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 16 Journal Excerpt: Page 30 June 16, 2017

This next excerpt was written November, 2011. A lot of time had passed since I had started the journal, and with large chunks of no activity, I often repeated myself with the entries. Many different things stuck out in my mind, and many things slipped to the side along with the rest of the blurred time.

That first year of vision loss was like the 100 meter dash. Ready? Set? Gunshot! Look at me go! It’s amazing that the world was able to keep up with me, because it sure as hell seemed like I was dashing around like a frantic man, late for work, late for the train, late for a very important date.

The important date was the rest of my life, and although I couldn’t see it, I could sense it standing there, checking the time on its wrist watch.

Time’s a wasting, so we better get going with this next post.

Take care.

Deon

***

Page 30

Nov. 12 2011

It has been, once again, several weeks since I have written in this ledger. I realize that when I have such large gaps in the entries, that the subject lines can tend to sway to and fro, as I lose focus of where I am, and the topics I have covered.

Winter 2010, 2011 was a long lonely winter for me, as well as for my wife. I know that it was probably the hardest winter she has ever had to endure. Not only was it a long and cold winter, but there was a lot of snow, and adding the extra work that she was forced to deal with, it must have been hell for her. I do admire her, and her perseverance through the long snowy days.

For the most part, I tried to do what I could, when I could. I managed to keep some paths cleared of snow out back, so that we could manage the dogs. I can only imagine how ratty the paths looked, after I got done shoveling and clearing them of snow. Most attempts at this was just that, attempts. I had no real idea what in hell I was doing. I tried to keep my visual land markers in order, but some days the blinding snow played tricks on me, and I would seriously lose my orientation. I can remember one day in particular, I thought I was shoveling out around the pool, so as to make a short run for the dogs, and a place to chuck the Doggy doo. I had no idea whether I was shoveling the existing path or not.

I was not. I had veered to the left, and was shoveling where no man had gone before. It was the final frontier, and I had no control of the bridge.

I had many times such as these, where I thought I was going in one direction, and to my shocking surprise, I was heading in the total opposite direction.

Writing this, I think back to the Lion’s meeting that I spoke at, and the facing the flag dilemma. grin

From that shoveling round-about experience, forward, , I fully understood that there were going to be times and places where my limited vision would let me down, and that humility would play a major role in how I managed to handle different situations.

I continue to get twisted around from time to time, and there are very many situations where my vision is completely useless, such as in dark, and unfamiliar areas. I will always have to keep the mind set of a blind man, and learn from each experience. I have captured many skills this past year, and as long as I can keep a healthy frame of mind, I will continue to learn and grow, as a man who can’t see very well.

Through the winter months, as I have said, I completely dove head first into my writing. I continued to get pc tutoring from Mike Adams, and with his help and guidance, I continued to advance my knowledge, and learned the accessibility features of my pc, and am grateful for the opportunity in doing so.

In early march, I did get switched over from System Access, to Jaws. I had to wait a couple months for the full version software, and up to then, I had a demo version installed. I was able to dive into it, but the demo version had a time limit on it, and after the limit expired, you would have to reboot the pc to gain another full time interval again. I did not like to reboot my pc, as most of the time, it would take me around an hour to get it fully up and running again. I have been having a series of issues with this pc since back in early 2010, where it would do the dreaded blue screen of death, and crash with a system crash dump. On top of that, when you would start it from a cold state, it would run fine for a few minutes, then with a click of who knows what, the pc would just go black, like someone had unplugged it.

These problems have been plaguing me ever since, and at this time, I leave it on 24/7. I don’t dare to shut it down, for fear of having to go through this process every time.

There also started another issue where even with a quick reboot, the pc would start ok, it seemed, but none of the programs would load up, and the system was virtually unusable. This dilemma would last sometimes for an hour or so, until everything would start loading and working all at once. It really freaked me out when this happened. When this still happens.

Over the years, I had used a little program called C Cleaner. It was a utility tool that had a couple functions. I used it to clean the junk out of the pc, like temp files, caches, recycle bin, and the temp files of the web browsers. It also had a nice registry scan tool that picked up errors, and corrected them.

I had stopped using the program after learning that the company where my wife was working recommended that none of their employees use it. She convinced me to delete the program, and so I did.

