Essay · Memoir

Vision Corrections

My stepmother informed me by email that my father was in critical condition after a fall occasioned by a stroke. He is in his eighties. Sorrow did not overtake me. This is not a Hallmark card.

The week prior to his fall, my father had called me in the middle of the night to hurl raging insults at me. Seriously. Barely hello. I was a monster, evil, the worst piece of this and that, etc., spiked up in hateful expletives — in French.

He doesn’t do that often, not even once a year. The problem was that, on that first night of October 2022 when my cell rang, I felt utterly defenseless. I had been sound asleep, farther into safety than the Atlantic Ocean and the entire North American continent. A daughter made
new by exile. In that state, I had no need for psychological defenses.

Before I could even think of hanging up on him, he had done much damage.

Much like a dictator does, or a recent US president.

Within minutes, my left eye was in pain. I experienced sudden vision loss like when I was four. Or six. I couldn’t remember exactly. I told my optometrist, who told me that the link between trauma and vision was now well-established and who explained that the sight difference between my left and right eyes was now so large that my brain had difficulty balancing the two extremes.

I did not expect that my father would still have the power to damage my body. I pondered what I had written in my essay, Revenge Savings. I decided enough was enough and booked a flight from Los Angeles to Bordeaux.

When I arrived, my father was up and walking about. His wife lifted his shirt to show me that his back was still purplish-black from the fall. I told him that I was losing my vision in my left eye, just like when he was going to make me love me since my mother would not when I was four, or six, no five, maybe, at the time when he and his new wife were getting engaged.

No end-of-life apologies for me but I did not back down. I went for the metaphorical kill. I even managed to, in real-time, point out his reactions. Reactions that “perpetrators of wrongdoing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior,” Reactions which can be summed up as Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.

On the day of my departure, I stopped by his house one last time. My father refused to come out of his bedroom. His enabling wife said that he wasn’t feeling well. She would not allow me into his room out of concern for his health.

Cowardice!

The vision loss in my left has now stabilized. I do hope that this healing sticks.

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