From his seat at the head of the table, Master Robinson nods for another tale. The chimera comes up on its hind legs. I sidle behind its musty bulk to refill its mug with wine. The pitcher taps against the rim of the goblet, and a birdsong of silver and bone sounds high and sweet. Master Robinson smiles at me, and I love him.
‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ is a 1946 black and white motion picture rightly regarded as a classic. William Wyler directed this film from a screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood based on a novel by MacKinlay Kantor. The movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.
One actor, Harold Russell, won two Academy Awards for his performance in this film: an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and a special honorary award “for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.” By casting Russell, who had lost his hands and forearms in a military training accident, the film shattered a major cinematic taboo: he was the first physically disabled person ever cast in a major role. To this day, Russell remains the only actor to win two Oscars for the same performance.
“Goldie won’t cry,” the principal had declared with the certainty of an experienced seer more than eight decades earlier, and that marked nobility of strength would define her always. It was on a heat-choked summer’s day—the kind of late-June day when the hushed humidity causes the greenery to seem wavering in irrationally insistent sunshine—when the compact ambulette delivered Mom to the hospice. And even in the Sisters of Divine Mercy Home, a little Temple of Transition for the terminally ill that faced the East River, reeking of bleach and sanitizers, mixed with the fragrance of jovially funereal floral bouquets, she remained regally calm and centered.
In keeping with my role as liaison between the sighted and blind communities, I offer this sensitive topic. This article is born out of many years of being on the receiving end of some pretty—let's just call them "uneducated"— comments regarding the subject of legal blindness. I experienced it again this week. Meeting a new person in a new location, they asked me if I enjoyed the video we'd just seen. I said I couldn't really see the video too well because I am legally blind. However, I liked the music. I tried to keep it light, because I could feel the questions coming.
The woman who lay in the bed was old. So old that the veins showed blue through the paper-thin skin and the flesh had melted into a delicate skeleton under that same covering. Beside her the nurse sat quietly. It was a waste of money hiring her to watch the old lady, but then the family had it to waste. Her patient was a pleasant change. She might be uneducated, with the faint accent of her childhood, but she was always polite. Grateful for the caring, uttering her thanks in a weakening voice.