Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 06 27 Journal Excerpt Page 41 June 27, 2017

 

Isn’t it good when things go according to plan? Isn’t it great when you don’t have to worry about the unforeseen snags that can sometimes occur? Isn’t it marvelous when you turn, look back and think to yourself, “How the hell did I manage to get through that?”

 

Oh how life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and my oh my how fast it can happen.

 

Take a step, or two, and dare to brave the new world. Sound a little frightening? Ok then, how about just trying to brave the new day then.

 

Deal?

 

dp***

 

***

 

Time described: Summer, Fall 2011

Page 41

 

As fall continued to move on through, my mobility lessons continued on as well. Rosemary and I had the opportunity earlier that summer to work with Waterville’s new talking pedestrian crossing assistance program things. Grin Rosemary almost cried when she found out they were planning on installing the new poles at each lighted intersection throughout the city. She had been after the city to upgrade their pedestrian crossing signals for some time, and from what she and I had encountered on our lessons around the city, a lot of the current systems were very poor, some to the point of not working at all. I remember the intersection of Elm, Park and Appleton where the library is. The signal didn’t work very well. In fact, it was quite dangerous for pedestrians, let alone someone who couldn’t see. When the walk sign was lit, the traffic light stayed green, so the normal crossing opportunities conflicted with the traffic. Talk about taking your life in your own hands! Sheesh!

 

Rosemary and I spent a ton of time on that intersection, and when the signals were synched properly, I learned how to hold my breath while crossing. So much of what I learned had to do with trusting that I was visible to drivers. Now I’m fully aware that I’m a big dude, but cars tend to be quite a bit bigger, so when we’re talking about a one on one conflict, well, need I say more?

 

Learning the proper crossing techniques with normal intersections depends on quite a few things. Not all intersections run the same as far as the light patterns. We spent a few lessons just standing at each corner and studying the patterns, one corner at a time, and believe me, there is a lot to learn from a simple 4 way intersection. With Rosemary’s help, I learned the patterns and applied the skills for a few more lessons. This was a couple months prior to the start of updating the city systems, and by the time I had learned just that one intersection, we moved on to another one.

 

Waterville has roughly 25 or so lighted intersections, and virtually every one is different. Those lessons with Rosemary were long, grueling and exhausting. By the time I arrived back home, I was mentally fried. I usually had a hard time falling asleep because of visions of busy intersections dancing through my head.

 

One lesson while we were heading down Main Street, we came across a road crew working on the intersection of Temple, Main and the Concourse entrance. After going back and forth through the intersection a couple times, Sarge asked the crew what they were working on. When they told her they were installing new audible pedestrian crossing systems, Rosemary hollered out loud. It scared me a little, as I couldn’t really hear their conversation very well because of the road noise. She grabbed me and pulled me off to the side, and as she told me the news, I could hear the excitement in her voice.

 

That intersection was one of the first installments done in the city. These systems weren’t like other systems I had worked with , for instance, down in Newton Mass. Their systems were chirping sounds that signified when crossing by pedestrians was safe. The Waterville systems were talking systems that told you in a synthesized voice when, and which streets were safe to cross. They also had beeping indicators so that you could find the poles and push the buttons to start the crossing pattern. Another really cool feature that impressed me even more was when you walked up to the pole and hit it with your cane, the volume level of the beeping, and of the voice assistant increased. It was also designed to increase automatically with increased road noise, such as trucks and other loud vehicles, so that you could continue to hear the signals. Pretty cool innovations if you ask me. Waterville was the first city in the state to have these new systems, and I was probably the first blind person to use them, or one of the first.

 

Within a few months, all of the lighted intersections of Waterville were set up with the new system, and the fun was just starting, from my perspective anyway.

 

With new technology, come new opportunities, and new issues. With any changes, mobility also changes, and a new way to do things needs to be taught, learned and implemented. That particular intersection that saw the first new system provided for some unique challenges. On the intersection’s south west corner, the pole that controlled the Main Street crossing was placed roughly fifteen feet from the actual start of the crossing. These signals were set up to announce when the walk light was lit, so when you heard, “Main Street walk signal is lit. It is now safe to cross”, the smart move would be to start sweeping your cane and head across. There was one problem though. As I said, the pole was quite a distance from the start of the cross walk, and there was also a time indicator that counted down to let you know how much time you had before the walk time ended. Of course, this count down indicator on the pole had no audible indicator associated with it, so Rosemary was the only indicator mechanism that told me how much time I had left. By the time I reached the cross walk and got half way across the street, the time was up, and the traffic began to flow again.