It was a few months later that my pc developed the issue with the programs not responding upon a reboot. I was in peril, as my screen reader would not load upon reboots. I was left without the use of my pc, and it really sucked.

I then remembered about the registry scan utility of ccleaner, and figured out how to download, and reinstall the program. After a few frustrating hours, I did manage to get the program up and running, and I ran the registry scan a couple of times. Thank God the program was somewhat accessible, and I could maneuver through it.

After the registry scans, I reluctantly tried a reboot, and the program response was back to normal. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as I had brought my pc back into a fact simile of normalcy.

Nothing had felt as good as that did in quite some time. I felt independently capable of handling a problem, and was very happy with myself. I will never use another registry scan utility again, and fully feel comfortable in recommending this program to anyone I know.

To be continued…

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2017 06 12 Journal Excerpt Page 26: Word Count 998 June 12, 2017

email: dplion@roadrunner.com
Word Count 998
Blog Address: http://www.dplyons.wordpress.com

Boy were my perceptions a little distorted back in 2010. Reading back through the journal, it’s apparent to me that I became so needy that I grew to expect things from people. I became selfish and unfeeling outside of my own pain and anguish. As many wrenches as life was throwing at me, it seems that I didn’t do the smart thing, which would have been to catch the wrenches, open my tool box and stock up. What I became good at was blocking the flying tools with my forearms while I cursed my very existence.

I apologize to anyone that I have looked down to, talked down to, and expected things from which was completely uncalled for. I know that I still do fall back into my little nook sometimes, and I’m in no way finished working through the process of grieving. They say that time heals all wounds, but it has become fairly apparent to me that there’s a ton of things that I still need to work on.

While I keep working, I invite you to keep reading. Thank you all for your help, your friendship and once again, away we go.

Deon

***

Page 26

After I returned from the Carroll Center, I also contacted the Lions Club in Clinton because I had heard about them at one of the class seminars at the center. I had no idea that the Lions organization had so much to do with helping folks with vision problems.

I wrote an email to the head of our local chapter here in town, and was answered by the head person. She asked me if I would be interested in speaking at one of their monthly meetings in town. We were invited for the supper event that coincides with the meetings. I gladly accepted and was quite excited at the chance. I thought I would be nervous, but at the end, I was really not. The fact that I could not see the people at the meeting as I spoke probably had a lot to do with my non fear factor. I had always been terrified to speak in front of people in the past, but found that it was rather easy to speak that night.

One of the regional big wigs of the organization was also in attendance at the meeting. He spoke to the group and told them that one of the main reasons that the lions club was formed, was to help and assist people such as me.

We were graciously welcomed at the meeting, and treated with the utmost courtesy and friendship. It was a true fellowship feeling.

I did speak with passion and a little sense of humor, as I always have in those situations. At one point, I was speaking, and Lynne kept whispering for me to turn to the right. I did. She told me to turn to the right a little more. I did. Still, she told me to turn to the right. I asked her if I was speaking to the wall. One of the men at the head table told me that I was speaking to the ,American flag behind the head table. It seemed that as I was speaking, I was slowly rocking back and forth. As I rocked back and forth, my feet shuffled, and continuously slowly turned me around to the left, until I was facing at around seven o’clock. He told me that I was speaking to the flag, and then I put my hand over my heart and said, “Well, God Bless America.” The whole place burst out in laughter. Lynne told me that my ears were beet red, which happens to me when I get embarrassed.

The night was a lot of fun, and I felt really good afterwards. I knew a couple people at the meeting, and they came up to me after to say hi. We left with the feeling that we would be in touch with the Lions Club a lot in the future.

To this day, fall 2011, , we have heard from no one belonging to the organization. I did find out that Leona has also been involved with the organization, and this past spring, she went to one of their regional events at Sunday River. She keeps telling me that the organization is going to be in contact with me about some sort of offer or something. She also wants us to join the organization. I have my doubts.

My folks reached out to the organization when I was an infant, as they were looking at an incredible task of getting my mother and me down to New York City for cancer treatments. The organization did nothing in the form of any kind of help. My folks have held a sore spot in their hearts for the Lions Club ever since. ?This fact, along with the fact that I have had no offerings of assistance what so ever, have left me with a sour taste in my mouth as well.

