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Column: Seeing clearly the signs of age

In all of my 43-year-old wisdom, there is one very hard and real fact I've learned to accept: sometimes, you just gotta suck it up.

For a few years already, I've wondered about this cruel game Mother Nature and Father Time have played with my complexion. It's not fair to have wrinkles and pimples at the same time. One or the other. That way I can find the appropriate lotion or potion to combat the signs of age.

I suffer from what I call Peter Pan Syndrome. I know I have to get older, but I certainly don't want to grow up. But it gets a little overwhelming when all of these signs of aging start piling up.

My latest admission came two weeks ago, and it was reinforced last Monday afternoon. One nice Saturday, The Beau and I went to the Mall of America. I had Christmas shopping to do, and I'd timed the trip to coincide with an eye exam.

It's nice to have someone who knows your history, regardless of what type of physician you're seeing. I'd seen this particular eye doctor for years when he was in Apple Valley, but when that site closed, I went to Burnsville instead. He wasn't there. But I found him this time around, at MOA.

He remembered me, too. Remembered that I work at a newspaper, that I write and read pretty much all day, every day. He knew my lifestyle, he had my records. It was all good, until he started the exam.

By the time he was done, he showed me what my current prescription was - and that was fine. Until he told me that was my long-distance vision. Then he asked me to read some teeny-tiny print close up. It was nothing but a blur.

You guessed it. It was time, he said, for me to consider bifocals.

Bifocals. Really?

I picked some out. I ordered contacts with two different strengths - one to accommodate my near-sighted vision, the other to accommodate my far-sighted vision. Apparently, they're just supposed to even each other out when I wear them. I have to get cheater specs, too.

I sucked it up. I've worn glasses since I was 4 years old, and corrective lenses have more or less always been a factor in my life. Besides, he told me it would be a bigger adjustment in two years if I didn't go for it now. So what the heck.

This brings us to last Monday, when I went to Farmington High School to take pictures of the Toys for Town pep fest. I used a camera from the office that I don't normally use. It takes in more light in the gymnasium. This is good.

Turns out, though, that the display in the viewfinder is the same teeny-tiny type that had been a blur in the eye doctor's office. I couldn't look through the viewfinder and see clearly, regardless of what lens was on the camera. I couldn't tell what my settings were. I just set the camera on autofocus, pointed it in the general direction, and hoped for the best. I could see the activity in front of me just fine -- after all, my prescription was good for long-distance. It was the close-up stuff that was a problem.

That night, I went back to the Mall of America. My new lenses were in, both the glasses and the contacts. Once my fitting was done, I was out the door in my new bifocals. And when I looked through that camera's viewfinder the next day, I could see everything just fine.

Not to say that I'm going down the aging road easily, mind you. My new no-line bifocals are a saucy red color, and I'm secretly psyched to be able to pick out more saucy -- cheaper -- frames for my cheaters.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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