of a man in pain, groaning indistinguishable words--indistinguishable, I soon discovered, because his front teeth had fallen out, leaving a small window-like gap revealing his bottom teeth in their entirety.

Once I was allowed a full view of the source of the groaning, it felt like my entire body had froze; my heart had dropped rapidly into my gut, for I was met with the devastating reality that it was in fact Mike who sat there in agony. Shaking, brittle, and desperately calling out to anyone who would listen, Mike, dressed in hospital clothing, lay there repeating the words, "I am in pain, someone help me.." My father spoke first, being the first to enter the room, and assured Mike that we would get help for him.

After Mike had finished telling us all about the pain he was in, we each took turns attempting to change the direction of the conversation so as to distract Mike from the fact that he was in pain. Mike's nurse soon came in and began to comfort Mike, as our conversation continued. The nurse soon left to retrieve something for another patient, and my father grew curious of where some other friends of ours who were coming to visit were, for they were supposed to have met us there. He left the room, and, as he was leaving, he turned to me and whispered, "Keep him company for a little bit."

Again I froze. It was just me and Mike, alone in a room--alone, that is, save for the other patient at the opposite end of the room--and with seemingly nothing in common. I nervously shuffled to Mike's bedside. I went to speak, but then realized that even if I did know what to say, I wouldn't know where to start. What is there to say to a dying man who can't even see you or hardly even hear you? I quickly ruled out death, dying, or pain--not that I would normaly converse about such things, but those were the most up-front subjects my desperate brain coud pull from the air.

Time was moving slowly, it seemed, but I knew my time to speak was running out quickly. Puling myself together, I began telling Mike about my own life, for I knew not enough about his life to converse freely about it. I told him how old I was, what grade I was in and what I liked to do, often having to repeat myself for the pain he was feeling and his own hearing problems had prevented him from hearing me at certain times. Then I told him about my future plans, where I wanted to go to college, and what I wanted to study; psychology.

A smile appeared on Mike's face; it was the first time I had seen him smile all evening, and indeed the last time I would see him smile. Still smiling, Mike explained that in his youth he had also studied psychology and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was then that I realized something I hadn't thought of before. In all the years I had known Mike, I had never once heard him ask for one little thing. He didn't ask for our help, or for anyone's attention, it had simply just been given to him. Not because he felt helpless, hopeless, or unimportant, but because he understood that he wasn't the center of the universe. For years, everything everyone he knew ever did was for his benefit, and it seemed like everyone's world revolved around him. As helpful as that was, he never wanted that. So for this one moment, maybe for the first time in his life, he had felt a relief that for once the conversation hadn't begun with, "So Mike, what would you like to do?"


The smile faded soon, as my father and those friends of ours re-entered the room and delved into the world that held Mike as its most important person. The conversation now turned to the legalities and rules of his will and how he would need to leave his belongings with someone he trusted. Having no family, as I mentioned, Mike had decided to leave his house and all that was in it to my father and another man who was present. One sentence on a piece of loose leaf paper and his own signature made his will, and the signatures of two witnesses--myself and the other man's wife--made it official.

We all said our goodbye's to Mike as the nurse came in to prepare him for bed. An unexplainable feeling enveloped my heart and soul as we left the building to head for home. This feeling of what I can only identify as a solemn realization of the truth captivated my thoughts as I sat there in the passenger seat for the next hour. I thought of what I had seen, still unable to believe that it was Mike who was laying there, frail and withering like an aged flower. I thought of the pain etched in his every word and every movement he made. Then I thought of that smile, how for one minute I had made his life just a little easier by shifting the focus from his needs to my aspirations. Indeed, I had brought life back into his life, and that fact alone made the otherwise depressing experience worthwhile.

Mike would leave this world a week after that day. A small handful of people attended his funeral, and each person had a story or two to tell of Mike's life from the time he was young until his death. All of us marveled at the connections we all had but were never aware of and at the fact that just by being blind and alone, Mike had brought us all together. It could be said that we had each touched Mike's life in our own ways of being there for him, but in reality, Mike had touched each of us by allowing us to make him a part of our lives, and that, I believe, is the greatest gift ever to be given.

RIP Michael Kocak

Tags

Blind, Blind Man, Blind People, Blindness, Life, Life Changing, Life Journey, Life Lessons, Lifestyle

Meet the author

author avatar aliciasummers56
I am 18 years old, and I absolutely love to write. I really could just write about everything, but personal issues and experiences are easiest for me.

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Comments

author avatar Martin King
25th Feb 2011 (#)

Thanks for the share I enjoyed the read

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