I realize as I write this that my perceptions of the Lions Club arise from the turmoil I was going through, and in a fractured state of mind as I had laid claim to, strange perceptions and expectations can work in to your mind and play havoc with your approach to many, many things. How can I come to expect things from a source that I knew nothing about? How twisted is that? How twisted was my logic back then? Should I consider this as one of my stepping stones, one of my learning points? Just asking these questions leads me to believe that the answer is, yes.

On that December day back in 2010, I came to the bitter conclusion that I would wait to see what was to transpire. The last thing I wanted was to close any doors in my life. I could not, and can not afford to by any means.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 11 Journal Post Page 25 June 11, 2017

This next segment was written September 2011. When I read through it I realized again that I often wrote how I felt like a complete waste of time. I felt many emotions, and many of those left me wondering, worrying and wandering through a slideshow of a dark place that, even though I didn’t care for, I found myself struggling to not think about.

I know now that by writing about it, I was facing those fears head on in a way that allowed me to explore different understandings of things that were brand new. Its funny how learning how to touch type opened up so many different things for me. Nothing can veer me away from believing that things happen for a reason, and we are exactly where we are meant to be. This time, today, right now is the start of something new. Each minute of each day is a gift. The present.

Pretty cool, huh?

Deon

***

Page 25

It’s been some time since I’ve entered anything again, so here goes.

Those days when I returned home after the Carroll Center were some of the hardest days I have ever lived. They were also some of the most spiritually awakening days of my life. I tried to have a chat with God on a daily basis. A lot of the chats revolved around me asking Him “why?” I did not know why anyone would be left with the vision that I was left with. It really hit home and I felt continuously like I had done something severely wrong to be left with this. It must have been redemption for all of my past faults and past wrongs. I truly did some soul searching back in those days, as I still do today.

The first few weeks after returning home, I was left with a feeling of sheer emptiness. My wife, God bless her, had poured her heart and soul out onto the table for me and everyone else to see. I wasn’t sure just how much fuel she had left in her tank. She has shown me time and time again what a strong woman she is, and that she is in this, along with me, for the long haul. I can not imagine being in her shoes, back then, or now. I must have seemed like such a lost child. Some days I still do.

The months through the winter were long, hard, and cold. I tried to grasp onto everything that I had learned at the center, and for the most part, I think I did the best I could. I still felt like a lost little boy with no sense of purpose. I did keep in touch with Leona, and she told me what I needed to hear. She always did.

Mid way through December, I managed to get the roto tiller rolled back to the garage area. It was very hard for me to know that the tiller had been out there beside the garden all summer, and had not been used. She talked to me, my tiller. She cried to me to let her have a couple runs through the garden. I was not able to run the tiller for obvious reasons, and Lynne just couldn’t run it herself.

That was a part of me that I had lost that really had an impact on me. It really hit home, and I still greave the loss today. My garden had been such a form of independence to me, without even knowing it. Now as I write this, it’s been a full summer of having no garden, and I long to walk through freshly tilled dirt again. Nothing felt better than walking through cool fresh dirt with my bare feet. I just loved it, and miss it greatly.

As I have said before, I am sure that I will gradually get back into gardening, but it’ll be a completely different feeling. Who knows, it just might be even better than before. We would like to get into some form of box gardening, or a small plot so that we may grow some tomatoes again. I think that’s what we miss the most, the roma pear tomatoes. When I walked past the box gardens at the Carroll Center, I could smell the tomato vines, and it almost made me cry. I crave the smell of tomato vines.

Well, winter came, and the snow piled up outside. I did manage to get the front driveway and a few paths out back shoveled. It was extremely hard, and I look back and wonder just how I did it.

I know that I must have run back and forth over the same shoveled areas again and again, because I could not really see the areas already shoveled very well. I did persist though, and managed to keep the driveway and the paths out back all clear all winter.

I did get some help from Mr. Nelson across the street, as he used his Kubota tractor a couple of times to clean the end of the driveway back. The snow at the end of the driveway was piling in from the town plow, and creeping in to the driveway. I had a very difficult time getting the snow up over the banks with the snow scoop. One of the last storms that we got was very heavy and wet snow. I had to use a regular shovel to get the end clear. I thought I was going to have a heart attack before I was all done.

