2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 6 books toward her goal of 240 books.
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Excerpt: Hello Darkness My Old Friend by Sanford D. Greenberg

Today I’m beyond pleased to introduce you to a marvelous memoir, Hello Darkness, My Old Friend, the exceptionally insightful book by Sanford D. Greenberg. Featuring an introduction by Art Garfunkel, foreword by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and final word by Margaret Atwood, the book is a powerful telling of his life story – and how his blindness colored his experiences along the way… Subtitled “How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life”, the book offers the remarkable and inspiring story of a Columbia University undergraduate from a poor Jewish family who, after losing his eyesight to disease during his junior year, finds the power to break through the darkness and fulfill his vision for a life of great professional success and distinguished public service. Enjoy!

About the Book
It’s a bitterly cold February in 1961. Sandy Greenberg lies in a hospital bed in Detroit, newly blind. A junior at Columbia University from a Jewish family that struggled to stay above the poverty line, Sandy had just started to see the world open up to him. Now, instead of his plans for a bright future—Harvard Law and politics—Sandy faces a new reality, one defined by a cane or companion dog, menial work, and a cautious path through life.

But that’s not how this story ends.

In the depth of his new darkness, Sandy faces a choice—play it “safe” by staying in his native Buffalo or return to Columbia University to pursue his dreams. With the loving devotion of his girlfriend (and now wife) Sue and the selflessness of best friends Art Garfunkel and Jerry Speyer, Sandy endures unimaginable adversity while forging a life of exceptional achievement.

From his time in the White House working for President Lyndon B. Johnson to his graduate studies at Harvard and Oxford Universities under luminaries such as Archibald Cox, Sir Arthur Goodhart, and Samuel Huntington, and through the guidance of his invaluable mentor David Rockefeller, Sandy fills his life and the lives of those around him with a radiant light of philanthropy, entrepreneurship, art, and innovation.

Excerpt
From Chapter 7 of HELLO DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND by Sanford D. Greenberg

Certain dates in one’s life are never forgotten. One for me is Monday, February 13, 1961—the day of the scheduled appointment with Dr. Sugar in Detroit.

My mother and I took the train from Buffalo to Detroit, checked into the Detroit Statler Hotel, then went directly to Dr. Sugar’s office. It was late in the afternoon. The doctor’s other patients had left, and we were ushered into his office immediately.

The venetian blinds were open, the sun of a cold winter day streaming in. Dr. Sugar measured my eye pressure using what he explained was an electronic tonograph machine. When he discovered that the pressure in my eyes was so high that it could not even register precisely on the machine, he was outraged. “Why did they wait so long?” he shouted. “Why did they wait so long?”

It did not occur to me until later to think about who the “they” were and what it was “they” waited so long to do. Because I couldn’t see, I could not read my mother’s face. But I can imagine her expression was just as confused as mine.

Dr. Sugar then guided me from the examination table to a small, round metal stool. My mother sat in a wooden chair to my right while Dr. Sugar stood above me and put his ophthalmoscope to my eyes. His brow was touching my brow. This man had the hairiest, bushiest eyebrows I’d ever seen. Though, of course, I could only feel them. And then he pulled away—I could feel him do this, like a ripping apart. Very slowly he stood upright, paused for a moment, and said flatly, not in the direction of my mother or me in particular, maybe just to himself: “Well, son, you are going to be blind tomorrow.”

It was a strange thing to hear someone say. Strange that he used the old-fashioned colloquialism “son,” and without really directing the remark to me. But oddest of all was to hear a person say, in all seriousness, that someone is simply going to be blind. He did not explain how this person was going to be blind, just that he was. And maybe odder still was that the person—the “son”—was me.

About the Author
Sanford D. Greenberg is Chairman of the Board of Governors of Johns Hopkins University’s Wilmer Eye Institute, the largest clinical and research enterprise in ophthalmology in the United States. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In 2012, Greenberg launched End Blindness 2020—a campaign and prize of $3 million to be granted to the person or group who makes the greatest stride in ending the scourge of blindness.

Additional Resources

For more information, visit the book website at https://www.hellodarkness-book.com/.

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2 comments to Excerpt: Hello Darkness My Old Friend by Sanford D. Greenberg

  • Sheila Silverman Taube

    So proud of the boy from Buffalo who was President of my senior high school class. Everyone knew he was destined for great things. Even in high school Sue was his girl. Bless them both.

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