 

Not a good scenario!

 

I couldn’t move closer to the start of the crossing after I pushed the button on the pole because I couldn’t hear the voice announcing unless I was standing right beside the pole. The volume increasing didn’t seem to raise the voice levels sufficient enough to be heard more than a few feet from the pole.

 

Are you confused? So was I.

 

Well, we both decided that this scenario sucked out loud, and Sarge told me that it was up to me to fix it. I ended up contacting one of the Public works managers and told him about our dilemma. He agreed to meet us at the intersection on my next lesson, which he did.

 

That day I felt like the problem might be addressed, but it would probably take a few weeks to iron out. The manager met us at the street corner that next lesson, and while Rosemary and I were describing the problem, he hopped on his phone, called a number, opened the control panel on the box’s box, punched a few codes into the small keypad inside the box and extended the time allowed to cross the intersection by fifteen seconds.

 

Problem solved in less than five minutes.

 

Oh how I love modern technology, especially when it works well.

 

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

2017 06 26 Journal Excerpt Page 40 June 26, 2017

 

Some days I don’t feel much like writing. Other days, it feels like I didn’t write enough, or I didn’t write about the right thing, or I strayed to the left when I should have veered to the right. Through all of my time spent writing, I have built up quite an assorted array of essays, stories, poems, and a ton of other things that I don’t really know what to call. Through my fingertips a new world has arrived, and as I have read back through this journal, I’m glad I was chosen to create the text.

 

In a word, thanks.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 40

Fall 2011

 

During the month of October, I had the chance to attend my first white cane and guide dog walk of independence in Augusta. My wife, son and grandson Jack also came along, and again I had the chance to meet some people in the blind community of Central Maine. The day was perfect, with warm temps and sunshine flooding the streets of the capitol, and as the canes and paws made our way around the downtown area, I realized that when it came to mobility with my white cane, I wasn’t alone.

 

My retired VRC Leona McKenna was also in attendance, but she wasn’t able to go on the walk with us. She had just been through a rather difficult surgery procedure on one of her feet, but she was there 100 percent in heart and spirit.

 

I did get the chance to talk with another woman, Marge Awalt, and her husband Hugh. They had brought a door prize with them, a voice activated dog that reacted to an accompanying book being read. Did I describe that good enough for you to follow along? Anyway, it was a pretty cool door prize that Jack ended up winning.

 

I just talked with my friend Lynn Merril on the phone, and she remembers being there. By the way, I should remind you again that this page post differs from others, in that I am writing it right now, the 25th of June, 2017. I am gap solving with additional journal info that I never wrote about, until now.

 

Well, the fall was full of differences, as you can imagine, and that I never would imagine. A funny thing happened on the way to writing a short story for my Saturday online writer’s group. We were directed to write a short story for Halloween, and so I set off on a quest to do just that.

 

I didn’t end up writing a short story though.

 

Usually short stories consist of roughly ten pages or so. As I started writing my story, something inside me kicked into gear. I knew after a couple pages that this story wasn’t going to be a short story. Just the way the events started happening, and the way that the movie inside my head was playing, I knew it was more than a short story.

 

Well, Saturday came, and during the group meeting everyone started discussing their stories. During the week leading up to the meeting, members usually submitted their writing piece to the groups list serve, an email list only accessible by group members. This way, the writers had a chance to read the other writer’s submissions in preparations for the next meeting.

 

Anyway, the online meeting started, and the critiques started flowing. When the critique moved to my submission, I told the members that I tried to write a short story, but couldn’t find an ending to it, so I submitted it anyway.

 

Everyone seemed to like the 8 or nine page submission, which I had entitled, Chapter One. There was another writer in the group who decided not to write a short story, but instead continued with chapters of a lengthy story he was writing. Even though I felt a little awkward not being able to end the short story, I shrugged it off as a stepping stone for things to come.

 

And come they did.

 

During this time, my sessions with Mike Adams also continued. I was becoming more comfortable with using my computer, as well as web stuff, in particular, my blog. I had started the blog off with posts declaring my hate for cancer. I had named the blog “Surviving”, as a reminder that I was a cancer survivor, or as I like to say, a cancer conquerer. I hadn’t really thought that the name could mean so many different things, such as surviving blindness, mobility lessons, lawn mower repairs, one sock coming out of the dryer, and probably the worst thing of all, running out of chocolate. The word had so many possibilities, and with each possibility came a world of issues, of chances, of opportunities that could either set you on your ass, or pick you up and take you to the other side where the roses were handed to you in the winner’s circle.