I used to make a running joke about thinking I was doing such a good job at shoveling, until one day my wife drove up beside me and asked if I would like a ride back to the house, because it seems that I had shoveled right past the end of the driveway, and had unknowingly started busily making my way down the road. I got a lot of laughs from that one.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 09 Journal Excerpt Page 23 June 9, 2017

I have always been sort of a kid at heart. Growing old has only increased the distance of years, but the memories of the actions remain fresh in my mind. Certain things we feel as a child become embedded in our core. The time spent moving away from our youth might clutter the hallways with a vast experience, but the taste of our childhood often lingers on the tips of our tongues.

This next segment brings back so many different memories for me. Not only the memories of the moment, but the experiences of a child with eyes as big as the starry filled skies.

Ok. Scattered brain tangent acquisition complete. Present task frame re-engaged.
Current journal excerpt initiated.

Deon

***

Page 23

I walked up to the graduation podium that morning feeling like I was skipping along a cloud. It felt a little strange to be able to hear the people in the room, but not to be able to see them.

I made it up to the microphone and spoke about a scared guy that had just become blind, and had come to this place in Newton Mass to try and figure out how to live as a blind man. I was nervous and my voice was shaky and cracking. I felt just like I did in grade school when I had to go up in front of the class to read a book report. I suppose that by not being able to see the audience, it did relieve me of a lot of my inhibitions. My anxiety levels were not as combustuous as they usually were.

I thanked the center instructors, and the staff, and the other students for being there for me. I told of friendships that had been built on hope and faith and drive and determination. A truer foundation for friendship had never been seen by me.

As I ended my words of thanks and praise, I started back to my seat as the audience applauded me, as they had done with the others.

Mike got back on the microphone and told me to turn around and come back to the podium. I was a little surprised and figured that he had a story about the chicken coop that I had helped with.

It wasn’t about the chicken coop.

I turned and walked back to the podium and stood beside Mike. He asked one of the staff to go over to the table where the shop projects were. He told them to bring mine over to the podium. He took it from the staff member, and handed it to me. “Mr. Lyons,” he said, “I would like you to tell everyone the story of this little toy truck.”

I was surprised as hell and wondered why he had picked mine as the only one to be highlighted. I felt very strange, but I also felt very good.

I took the truck from him, and proceeded to tell of the story of a little boy that had told his grandmother of a present that he wanted for Christmas. The audience was hushed as I spoke of the truck and the trials of building it, and of a wonderful shop instructor that made it all happen.

It was a wonderful experience to be able to tell the story. It was a simple story of love and determination and passion and drive and hope and family and faith. It was a simple story from the heart, and as I told it, I got a peaceful feeling deep inside of me. It was one of the best feelings I have ever felt. The whole while I was telling the story, I got flashes of Lynne and Jack rushing through my head. I knew that Matt was filming the speech, and I smiled knowing that he was only a few feet away. Man was it good to have him there. He made the whole day complete.

I ended the story with a tear in my eye as mike grabbed my arm and squeezed it tightly. “Thank you.” He whispered to me in my ear. I returned to my seat with the truck still in my clutches. The room applauded, and after the last person went to the podium, I was swarmed with people from the auditorium wanting to take pictures with me and my grandson’s truck. It was a strangely wonderful feeling.

There were a lot of pictures taken after the ceremonies, teachers with students, students with parents and loved ones. I was asked by Heather to take a picture with her and fellow student Brandon Eiffel. I was glad to. I had grown quite fond of Heather. Some of the other students didn’t care for her. I think it was just her demeanor, but I was able to see through all of that, and I feel that I was really able to get to know her as a person. She always had praise for me and continually told me that I was way too hard on myself. I know this, and continue to be. It is a trait handed down to me by my father. I strive to reach a level of praise according to what I feel his standards were, and are.

