I watched the blind man as he crossed the busy street to the bus shelter. He was carrying his young daughter in his left arm and his white cane in the other. His young son ran haphazardly ahead of them, giggling and laughing all the way. I was struck by the man’s grace; his ease with that potentially daunting situation. His every move seemed effortless although I’m sure the opposite was true. He retrieved his wandering son, and on a wooden bench father and daughter sat while son was busy flailing to the sky.
The young girl sat there and asked her dad questions like “what do elephants eat”, and “how do the trolley busses work”. Dad responded authoritatively as all dads are required to do; even if they don’t know the answer. Dads are supposed to know a little about everything, after all. His son was busy spinning in his snowsuit, doing the looking-up-to-the-sky-while-turning-as-fast-as-you-can thing. After a few moments, the young boy finally stumbled and toppled to the sidewalk. Dad got up and fumbled toward his son, but the boy recovered quickly and said “Don’t worry Dad, I’m fine.” Dad warned the boy to be careful, then sat down and continued to hold court with is daughter.
Dad heard a bus pull up and asked the boy what number it was. “Five!” shouted the kid. Dad jumped up with a “lets go” and the three of them were off, the girl in Dad’s arms and the boy trailing behind. “Hurry son, catch us the bus.” Young son ran up ahead with all his little might, his snowsuit swishing in the thinning day light. He kept the Number Five on the curb until Dad and daughter made it to the door. He helped his sister onto the bus as Dad climbed aboard. It was refreshing to watch a family working together to complete a basic task – going somewhere.
Had the man been blind his whole life? Did he truly know how much his children looked like him or their mother? Perhaps he knew them more intimately than other parents know their children. Perhaps he picked up every nuance in the cadence of their young throats. Perhaps he knew every lump and furrow of their heads by touch. Maybe he secretly painted their faces behind his eyes – a vision for him and him only. Maybe, on a night whipped mad with winter’s wild kiss, he and his wife tucked in the kids and afterwards he asked her to describe their babies in all the detail she could muster. Maybe he smiled when she said that they look like their mother. Perhaps the chasm caused by his blindness created a better vista from which to view his family and the world. Perhaps he saw more clearly than I ever will.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?