 

Yes, the lessons with Mike proved to be very beneficial, as I had become very dependant on my computer. I communicated with people with it. I felt so comfortable with writing, and while doing so, I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering around my day. I did my maneuvering with the keypad and my fingers. The text that JAWS read to me became a world that I could control, and without the vision there were so many things that I was constantly coming in contact with that kept reminding me how much of my day was completely out of my control. I mean, how could anyone control what they couldn’t see? How is that possible?

 

So many times those slogans of AA came into play, Keep it simple stupid, Turn it Over, Let go, Let God, they all reminded me of the one true thing that I could always control, and that was me. Little old me.

 

Every once in a while I go back and read an old blog post. Often times I sit and laugh while reading, and I ask myself how I ever learned how to write the things I do, the way that I do. I’ve often said that my writing is sometimes like a ping pong ball bouncing all over the place. I just shrug it off, and consider that as long as all the words end up on the screen, then it’s all good. Most of the time, they do, but how the hell would I know? grin

 

And now, for those three little words,

 

To be continued…

 

2017 06 25 Journl Excerpt Page 39 June 25, 2017

Through our lives, there are things, circumstances, interactions that can change the course of our lives. Many things after 2010 did exactly that, and along with these happenstances, I have learned a great deal.

 

This next page describes one of those moments that changed my direction. It led me towards a body of people who not only inspired me, but who also taught me about a different kind of family, a different kind of commitment. As long as I continue to have them in my life, the inspiration will continue.

 

Have fun.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 39

Written June 2017, describing Late summer, fall 2011.

 

The summer months came and went. My interaction with the two writing groups really kicked into gear, and the word documents began to appear under my fingertips. I especially remember falling in love with writer prompts, which is when you are given a theme, a subject, a few lines of action, and from these prompts, well, it is amazing the different stories that unfolded onto the screen. I loved to write, and it was starting to show.

 

I hadn’t had any interaction with any blind folks, other than my first VRC Leona. The only visually impaired people I had met were the ones at the week long employment workshop back in the spring, and other than trying to stay in touch with them via email, they just sort of faded back into the worlds they had come from. I do still get emails from one of them, and am in touch with another one through ACB, but that’s been it. I didn’t know any blind people to speak of, and just kept poking along as usual.

 

The weeks kept piling up and fall was on the move. I had always loved the fall season, with the leaves changing and the air becoming brisk, especially in the mornings. Fall was always the busy time for me with my job. People were starting to gear up for winter driving, which meant they might need a new set of snow tires. Who you gonna call? Me, the tire biter extraordinaire! Grin

 

My wife gave me the name, “Tire Biter”, and in our house, it stuck like glue. She used to joke about me and my physical abilities. She would describe me as riding around the country side, reaching into the back of my truck while I was driving, and flinging the tires out to my customers as I drove by. She likened the experience to, “pinging” the tires. Yes, I was fairly strong statured, and physically agile from many years of heavy lifting, but each time she described my animated role, well, I’m chuckling now thinking about it.

 

I miss the fall months and being able to ride through central Maine as the scenery turned into pure magnificence. The routes up through Farmington, Sugarloaf, Rangely, down to the coast, through Knox County, it was utterly beautiful, and from 2006 through 2010 I did my best to capture it all on my first digital camera.

 

That fall saw me reminiscing back through the years as I flipped through my mental photo album. Endless mindful collages of people, family, pets, nature, smiles and birthdays and Christmases and reunions and especially those simplest things of all. I constantly reached in to pull out a handful of images from my past, for they were the only things I had that remotely resembled the present.

 

Yes, fall came, and with it, my introduction to the American Council of the Blind of Maine. I got a call one evening from a woman who was involved with the group, as well as the Clinton Lions Club. Mary Ellen Frost invited me to sit in on the ACB’s annual conference, which was being held in nearby Waterville. I accepted the invitation and agreed to sit in on the morning session.

 

Comparing my nervousness of the past when it had to do with things of this nature, I didn’t feel anxious or nervous leading up to the next morning. I suppose that having so many mobility lessons had built up my ability to go at new things head on, without those same internal emotions that used to really grab hold of me in the past. I had felt the complete gambit of emotions, many, many times, and this experience was no different than any of those that O&M brought on.