I did wonder why my project was selected out of everyone else’s to showcase at the ceremony. I was told later on that it was because my story was something that everyone could relate to. It was so heart warming and simple and full of a Childs vision of what Christmas means. I felt proud and so lucky to have the family that I do. Every time I think of Jack, I smile. It isn’t just a surface smile, but a smile from deep within my soul. It’s a smile that will be with me for the rest of my life.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 07 Journal Excerpt: Page 21 June 7, 2017

This next page from my journal describes one of the most important weeks of my life. The build up, the wind down, the exhilarating emotions, the unforgettable memories that followed me home, it all signified the end of something that I would never forget, and the start of something I could never have imagined. Through all of those days at the center, I was unknowingly preparing for the rest of my life, a life without the use of sight, but a life with so many new visions.

It’s been a few years from there, to here, and man how things have changed.

And now, on with the post.

Deon

***

Page 21

I had been trying to build a wooden toy truck in Manual Arts class those past several weeks, and had not made much progress with it. I really never thought I would finish it before I returned home after graduation. It just didn’t seem possible. I had class twice that week, and my instructor Bill told me that he would be able to work with me after class on a few days. I still didn’t think we would be able to finish it.

With one day left in the week, I was still miles away from finishing the project. The wooden truck was designed to be able to be completely dismantled, and then re-assembled again. Jack had told his Nunna that he wanted a toy truck for Christmas. A truck that you could take apart, and put back together again. I had told Bill this in the first week of class when we were supposed to decide what to build for a project. His eyes lit up when I mentioned it to him. He said that he had always wanted to feel like he had Santa’s workshop at his finger tips. He also told me over and over again that he loved to build toys.

That Thursday night was the night before graduation. There were only classes until noon on graduation day, and so Thursday night was my last chance. Bill had told me earlier in the day that I could come to class after final period at 3pm. I arrived with no concept of being able to finish the toy.

Bill and I stayed in the shop until 9:30 that night working on the truck. He was also helping a couple other people finishing up their projects as well. When I finally assembled the cab of the truck, and felt it, I knew we were done. I got a rush of warmth up and down my body like I used to get at Christmas time. Santa and his elves had done it. The truck was complete.

I couldn’t take it out of my hand all night. The only time I did let go of it was to let the others in the dorm have a look at it. From the reactions of the people who had working eyes, it was a cool, sharp looking truck. I felt wonderfully good. I felt like I had conquered Mount Everest. I felt like I also needed to thank Bill again and again. What a wonderful thing he did to help me finish the truck.

That last week for me was a blur of emotions and experience and hope and accomplishment and a sense of completion of the first stage of my new life. I really felt like I had climbed an unbelievably high mountain, and the view from the top was incredible.

There were some altercations, some goings on with a few of the students on campus, but for the most part, I had managed to stay focused on what I needed to do for myself. I had come through the 6 week program with flying colors, and received very good reviews from the counselors as well as the instructors. I was told that I had made a positive impression with the faculty. I had remained focused and positive in my direction and objectives. I had from the start, kept the mind set of being able to tackle obstacles head on and learn from any experience that came my way. I had lived what I had been preaching. I felt good that I had kept a promise to myself. That was the most important thing to me.

I had grown rather close to a few of the students, and hated having to leave because of them. Karen from the Cape, and Yancy from Long Island had become very good friends that I could always count on cheering me up on those gloomy days. I tried to do the same for them also. We just kept picking each other up when we needed it.

As I look back now on all that went on in those 8 weeks at the Center, I am amazed that it seemed for the most part rather easy. I told this to Leona, and she wasn’t surprised. She told me that I had my focus level set so high, and that the amount of anxiety that I riddled myself with, was met with tasks that I had internally prepared myself for, no matter what they were. By imagining the worst things that could ever happen, I had set the bar a lot higher than the Center did. I know that there were some very trying times during those two months, but like usual, they were almost never as bad as I had made them out to be in my head.

This is something that I have done my whole life. I always play things out in my head prior to events, and usually imagine that things are going to be much more difficult than they ever transpire to be. I have a vivid imagination, and it gets the better of me a lot. I should have been a screen playwright, or a drama coach, lol. My theatrical, over the top mind more than not propelled me into a created parallel world that usually never came close to reality. It sure looked and felt like it though.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 06: Journal Excerpt Page 20 June 6, 2017

Through my life I have driven many miles. I figured it out a few times in my head, and it comes out to roughly 2 and a half million miles.

I should get a smiley sticker for that, right?

