Adventure Day Four


It wasn’t forceps at birth, the unfortunate placement responsible for virtually no vision in one eye – never knowing anything else, she managed just fine. A “good eye” was more than enough – published writer, poet, artist, teacher – she saw more with that eye than most people absorb in a lifetime. Her vision allowed others to see – she used language to evoke wonder, transforming everyday ordinary into extraordinary. Infectious, she enveloped people lucky enough to glimpse the world through her good eye.

She lacked depth perception – no big deal. Never an issue, nobody expected her to drive at night – we couldn’t truly fathom her difficulty. None of us saw the demise of “good eye”. In hindsight, I’m certain she  fought with stoic denial for years. None of us took it seriously – the car accident, followed by a immediately revoked driver’s license got our attention. It seems “good eye” had developed holes – Cone Dystrophy to be precise. Degenerative, irreversible, incurable – imagine having only one good eye, ponder losing that eye to growing holes across your field of vision. My mother is legally blind.

I can’t give sight, criticize depression, shrug off bouts of despair or begin to comprehend her increasingly dim reality. That said, I refuse to coddle or patronize – as long as she’s able to stand on her own two feet, I’ll give her light. Adventure day four delivered.

If a more spectacular late December day transpired, I must have been out of town. Weather reports promised sunny and cold, we weren’t advised of perfection. Boarding the 9:30 AM ferry to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, we catapulted into the realm of fairytale light.

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Mom at Ruby Lake

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Adventure day four deserves more than a few pictures on my phone. Like taking a picture of the Grand Canyon – it simply doesn’t work, you have to be there. The truth is – it doesn’t matter. Light cast a spell, it’s part of me now. Light’s greatest gift went to my mother – light allowed her to see long shadows, exquisite hues and reflections. Even if only in her mind’s eye, it’s part of her now.

 

The Power of One Chance “Like”


I have always believed that things happen for a reason, and not to discount anything that crosses my path. This isn’t based on so much as a whisper in God, religion, divine intervention, or the will of any sentient almighty. To be honest; if any of those things clouded or narrowed my open mind, I’m fairly certain these “chances” would evaporate behind a cloud of blind faith. I spend my life pondering wonders, gazing into the night sky, listening to the wind, sharing ideas, learning from others, and every so often stumbling upon a moment that changes the direction of my life. Since starting this blog, wordpress has introduced me to remarkably intelligent people; people who may hold different views than mine, people I look forward to reading, discussing, and sharing thoughts with. I approach it as I approach my life – with an open mind and heart.

A few days ago, a chance “like” on one of my posts by wordpresser – http://buffalotompeabodyblog.wordpress.com/ changed lives. As soon as I read “buffalotompeabody” something told me my path had just been crossed. Obviously anyone called buffalotompeabody plastered an instant smile on my face; there was more – my “lucky feeling” as it has come to be known in my household, had goosebumps erupting on my arms, and every hair on the back of my neck standing at attention.

I couldn’t get to his “About” page fast enough. I read eagerly, and suddenly – there it was – this man is blind. Hardly able to contain myself while hoping this person would understand; I asked for his help. My mother is blind; it’s been at least 10 years since she could read any print.The CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) sends her spoken DVD’s of books and magazines, has given her a white cane, free bus pass, sold her a $700 computer program, and she was considering dropping $3000 on some sort of screen magnifier device. We knew in our hearts it would be about as much help as the “Zoom text” program – in other words, beyond something she could practically use the way she wanted. As buffalotompeabody put it “having first to wrestle an elephant to the floor takes the fun out of it”. I’m getting ahead of myself.

buffalotompeabody responded within a few hours, answering my burning question – how was he able to do something that’s eluded my mother for years? Still unable to grasp how he could reply at length; a task that my mother couldn’t do if her life depended on it,I read on. His answer blew me away; enter the Android phone. It seems Google has a soft spot for low vision and blind people. Most of their Android phones come with TTS (talk to speech) programs pre installed, and simply need to be enabled. He explained about low vision apps, the feature Androids have of allowing text to be made huge, and youtube videos showing how to use different apps. He told me he hadn’t opened his lap top in a year and a half.

I was like a kid on Christmas morning as I called my mother with the news. The excitement and hope I heard in her voice reminded me of who she was before blindness crippled her with depression. She believed, actually believed she might once again use her voice, and mind to connect with the world. She didn’t say so but I knew she dared to embrace the possibility of writing again. I copied and emailed buffalotompeabody’s comments to my sister who lives in the same city as my mother. That was yesterday. By this afternoon they had gone to a cell phone store; with copied emails in hand the clerk had her a phone meeting all the requirements, enabled the TTS, and set the everything to “huge”. Tomorrow they will download apps, and I expect by the weekend I’ll be getting emails from her.

In all our visits to the CNIB, eye specialists, and computer geeks; not once has this simple solution been suggested. We’ve watched helplessly as she slipped further into despair; then a single chance “like” turns all our lives around. Better still it’s poised to change even more lives. While telling this story to a friend today I learned she knew of someone in a similar situation. Again I forwarded buffalotompeabody’s comments, setting another life changing moment in motion.

Thank you buffalotompeabody for crossing my path – your fortitude and patience inspire me beyond words. In 24 short hours you’ve managed to accomplish something we’d nearly given up on. You set something so powerful in motion, our world will forever be changed.

For anyone who knows someone this might help – go to buffalotompeabody’s “About” page and read the comments he sent me.

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