 

The next morning came, and Lynne and I made the short trek into Waterville. I didn’t know what to expect, and tried to approach this brand new opportunity with a wide open mind.

 

Mary Ellen met my wife and I in the motel lobby, and from there, she escorted me into the conference room. She sat me down at a table with Carson Wood, a long time ACB member. He didn’t seem very interested in striking up a conversation with me, and before I knew it, Mary Ellen grabbed me and led me to another table loaded up with women. Nervously, I sat down and was instantly surrounded with questions, comments and through all of their interaction, I felt like I was at a very welcoming social event.

 

As the morning session got underway, I was helped back to the table with Carson. I don’t think we uttered more than a few casual words to each other through the remainder of the morning, so I tried to focus on the speakers for the next couple hours.

 

One of the speakers, Brian Charlson, was the director of the Tech department at the Carroll Center. He was the one who interviewed me for possible selection into their office skills program, which I never got the chance to attend. Brian talked about assistive technology, and in particular, iPhones and iPads. I had heard his presentation back at the Carroll Center, and with a few additional bits of new information, he once again graced the room with his tech savvy abilities.

 

The morning went along, and through it all, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the information. The director of DBVI, John McMahon, was in attendance, and delivered his presentation in a well rehearsed fashion. The rest of the folks that spoke I wasn’t familiar with, so a lot of the morning ended up turning into a barrage of white noise. Too much information at a hurried clip entered my noggin and swirled around until most of it ended up blowing back out through my ears. Still though, I was very grateful for the opportunity and in the end I realized that they had sold me on becoming a member.

 

At the time, I wasn’t aware of the NFB, (National Federation of the Blind). Sure, I had probably heard the name a few times, along with ACB, but didn’t really understand who they were, or what they did. Having the chance to sit and listen to the morning session gave me a great deal to think about, and think I did.

 

To be continued…

 

2017 06 24 Journal Excerpt: Page 38 June 24, 2017

As some memories fade, new ones are born. I wish I could have all of my memories back, but if the unwritten rules say we have to turn over those to gather in these, then I’ll keep trying to make the best of it. Some of my childhood memories are as strong as the ones from last week. How is that possible? How can that be? Such a long time ago, but then again, a couple years ago seems at times as far away as a childhood in Little Falls. Digitally manufactured and preserved by an imagination out of control.

 

My memories of my past have come to visit so many times. Some days I just sit and think about different things. Once in a while I reel in something that I haven’t thought of for quite a while, and usually it builds a smile across my face.

 

I like those the best.

 

Go grab yourself some memories.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 38

Summer 2011

 

I have an amazing lady by my side. I know she isn’t happy that she’s reading about herself right now, but she is a part of my story, as she has become a part of me.

 

Thinking back, there were so many times when she went the extra distance to help me realize that my life was very much still worth living. Although my pity prone self pushed back many times, there were those times that it didn’t, and the result was a taste of a world gone by, with a pinch of a world waiting to be.

 

That summer of 2011, we bought several five gallon buckets and set off to grow some potted roma tomato plants out behind the garage. I remember every part of the experience, and that first bite of one of the tomatoes was pure heaven. The plants didn’t yield as much as our traditional garden tomatoes used to, but the smell of the vines, the taste of the fruit was unforgettable.

 

I tried to do as much with my stupid sight as I could. I joked that I could see just enough to piss me off, and it was true. So many times I would strain to see just a little bit more, and each time I did, I became dizzy as hell, almost to the point of passing out a couple of times. I dunno what was causing it, but I soon learned that I needed to accept what I had and learn to do the most with it.

 

My dreams were a trip back then. I would often dream about being able to see, and realizing in the dream that I was supposed to be blind. The dreams inserted the belief that I could see, and my blindness had somehow miraculously come to an end. Eventually, I would wake up, and again, I was reminded that I still couldn’t see. I loved the feeling that my sight loss had come to an end, and wish I could have convinced the moment of the dream to follow me back to reality. Oh how I wanted that to happen.

 

Or did it?

 

There were several mornings in those first couple years when I awoke to see something very familiar. Yes, that’s right. See. Each time the experience was the same. The images of my past, or so I thought, seemed to catch up to me for a friendly visit.

