Thursday, January 31, 2008

Red Mask in the Mailbox

Red Mask in the Mailbox
Chapter 8
Lesson in Color Blindness

When he reached age four, the doctors had told his parents that Thomas had a disease called Protanopia; a form of color blindness. He could not see the color red. The doctors had told the young parents that Thomas would never known the difference. To him, the whole world would look different than the way most people saw it. He would never see a sunset, a firetruck, or bottle of ketchup the way others did. Life would go on for Thomas, but there would be difficulties. Becoming a pilot was out of the question, because a pilot has to distinguish between red and green lights in order to land a plane.

A miracle had occurred when Thomas was struck on the head. When he looked at Mary Snodgrass’ red cardigan sweater, it was as if he had been wearing a mask since birth and for the first time in his life, he pulled it off.

On cold days, when Thomas was younger, the port wine stain on his face grew tender to the touch, but he could not see it. It blended with the rest of his face; because he was unable to see the color red. As a boy, his mother stroked the mark as he slept, as if the rubbing would somehow make it disappear. She ran her index finger from just above his eyebrow, across the bridge of his nose, then across his lip.

Margie remembered a story she had read in junior high school about a man and a mouse who were given an operation. They operated on the mouse first and he grew super smart. The man, although mentally unstable when he received the operation, grew smart like the mouse. He worked as a janitor at the laboratory and thought the people who worked with him were his friends. After the operation, he realized the people who he thought were his friends, were making fun of him and ridiculing him. He lost his innocent happiness. He became so smart, the only person he could relate to was the mouse.

Kids in school saw the red mark, but Thomas did not. “A blessing in disguise,” Mrs. Lucado called it.

“I love Thomas,” Margie told Mrs. Lucado, after she learned of Thomas’ color blindness, “but in some ways I feel like God has played a trick on me... Maybe He’s punishing me for something. I just don’t know.”

“Listen, Honey,” Mrs. Lucado said. “God has a plan for your life, just like He’s got a plan for mine, Thomas’s, and Joe’s life too. He’s got a plan for everybody’s life and it’s His choice how he makes us. You did not make Thomas, child. God made him, and he made him that way for a reason.”

“That's easy to say. He’s not your kid.” Margie said.

“Oh you don’t want to know what it’s like being in my shoes, darling,” Mrs. Lucado said, her southern accent drawn like a hidden ace pulled from a gamblers deck of cards. “I’ve never given birth to child one, but I would have loved to when I was younger. I wanted a baby so bad. I would have killed for one. Now I’m old and alone…My husband’s gone...”

“But doesn’t that make you angry with God?” Margie asked.

“It’s what God had planned for my life, child” Mrs. Lucado said while her eyes stared out the picture window.

“You must really get lonely living in this house alone,” Margie said.

“Sometimes I do, but that’s what neighbors are for,” she said. “Right?”

“Mrs. Lucado, you’ll always be welcome at our home.” Margie said. “I guess I did sound a little selfish, didn’t I?”

“Honey, you don’t sound any more selfish than I would be,” Mrs. Lucado said, “but just remember that the little boy God has given you is a blessing. Treat him as such, and never treat him as a mistake, or else he will come to believe that he is a mistake. Treat him as if he were a precious gift from God and he will grow up to believe that he is.”

“You know I was thinking about buying a pet of some kind.” Mrs. Lucado said. "You know..., to keep me company around the house. I’m just not able to clean up after a dog and I’m allergic to cats. Do you have any suggestions, Honey?” Mrs. Lucado asked.
Margie shrugged her shoulders and said, “How about a fish?”

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