When I was really little, I would claim that the “rainbow” was my favorite color. I couldn’t imagine the world without each and every color in it. I would go on and on about how pretty and different each and every one was, probably to the point it got annoying for my parents. Especially my dad.
I didn’t find out until I was nine or ten that my dad was colorblind. We’d been going through my old books and one of them was about colors.
“Dad, what’s your favorite color?” I’d asked.
“Hm,” he’d hummed, pretending to think it over. “Probably grey.”
I’d wrinkled my nose. “Why? Grey is so boring. Why not something more pretty? You wear lots of green, why not that one?”
“Do I?” he’d asked, sounding so surprised it surprised me. He’d looked down at his shirt and hummed again. “Is that what color I have on now?”
“You don’t know?”
“Ah.” Sighing a little, he had smiled down at me. “For some reason I was thinking I’d talked to you about this already. I’m colorblind, sweetie. I can only see in a few colors.”
We’d talked about it for what felt like hours. Grey was a soft, safe neutral, not overly vibrant but, to him, not too dull. He said he mostly saw yellows, blues, browns and greys–“deuteranopia,” he’d said the doctors had called it. Which meant nothing to me at the time, but only being able to see a handful of different colors meant everything.
It had blown my mind. The more I thought about it the more I felt that my dad had been cheated, somehow. Not able to see colors? What kind of insanity was that? How was it fair that I could see such beautiful things and my dad simply had to sit by and nod along with my excitement, not really getting to personally enjoy it?
I thought about it for weeks, months, slowly rolling into years. It wouldn’t leave me, and I felt that I couldn’t let the matter sit and have nothing done about it.
So when I was seventeen and, during a family reunion, my grandma leaned over and asked if I knew what I wanted to go to school for, if I had a dream job yet, I could easily answer. I’d known for years, nearly since that conversation with my dad so long ago, what I’d wanted to dedicate myself to.
“I want to be a doctor, actually. Or something involving medical science.”
The family sitting closest to us, my dad included, turned and listened in.
“That’s lovely, dear,” my grandma replied, smiling with pride. “Do you know what you want to practice?”
“Eyes, specifically. I definitely want to get into researching and maybe finding a cure for diseases and anomalies of the eyes.” I paused, and deliberately glanced at my dad across the table. He looked surprised. Understandable–up until this point, when my parents asked what I wanted to do, I’d just said ‘doctor’ as a standalone. I’d never given specifics.
“That sounds perfect for you,” Grandma said, a little twinkle in her eye. She surely knew what I was getting at by saying as much. As she should–it was her son that I wanted to learn it for.
Across from me, my dad had tears and pride of his own in his eyes.
As we were leaving the reunion later that night, my dad tapped my shoulder and pulled me back, letting my mom go ahead to the car.
He looked about ready to say something, then closed his mouth and just smiled at me. At a loss for words myself, I reached out and hugged him.
I couldn’t imagine my life without my dad. Nor could I imagine it without color. I wanted him to live in a world where his favorite color could be more than just a shade of grey.