 

As I woke up, I lifted my arm off the bed and swung it into a new position. I saw it. I saw the skin color, the contours of my arm, the color of the wall, the ceiling, even the shimmering ring on my finger. I moved my arm a few times to make sure it was real, and the vision corresponded perfectly to my movement. My heart stopped in my chest, my breath couldn’t breathe, and as I stared at my arm, it stared back. I thought I must be dreaming, but knew I wasn’t.

 

The visions continued on for roughly thirty seconds, and then, slowly, the picture faded into a dull gray haze. I was shocked by what I had seen, and sad to see it go. The experience, brief as it was, sent an electric current down through me that lasted all day. These sightings happened five or six times within the course of a year or so, and to this day I can still see the skin tone of my arm. It was like an old friend had stopped by for a visit.

 

Unimaginable, unannounced, unbelievable, wonderfully unbelievable, simply unbelievable.

 

As I wrote a little earlier, Lynne kept tugging me towards new experiences that proved to be eye opening adventures. I imagine she was trying to get a piece of me back from the past, almost like planting a tomato plant in the fertilized soil, so that it would grow and become something new, something that stretched to meet the sunshine and learned how to grow towards tomorrow.

 

As the metaphors stampede my thoughts, I realize that I am the luckiest guy in the world to have the partner I have. I also realize that so many times my stupid ego has continuously gotten in the way of a good day. Pitiful, selfish, self centered child who had no clue how to recognize a golden opportunity.

 

I forgot what it was like to live, but I was comparing everything to my sighted life. I was comparing apples and oranges.

 

While I waded through the turmoil of existence, I did manage to keep my feet moving forward. I kept reminding myself of the promise I had made to myself to move forward, no matter what, and to never turn away from an obstacle, a challenge, a formidable wall of fear, for those things that proved to be opportunities often disguised themselves as things that I used to veer away from or ignore completely. My old character traits of complacency and laziness wanted to take me for another stroll, and many times I still gave in, until I remembered the goal of maneuvering through whatever this darkened corridor had in store.

 

To be continued…

 

2017 06 23 Journal Excerpt: Page 37 June 23, 2017

 

Our lives are full of stories that we keep with us through time. The years are filled with trends that we latch on to with a ferocity for excitement. Myself, I have what you could call an addictive personality, so the trends, the impulses, the things that latch on to me become very addictive to me, and man do they have a way of changing me. Some of these trends, as quickly as they grab hold of us, they also can just as quickly pack their bags and move on down the road, rapidly being replaced by the next trend, the next impulse.

 

This next page deals with a couple of those trends, those things in my life that had a unique way of latching on to me. Some times we don’t notice one trend being replaced by another, but often times, we do.

 

It’s Friday, and I hope you all have a great rest of your day, and weekend.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 37

Summer 2011

 

There were many instances of my lack of concentration getting the better of me. Through it all, I had to learn how to trust my mobility instructors, and I’m very glad I did. Gaining trust in them allowed me to focus on the most important thing of all, my relationship with my cane. I had to learn how to trust my cane along with trusting my instructors, for my cane was also an instructor. My cane talked to me. It spoke in a language that I had to study, and as I began to understand the cane, I began to figure out how to open the doors of mobility., As I walked through those doors, I learned another lesson, probably the biggest one of all. I began to learn that I lost my vision so that I might learn how to see. The mobility, the assistive technology, the additional heightened senses, the inspiration that was coming at me, that was touching me, that began to rise up from within me, all of these additions to my life were so very unexpected, and to this day I’m still learning from each and every one of them.

 

Other emotions were having their way with me as well. It had been a year since the world had grown dark around me, and through the 2011 summer, I was constantly reminded of just how much I couldn’t see. I was a stubborned blind man with a passion for hanging on to my independence. I didn’t want to let go of the past, of my life with sight, and as the days progressed, small pieces of my past life, of my independence fell through my fingers and away from the present. Every time it happened, I shuddered inside as I lay another part of my past to rest. Realizing all of the things that I couldn’t do any more was a painful task that wreaked havoc on my vulnerable soul.

 

The tears that had flowed so freely began to diminish with time, and with each incident of bitter truth, I eventually felt like a damp dish rag that had been wrung out over and again and over and again. I tried to find things to feel happy about, but the happiness didn’t last long. The smiles quickly turned to a thin lipped frown that was full of anger, resentment and fear.

 

Man, as I write this, I’m being flooded by samples of those emotions. Here it is several years later, and the heart still races, the anxiety still rushes and the doubt still creeps in.

