This next excerpt was written in mid May, 2011. I know that a lot of the things in these posts are repeated, but I also know that the rise and fall of my emotions also were very repetitive during those days. It didn’t take much to set me off, and it seemed the more I cursed and cried, the more I realized just how hard I would need to work, because this new life just wouldn’t let go of me.
And the struggle to learn continued.
Happy Friday to you all, and I hope you get to smile today.
As I look back to that point in my life I am faced head on with the reality that the person that I was, the person that I used to be has been laid to rest. The person that was looking back at me in the mirror has taken the baggage that used to weigh me down and left town. I can honestly say that I am glad he left. Now don’t get me wrong. He will surely pop in from time to time like an unwanted relative. I can not afford to let him stay in the guest room for not even one night. I can not afford to feed this unwanted guest any more. He can not be let in the front door any more.
I still am not comfortable in my skin, but I am starting to get to know the other guy that is surely staring back at me in the mirror. I can take my time to get to know this new person. I shed the skin of a complacent, non driven soul. I said goodbye to the sight, and welcomed the new vision. I have said on many occasions that I had to lose my sight so that I could see. I believe that more and more every day.
The long days of summer did seem to take a toll on me as the time dragged by. It is funny how slow the days seem to go, but then the week was done and it seemed to have flown by so incredibly fast. A perpetual blur.
July turned into August and I hardly even noticed. Summer had always been the highlight of my year, but with everything else that was going on, well, I just didn’t even notice it.
One day Lynne led me out to the garden so we could check on things as they grew. I had put so much effort into the garden that June. It made me mad as hell not being able to see how it was doing. I had always loved watching the garden grow. It was just so soothing and relaxing to me.
Well Lynne sat me down in a lawn chair as she walked through the garden. She was describing it to me as she started weeding the lower portions where the broccoli and turnip were.
I knew that the corn was in front of me. I could see a small glimpse of the hip high stalks swaying with the breeze. It was a warm day, as so many of those days in July and August seemed to be.
I got out of the chair and down on my knees. I then crawled to where the rows of corn started, and started weeding. It felt so strange, yet so wonderful to get my hands in the dirt and start pulling weeds. I had just finished weeding the garden the weekend of the 4th when I had the series of strokes that did me in. I had worked so hard weeding the onions and carrots. The carrots. Man was it hard weeding the carrots. I hated to have to, but felt so good when the row was all done.
I did manage to weed through the first two rows of corn. Lynne stood up and hollered at me. I guess she couldn’t believe that I was attempting to weed. Attempting? Hell, I was a weeding fool. The only thing was that I wasn’t really sure if I was pulling just weeds and not the corn also. She quickly informed me that I was indeed weeding just the corn. I made it through the entire two rows and only pulled 5 or 6 stalks of corn. I was shocked and amazed at how good I did. I felt good. I felt better than I had felt in quite some time. It was as though I had proven my worth for the first time since my vision loss. I had regained a taste of my independence, and it felt truly wonderful.
I don’t ever want to forget how good that day felt to me. I want to bottle those emotions and take them out on days when I am having a hard time. I need to be able to never forget how simple and easy it was to turn around my outlook on everything. I wanted my life back. I wanted it back in the worst way.
Those first few days in August were some of the most important of my life. I had a sense that things were starting to happen in my life. I was overwhelmed at times with the onslaught of being blind, but it didn’t seem to feel as hopeless as it had during those long dark days in July.
I was still in close contact with Leona and she continued to reassure me that everything was going to be ok. Somehow I knew it would be, just by the way she told me that it would be. I trusted her with everything I had. With everything I have. It was crucial that I took her positivity and ran with it. I needed an excuse to feel confident, and she was it.
I did finally meet Steve Sawczyn and Rosemary Houghton in those early days in August. I was so impressed with Steve that I can’t even begin to tell you. Now I should tell you that he has been blind since birth, and his accomplishments through his career as an assistive technology instructor have done nothing but grow. Everything he had, I wanted. The confidence, the intelligence, the savvy, the self assurance, all of it. I wanted it all.
I also met, as I said, Rosemary, She gave me a certain level of confidence that I desperately lacked. I knew that the orientation and mobility lessons with her would be some of the most grueling experiences that I had ever encountered. I was right, and this time I hated being right.
The first couple of lessons were very strange. I felt sort of cocky and that bothered me. I could not afford to be cocky in the least. I now look back and realize that I was showing off to her the fact that I could still see, even though it was a small sliver in my right outer peripheral, which was similar to looking through wax paper at dusk. I wanted her to feel that she was wasting her time with my lessons. I didn’t need them, not in the least. I could still see. I could still get around on my own. I could still have a brain transplant too, because nothing was ever further from the truth.
The fact is, I was blind. The fact is, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. The fact is, I needed help. I couldn’t do this on my own, and that scared the hell out of me. It scared me completely. I was completely scared beyond any doubt. Did I mention that I was also scared? Walking around with a long white cane made me more aware of my disability than any other thing. I knew that when the long white cane was in my hands and I was trying to stay on the sidewalk, that I was completely vulnerable. I was completely humbled by my new existence. I was ashamed, scared, humiliated, embarrassed, mad, pissed off, frustrated, and about 400 other internal emotions. I was in fact a blind man walking with a cane, because I was blind. I was a blind man walking on the streets of Waterville Maine in early August, 2010, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all, and there was nothing I could do to change it. Nothing. I could accept it though. I could accept the fact that I was willing to acknowledge my disability and ask for help. I was willing to start fresh and learn what I needed to learn about what had happened to me, and what I needed to do to learn to live with it. I wanted to learn how to learn to accept what I had lost, and look for things that I could learn so that I could start to live again.
I realized that it was going to be a long hard struggle, and I kept telling myself that I was going to see it through. No matter what, I was going to see it through. I owed it to myself, I owed it to my wife. I owed it to my son, and my grandson, and my folks and siblings. Most of all, I owed it to myself. I said that already, right?
I was the recipient of the fruits of my labor, and I sure as hell needed a chance.
Those first few mobility lessons were an eye opener for me of sorts. Never had I laid my heart and soul out there for all to see like that.
To be continued…