Many of those miles involved going to family destinations, Buffalo, Michigan, New Hampshire, Down East, Charlotte, and each and every time, as I was driving towards family, I felt like I was heading home. That warm, indescribable feeling grabbed hold of me and guided me home.

Family has a very strong impact on our lives. When my son came to Newton Mass to pick me up and take me home, I had never felt more like I was going home than these times.

They say that home is where the heart is.

I can’t ever begin to argue with that.

Deon

***

Page 20

The weekend before my Center graduation I was not expecting to be able to get home. It had been a couple weeks since I had been back to Clinton, and I could tell Lynne was getting restless for me to come back.

Matt called me on skype on the night before that last weekend at the Carrol Center, and asked me if I would like a surprise trip home. He wanted to surprise his mom. I was all for it. Boy was I ever. I knew she was having a hard time at home and I wanted to get back to Maine as soon as possible.

Well that Friday he came to get me after classes let out at lunch. I was all jittery all the way home and I was excited to be able to surprise her. The ride seemed to fly by faster than it had ever before.

We drove in the yard at home and I got out of the car and walked up to the garage. Matt walked up onto the cellar bulkhead and Lynne heard the bulkhead squeak and groan. She came out the front porch door and started hollering at him to see if he was ok. She saw me and thought it was him. She started to shout over to me, thinking I was him, and then she all of a sudden realized it was me.

She let out a scream and came running over to me barefoot, crying and hollering and crying. She grabbed hold of my coat collar and pulled it tight to her as she gave me the most wonderful hug I have ever felt. I started hugging her and crying myself. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had. I wanted it to last forever. I was just so happy to be home and in her arms. It was wonderful. I could say it over and over again. It was wonderful. It was really really wonderful. Wicked wonderful even.

That weekend was one of the best I had had in a while. It seemed really good to be home. It also seemed good to have Lynne so excited to have me there. I had felt so inadequate around the house since July, and it really felt like she wanted me home. I felt like I was finally home. I think I’ve wore out the word, “home”.

Well we had to do some scraping to come up with enough cash for Matt to get me back to Newton. We did manage to scrape up enough, and Sunday afternoon we headed back. The ride back to the campus seemed to fly by, as I was playing over and over the scenarios in my head from that weekend. I knew that I would be returning home after that next week, and I was glad. I had had enough of the Carroll Center, and wanted to get on with my life once again. Little did I realize though how much of a role the center had in getting me ready for that

To be continued…

 

2017 04 28 Poetry: Dive! April 28, 2017

4 weeks and no days ago, it became the 1st of April, and as National Poetry Month steadily made its way to May day, there sat a poetic goat with hopes of making one more submission for the month.

I was gonna write, “I am the goat!”, but as I thought of it, I started thinking of that song that sang about a walrus with buck teeth.

It is the 28th of April, and I am here again with another one of my poems. This one crept up and started laughing at me, like a needed friend that always seems to find the need to get the last laugh.

Accessibility is a gift that I have a hard time with, but need very much. It’s something that provides me access to the digital world, but some days hands me a ticket to Unexpected Variables Avenue. Accessibility is key to the world of zeroes and ones, and although I use it every day, there’s those days that I wish I never knew about it.

The good with the bad comes with just about everything that stomps around on this big blue marble of ours, and as we spin around the sun, the world of assistive technology carefully plots a course for space station cyber.

Ok, ok, enough with the metaphors. Back to reality. Book one, page one, lesson one. All that this life gives us is meant for a reason, and I’m sorry, but I didn’t order that.
What I ordered was, um, was, hmm.

Never mind.

Have a great night and be well all.

Deon

***

Diver Down!

Accessibility is the key.
A digital desire.
One way signs and obstacles.
Tech support for hire.

PDF won’t speak to me.
Word doc’s playing dead.
Update button’s stuck again.
I think I’ll go to bed.

Shift key just went missing.
Backspace can’t be found.
The Tower’s acting really weird,
And makes a beeping sound.

Delete key sits there smiling.
Tab key’s fading fast.
Alt control has lost control.
The end key finished last.

Text to Speech stopped talking.
The six key thinks it’s five.
The mother board is sinking fast.
Dive! Dive! Dive!