 

That summer of 2011 also saw me say goodbye to a dear old friend. I had written about my roto-tiller that sat idle through the summer of 2010. I wrote about pushing it back to the garage through half a foot of snow in early December. I wrote about how she hollered and screamed at me for just one more chance to run through the garden. As she cried, so did I. Another part of my past was slowly coming to a sad end.

 

I ended up trading the tiller for a 12 string Fender electric acoustic guitar in the summer of 2011. Lynne posted an ad somewhere that I would like to trade the tiller, and at just about the same time, she saw another ad from a gentleman in Moscow who was looking to trade his guitar for a tiller. That’s Moscow Maine. Grin It was meant to be, and saying goodbye to my old ground chomping friend was one of the hardest things I had ever done. If not for another girl entering my life at the same time, I don’t know what I would have done. Holding that guitar in my arms as he drove away with the tiller was the worst of times, and the best of times. I could hear my tiller screaming to me as he drove away, but I also heard a sweet 12 stringed lullaby softly playing in my ear.

 

Man, the emotions that swept down through me during these times was simply amazing. I guess they played a major role in helping to build a new foundation that started to replace the one that was being slowly demolished. Is demolish a good description? I’m sure there’s a more suited word, but at times it sure felt like it was truly being demolished.

 

Life continued to come at me. It didn’t care what I was going through. It didn’t care in the least. It was only able to continue on as before.

 

No matter what.

 

To be continued…

 

 

2017 06 22 Journal Excerpt Page 36 June 22, 2017

Here I go again on another emotional trek. It seems that’s mostly what I did back a few years ago. I lived a little, I felt a lot. It’s pretty safe to say that a lot of what I was feeling was so different, I wouldn’t have been able to put a name with the emotion. Fact is, if faced with those same emotions today, I probably still couldn’t pin a name to it. I lived it though, and learned a great deal from it, from them.

 

This next excerpt took me back to a place that I’ll never ever have to worry about forgetting. The level that this page grabbed hold of me was unforgettable, and the lesson learned was priceless.

 

I hope you’re having a great day, and I’ll catch up with ya later on.

 

Be well.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Excerpt describes summer 2011.

 

Page 36

 

With each O&M lesson came different situations which proved to supply me with different experiences. As my written overviews detailed the lessons, they allowed me to go back and explore those experiences from my own unique perspective. So many lessons accompanied so many memorable moments.

 

One of the most memorable of the bunch was the time when I didn’t care much for where the street ended. There I was, walking my way down the sidewalk, when all of a sudden, I took three or four steps onto a lawn. I turned to face Rosemary and asked her what the hell happened, and why I was standing on grass. I imagine she was smiling as she looked at me and told me to figure it out.

 

Well, I turned a quarter turn, then another, then another, and again asked her where I was. The panic slowly subsided, only to be replaced with a level of confusion that I had rarely faced.

 

She was very determined not to help me figure it out, and so as I turned where I stood, I tried to figure it out. The audio clues continued to come at me, but I couldn’t put them to any good use. I looked up to find where the sun was, then listened again to the sounds. Cars going by, children playing, a dog barking, they all mixed into my head like a chef’s salad, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find the ranch dressing.

 

Finally, as I slowly started to remember where we were, the neighborhood, the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place. The children were out at recess at a school that was at the end of the street where I had been walking. The traffic was running back and forth, which I knew was Pleasant Street. The sun was, for the most part, in the eastern sky, for it was fairly early in the morning. The grass? The grass? Really? Now, let me think.

 

And think I did, until a smile crept across my face.

 

Rosemary asked me what I was smiling about, and I began to tell her what I thought had happened to the wandering goat.

 

I had reached the end of School Street, which had the school on my right as I approached the street corner, the School Street and Pleasant Street corner. This particular street corner was not raised up from the street, but was flush with the street level, which explains why I didn’t detect it with my cane. I swept right past the tactile mat at the corner, not hitting it with my cane, and proceeded to walk right across the street without knowing it. Rosemary had walked up beside me as I approached the corner to make sure there was no traffic coming along Pleasant Street. There wasn’t, so she let me walk across the street, through the opposite sidewalk, which was also level with the street, and up onto the lawn of an apartment building, where I finally realized something was wrong and stopped.

