Maureen Muskett – It’s Alright

I lost my eye as a child in the bombing of London in 1940. I woke up in a cot with my hands tied to the rails. As a result of this experience I had an incredible fear of the bomb sirens and feeling restricted in any way.

I did play up as a child. I didn’t wear the eye to school so I could be sent home.

The teachers wouldn’t teach me to read until Year Two, as they were worried about eyestrain. It was only when my younger sister started to read that I protested and insisted on being taught. My younger sister was very protective of me during those school years and still is.

I didn’t meet anyone else with an artificial eye until I was an adult. I was very honest with people when I met them. If I noticed that people were studying the eye I just told them. “That is my war wound”. It was never an issue after that.

I didn’t need glasses until I was forty-something. I had to strain to read the bus numbers. My husband had to pick me up from some obscure places a couple of times. I ended up at Takapuna on the north shore of Auckland three times. Finally he suggested I should have an eye test. I was very upset when I found out I needed glasses.

My father was diagnosed with cancer behind the eye when he was 57. He was very upset when he found out he was going to lose his eye. He went through a bad depression for one year. He was on the other side of the world and didn’t have a phone. There were long letters sent and my advice to him was, don’t worry!

He used to hide behind dark glasses. It took him about three years until he would leave the dark glasses off. It was pretty funny – someone wearing dark glasses in the winter in England. We were very different in this respect – I was more upset about having to wear glasses than having to wear a glass eye.

Toward the end of his life, when he had six weeks to live, I went home to see my father. By then he was used to the glass eye and he found it hilarious that we both had artificial eyes. We could laugh about it then. I told him, “See, I told you it was alright!”

As told to Julia Sutton. Reprinted with permission from Maureen Muskett. You may link to this story, but please do not copy or otherwise circulate.