The following is a talk I gave at the Health Talents International Breakfast, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN on 7/2/10.
Thank you for your introduction, Marie.
I’m a little of a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to direct involvement with Health Talents International, but it’s certainly been on my radar for many years. We came to know Marie and Carl Agee through Cahaba Valley Church of Christ during my student days at the UAB School of Optometry in the late 80s. We were a mac & cheese, beans & weenies poor student family back then, especially after Sandy retired from being a full time CPA to take care of our newborn son.… Read the rest
I don’t always speak Spanish, but when I do, I prefer having Jose Rafael Rodriguez (aka, my translator “Danny”) somewhere in the immediate vicinity. I am neither the most interesting man in the world, nor the most bilingual.
I tried to memorize enough Spanish eye care phrases to get by on my recent trip to Guatemala, but despite my best efforts and intentions, I found myself leaning hard on Danny. I would usually start out the day doing a passable job-abre sus ojos (“open your eyes”), mira arriba (“look up”) –but as things got hot and busier and I became increasingly fatigued, I started to mangle my rote phrases more and more.… Read the rest
“What do you want me to do for you,” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
–Mark 10: 51
Like Blind Bartimaeus, all Marta wanted was to be able to see. She was no whiny yuppie who would be satisfied with nothing less than 20/20 post-LASIK. She just wanted good enough.
Good enough to see the faces of her family, especially the grandchildren. Good enough to take in the vibrant green of the Guatemalan countryside and the eye-catching reds, blues, oranges and yellows of the local marketplace where her friends would gather to sell their handcrafted wares.… Read the rest
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I once had a war hero sitting in my exam chair who had survived all manner of jungle ambushes but was dying from an inoperable brain tumor.… Read the rest
My earliest memory is of waking up around 3:00 AM demanding my bottle. My mother, desperate for sleep, stumbled into my room, leaned over the edge of the crib with half-closed eyes staring down at me, and handed me one.
It was full of Coke, not milk. I grabbed the bottle and eagerly started to suck its sugary teat. Minutes later, I was back to sleep, and so was she.
I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t read about that little trick anywhere in Dr. Spock. She was “winging it,” as they say. What would I want if I awoke crying at 3:00 AM?… Read the rest
(This is Part 2 of a series on our recent trip to Clinica Ezell in Montellano, Guatemala. Part 1 can be found here. The following are remarks that I delivered to the HTI Eye/Ortho Team on March 17, 2010 during evening devotional).
First off, thank you Cameron for having my back tonight. He loaned me his Bible after I forgot mine. I didn’t want to stand up here and scroll through my Bible app on my iPhone–I thought that would look, uh, “unprofessional” (pointing to my Bama ball cap and scrubs).
I just want to clear up one more thing before I get started.… Read the rest
You don’t travel into the Valley of the Shadow with someone and then back out again without being changed forever. The Reaper’s sickle passes so close to your own skin that you feel its wind. It cuts, and if you’re standing near enough, you bleed.… Read the rest
I literally groaned when my clerk handed me the plastic reference card to place on my houndstooth lanyard. If you work for the government or a large corporation, you know what I’m talking about.
Those lovely little laminated jewels have all the answers to every conceivable scenario or crisis. Surrounded by a 10-foot wall of flames? No problem. Just remember–“R-A-C-E” (Remove, Activate, Confine, Extinguish) and “P-A-S-S” (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep).
Of course, by the time you fumble through them, find the right one and read it, the point is moot because now you’re soot.
“Don’t worry,” he said as he watched me reach around and rub my neck in anticipation of the extra weight. … Read the rest
I had a Close Encounter of the Creepy Kind with my iPhone this week. This has caused me to pause and reflect on our relationship with all our bright and shiny electronic doodads.
It happened last Sunday as Eyegal and I attended early service at a local Episcopal parish, as is our habit from time to time. It was the First Sunday in Lent (Note to my Baptist and Church of Christ friends: Lent is a 40-day period of repentance preceding Easter. It is part of the church calendar, which is actually pretty official and has been around a long, long time–like, several centuries before the founding of the United States–and has more on it besides the date of the Ladies Retreat and the next church-wide potluck.… Read the rest
Number One Son and I had just been discussing what could possibly be on the palms of Alabama’s new Nike Pro Combat player gloves, and it didn’t take us long to find out.
We knew that the Crimson Tide was among several teams that would be receiving the new gear, which featured a particular avatar representing the “spirit” of each team, but Bama’s was missing from Nike’s preview website.
But when Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Mark Ingram scored his first touchdown in the BCS Title Game against Texas, he flashed the new gloves toward the camera for all the world to see.… Read the rest
If I had a shred of innocence left in me by the summer of 1968, it was all gone by the time Mom gave me “The Talk.” No, not that talk. The one about Santa Claus.
Martin Luther King, Jr was gone and now Bobby Kennedy was dead too, and the world seem to be spinning out of control. I watched Memphis burn on TV and remember seeing the thousands of grieving onlookers who lined the tracks and payed their respects as Kennedy’s funeral train traveled from New York City to Washington, D.C. I was a mere preschooler, but it didn’t take some preternatural sixth sense to tell that most folks thought the world was going to hell in a handbasket.… Read the rest
When I finally worked up the nerve to hand “Hank” some cash, he drew back as if I was coming at him with a knife. This startled me, and for a moment I wondered what kind of fix my attempted charity had gotten me into. Would he lunge back at me in self defense? Or would he start to channel the cacophony of voices inside his head and yell profanities at me instead? I braced myself for just about anything. I suddenly wished I had just left well enough alone and dropped off the money at the checkout counter, just like everyone else did.… Read the rest
Forty-eight years ago today, I made my debut at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. My arms may be too short and my back a little stiffer these days, but that building was torn down in the late 70s to make room for a new medical office complex, and I’m still standing. So I guess that’s saying something.
There was a time earlier this year when I wasn’t sure I would be by now, though. You see, I became quite obsessed with the idea of whether or not I was going to make it past 47 years, 118 days because that’s exactly how long Dad lived.… Read the rest
I don’t always do eye exams on Catholic priests, but when I do, I prefer to be blessed.
And that’s exactly what happened yesterday when I examined an honest-to-God padre, Father C. I’ve examined my share of Baptist preachers and various charismatic sorts, even a couple of Episcopalian rectors, but as far as I can remember Father C. was my first Vatican-verified vicar. He was Irish too, which was simply gravy on the potatoes.
He was the second patient in as many days to created a stir in the waiting room. The first one was the man with the Crimson Tide elephant hat, complete with long, gray trunk, who came in Monday still high on the fumes of Mt.… Read the rest