15 Stories #14 Father Corbett

15 Stories to Celebrate 15 Years…..

#14. Father Corbett

Father Michael Corbett was the parish priest at St. Joseph’s in Gilesgate for the first 3 years of the Practice being open. The church is just next to our Practice.

I have great respect for what he did in the Parish and he helped me a great deal when I opened the Practice. I have always thought of us as a community Opticians and no one defined that community, and that sense of vocation, than Fr. Corbett.

I am not really sure how a priest’s wage it worked out, but I knew that Fr. Corbett didn’t particularly have a lot of money.

I considered him a friend and so, being an Optician, I naturally would like my friends to have the best glasses possible. I also knew that Fr. Corbett couldn’t afford the best glasses so I wanted to make sure he didn’t pay the full price for his glasses he picked. He of course objected to this and was insistent that he paid full price.

Which meant that I had to lie to him about how much his glasses cost.

When he bought glasses I always told him little white lies as to what his glasses actually cost. There was always a little argument with me trying to give him a discount and him trying to pay the full cost.

At one point I managed to get him some Lindberg frames without him knowing that they are the most expensive frames we stock. (Lindberg frames are hand-made in Denmark. They are custom made and some of them have the option of engraving your initials on the side. Fr. Corbett engraved his “shalom.”)

In 2005 he accepted the job of hospital chaplain and moved to St. Andrews in Newcastle. He still came back for his eye tests and for his glasses. Then in 2014 he was tragically diagnosed with terminal cancer.

When he was in the last stages of cancer he phoned me because he had broken his glasses. He was dying, and very weak, he couldn’t leave the house.

We made him a pair of glasses and delivered them. I wouldn’t accept any money from him. The man was a friend and an inspiration to me. There was no way I was going to let him pay. He tried to argue with me, but I thought maybe the cancer had weakened him. He gave in and accepted the glasses.

After all those years I’d finally managed to get him to accept a free pair of glasses. I had won.

Or so I thought.

6 months after he died I got a letter from his solicitor. He had left me £200 in his will. I don’t know for certain what his thoughts were, but I think he meant to pay for his last pair of glasses.