 

This was one of the most awakening moments of my mobility experiences. I will never forget it, and as I write about it right now, those same emotions came rolling in. Remembering back, I am pretty sure that I had become completely caught off guard, mostly because my concentration had been broken. The sounds of the children outside playing at recess picked me up and carried me away. This was the second time we had been around that same block that morning, and I guess you could say I was feeling a little cocky. I was so self assured that there would be no problems to think through, no obstacles to work through, no dilemmas to have to problem solve through. It was just me, my cane, and my misplaced ego against the great big beautiful visual world.

 

Man how 8 seconds can change your attitude.

 

To be continued…

 

 

2017 06 21 Journal Excerpt Page 35 June 21, 2017

Emotions come, and emotions go. The distance between coming and going can feel like a lifetime, but it consists of all the things that life is made of. A recipe of living, breathing, experiencing, discovering, welcoming, and yes, veering away from. Millions of steps towards a sunset, along a sunrise, away from the rain and towards a familiar face, it all brings us to that certain spot where, for some reason, we’re meant to be.

 

And here we go again.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 35

 

Through the rest of summer 2011 I did manage to stick with the two groups, and as the writing assignments piled up, so too did my confidence in writing overall. I had started writing short stories and poems about my experience of losing my sight, and as I almost forgot to tell you, late spring 2011 I started my blog. I can’t really remember how I got pointed in that direction, but as I write this entry now, late spring 2017, I am still writing and posting to my blog, which is entitled, Surviving.

 

I started the blog on Google’s Blogspot platform, and with the help of my then assistive tech tutor, Mike Adams, figured out how to do it. We spent a few sessions going over the ins and outs of blogging, but time and time again I was met head on with issues with the blog site’s accessibility features, or lack there of. Before I knew it, the moderator of the second writer’s group told me about WordPress, which was another blogging platform that, from what Jacki told me, was far more responsive to the needs of those like me who used screen readers.

 

I switched over to WordPress, and am still using their website today. I think I’m hovering around 400 or so posts to my blog, and am right now in the process of posting a series of entries containing this journal that I’m writing in right now. I posted page 25 today, that’s 25 posts, 25 days in a row, and I still have a few to go, especially seeing as how I am lengthening the size of the journal as I write. Grin

 

 

Turning back a couple months, Rosemary and I started back with O&M early spring 2011, and although I didn’t look forward to the mobility lessons, I knew that I needed them greatly.

 

Our favorite stomping grounds were in the city of Waterville, and away I went, following my white cane with a blonde haired woman ten steps behind me. She didn’t have me do any more lessons with blindfolds on, which was a reason for me to jump for joy. What little sight I had was lending me a hand, as it was giving me the opportunity to find and identify landmarks, as blurred and dull as they were. Contrasted items proved to be the most benefit for me, especially with snow on the ground. Bare pavement, parked cars, telephone poles, buildings against the sky, they all soon became my best friends. I learned very quickly though just how many tricks my poor, limited vision could play on me. I remember once sighting what I thought was a telephone pole between the road and I. I soon found out that the pole wasn’t next to me, but across the road on that sidewalk. Things like that really spun me around and smacked me upside the head. A reality check supreme.

 

Our excursions around downtown Waterville usually included a stop into a small Main Street sandwich shop, where we both usually ordered bagels and a coffee. I fell in love with their asiago cheese bagel. As we sat and consumed our drinks and foods, we usually discussed the lesson. I was able to go over issues that I was encountering, and how they were affecting my ability to maneuver behind the cane. Rosemary began asking me to write up overviews of the lessons, which turned into assignments that I emailed to her upon completion. At the end of our time together, I compiled the documents into one single manuscript, which I sent to her as well. I should turn that into a book some time in the future.

 

The lessons over those next few months were a constant reminder of my blindness, but they also helped to open my eyes to what might be in store for me. Rosemary kept telling me that besides feeling vulnerable, frightened, scared, angry, frustrated, inept, uncoordinated and mad as hell, I exuded a level of confidence with the way I carried myself as I maneuvered down the sidewalks of Waterville. She kept telling me that I stood tall as I walked behind my cane, and that people were always noticing me. I was fairly certain that the reason they were noticing me was because I was a very unusual sight. She continued to disagree, and kept telling me that whatever I was feeling inside, it didn’t show on the outside.

 

There were occasions where my mobility lessons ended up being a learning experience extraordinaire. I shrug these incidents off as extreme lessons, and believe me, the emotions that accompanied these instances were very, very extreme. ,

 

To be continued…