Denise Day Spencer

February 13, 2006

Let there be light!

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 1:01 am

Living with someone who’s almost blind can be a challenge. Grandma is always commenting on how dark it is, both inside and out. She seems to think that if it’s dark to her it’s dark to us all. We keep trying to explain that she has macular degeneration–and we don’t! Be that as it may…

Grandma recently decided we needed more light in the house. Lots more. Several of our light fixtures had room for two or even three bulbs, but we’d just had one bulb in place. Not convinced that more bulbs would really make a difference for someone in her condition, we nevertheless agreed to try. Easier said than done.

You see, our kitchen fixtures are difficult to work with, to say the least. The one that hangs down over the table needs to changed by three people: one to hold the highly breakable globe-type-thingy, one to change the bulb, and one to offer moral support. (It sounds like a joke: How many Spencers does it take to change a light bulb?)

The ceiling fixture in the other end of the kitchen is even worse. I can’t reach it unless I stand on about four big books stacked in a chair. I used to do that, but we now have a new school safety director. If he peeped in the window while I was teetering precariously atop a collection of Bible commentaries, I’d be in trouble for sure. Even Michael and Clay can barely reach the light when they stand in a chair. But this was a quest to keep his mom happy, so Michael had to try.

This fixture is not only high, it’s also very difficult to work with. You have to pull it down on both sides, and it doesn’t want to come down. Even when you do that, you can hardly reach the bulb to change it. By the time you get it changed your legs are aching, your arms are spasming and you’re muttering expletives galore. But Michael–at last–succeeded. (I won’t say which expletives he used.)

Alas. He went to all that trouble only to discover that just one of the three sockets in the fixture from hell actually works. Oh, well. At least we got three bright, fully functional bulbs in the hang-down light over the kitchen table. Did I say “bright?” Change that to “very bright.” Clay entered the room later that night, hit the switch, and instinctively threw his arms up over his face to protect his eyes. “Aah!” he yelled. “The light! It hurts!” Michael suggested we write to NASA to see if they could loan us some helmets with built-in sun shields.

We knew meals would be quite an experience. Michael imagined it would be rather like dining in a tanning bed. The next morning, I came around the corner to see Clay solemnly munching his toast with sunglasses on.

Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for. Grandma came into the kitchen to get her breakfast. We were anxious to see how much of a difference the new lighting made in her daily life. She sat down at the table without comment. “Mom,” Michael ventured. “Does the brighter light help you see better?” I held my breath. There was a pause. Then, “Well, not really.”

When I told Clay that the extra bulbs had no effect, he exclaimed, “Then take them back out!” No way, Jose. We’re not going to that much trouble again until we absolutely have to. Besides, the Bible says “…Quench not the light of Israel.” (2 Samuel 21:17) So here we sit, our kitchen shining forth as a blazing beacon of our faith in God and Thomas Edison.

Maybe that’s not exactly what “the men of David” had in mind, but it sure beats changing those bulbs again.



  1. Just read this post out loud to my wife. We loved it.

    Comment by David Wright — February 13, 2006 @ 4:45 am | Reply

  2. Thanks, Denise. I’ll be watching to see when Kentucky gets brighter on the light polution map (

    Comment by Jim Nicholson — February 13, 2006 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

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