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 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…

Advertisements
 

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…

 

 

2016 11 02 My Toes Nose November 2, 2016

My toes hurt. My arches are broken down. My heels both hurt. My ankles ache. My right shin has dents in it. My left calf is killing me. My right knee locks up and hurts when I go down stairs. My right thigh aches by morning, and my left ass cheek has a permanent dent in it from my wallet. Both of my hips bother me and my back is hopeless. My spine isn’t straight and my left shoulder has one thing wrong with it, unlike my right shoulder that has three. My right elbow locks once in a while and my forearms bother me at night. My wrists are ok, except when they aren’t, and all of my fingers have been broken at least twice. My thumb locks up on my left hand, and my left pinkie hasn’t been straight since 1981. My neck creaks when I turn my head. My left ear always feels clogged, and my right ear always is. My nose has been broken about a dozen times, and my hair has seen better days. Don’t get me started on my eyes, and the scrambled mess that’s inside my head is a story in and of itself.

How am I doing?

How am I really doing? Oh, just fine.
Fine? Really? Fine?
Fine is a four letter word that is nothing more than a cover up. It’s a flagrant foul. It’s a penalty flag deep in the secondary. It’s not what I asked you, and some days it’s all I have to offer.

Oh how a lot of us wish we could have that kiddish outlook that we once possessed. Yes, it’s but a fleeting moment behind us, or so it seems, and yes, it has supplied us with wonderment and splendor amidst everything else that makes up who we are, who we have become and who we used to be.

I long for those days of old when we felt an urge and jumped all over it. Riding a bike, grabbing a basketball, running out through the field, heading back up through the field with a fishing pole in one hand, and a string of fish in the other.

What the hell happened to me? What the hell happened to you? What on earth happened to us?

I saw an old school friend at a local store several years ago. I initially walked right by him, did a double take, and walked back with a smile on my face and a hand reached out for a shake. We talked for a couple minutes ago, and as we reminisced, I felt a little uncomfortable. I kept wanting to ask him why he looked so old. I felt the question on the tip of my tongue, but my better judgment kept my query in check.

What did happen to him? Why did he look so old. The current year put him around 48 years old, but man did he ever look like he was sixty-five to me. I suppose one of the things that kept me from asking him the question was fear of what I looked like myself. With the oncoming gray hair these past twenty years, had I aged as much as he had? I know for sure that some days it felt like it.

By the way, that list of aches and pains at the beginning of this post isn’t real, or is it?

Oh how I wish I had the childish exuberance. I wish I had the hop in a younger step. I wish I had a tank full of energy, and a head full of the wonder of a boy. I suppose some days I still do think like a kid, after all, rarely a day goes by when I don’t pull up a memory or two from my childhood.

I remember a couple weeks ago. My son, grandson, wife and I headed down to the coast to celebrate a birthday. We stopped at Mount View high school in Knox, where there is a large playground. I slowly swung my cane side to side and strolled over to the swings and had a seat while I listened to my son and his son have a go at the yard full of equipment. As I sat and listened, it seemed only a short time ago that I was running after my son while he took in all the magic of a playground. I also remembered how short a time it felt that a young boy ran across a playground in Little Falls. Hands in the air, feet flying over the ground and a heart beating as fast as a heart can beat.

Can you tell what I’m thinking right now? I’ll give you a hint.

It includes some busted toes, a crooked nose and a big smile.

Thanks for stopping by, and have yourself a grand old night.

dp

 

2016 04 27 Poetry: Board Upon the Black April 27, 2016

Hello and good evening. This is April 27 and this is poem number 27. Holy crap, right?

Time sure does have a way of flying by when you’re having fun, and if you’re not having fun, don’t blame me.

Speaking of not having fun, have I told you how much I haven’t enjoyed using the college online classroom known as Black Board? I didn’t? Hmm.

This program is one of the hardest digital things I have ever done. It’s never the same two days in a row, and I’m beginning to think that’s got something to do with me. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Oh my Deon, how can that be?” Well, let me tell you, I don’t have a clue, so let’s continue.

I am in college, and I am on the verge of getting smarter. Notice I said, getting smarter, which means that for the most part, it ain’t happened yet. There’s plenty of time though, and time I got.

I just said basically the same thing in two different ways, didn’t I? Hmm.

Anyway, Black Board is a son of a program that doesn’t play favorites in any shape or form. It has everything you need, but it’s hid it all throughout the universe of digital dilemma. In other words, if it ain’t broke, log in and it soon will be.

Below you’ll find a poem I wrote that takes us on a journey through a day in the life of a goat trying to make heads or tails out of a program called; you guessed it, Black Board.

I hope this finds you all well, and if it doesn’t, it’s gotta be the shoes.

Take care, and I’ll see ya tomorrow.

dp

***

Board Upon the Black
A poem by DP Lyons

Oh great college Black Board in the sky,
I have brought you a single piece of chalk.
There are rumors that you haven’t any need of it though,
So I’ll inconspicuously save it for someone who’ll at least appreciate it.

Each day when I shuffle into your digital room,
I never know what my searching soul is going to find.
The accolades of higher education encircle your classroom walls,
But I can’t seem to find my way into the stupid building.

I have come, I have studied and I have tried to learn.
I have cursed my tab and arrow keys,
And I have pressed and held down my computer’s power button,
But you just don’t seem to give a flying freckle.

Your electronic phrases built upon zeroes and ones
Are some days like a riddled Gotham script.
I’ve asked your hall monitor for directions through your digital dream,
But by the glazed look in their eye, they must have been using an analog map.

I glance affectionately towards a far off distant plateau,
Where desires are quenched with a fountain of your knowledge.
I ask for strength to endure your mindful maze,
And hold high my praise to those who figured out this crap.

Oh Board upon the Black, ease my teachable soul.
Lend me your educating flame as a guiding torch.
Hear my questions, my curiosity, my plea,
To cool it a bit and cut me some frigging slack.

Thanks for nothing.

 

2016 04 20 Poetry: Cars April 20, 2016

I’ve driven a few miles in my day. Frost heaves, detour signs, unplowed roads, dirt roads, pot holes as far as the eye can see, it’s a lifetime of experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I figured out one day how many miles I have driven, and the best, roughest total I could come up with, determining the trips to Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Florida, Down East, to the mountains, to the coast, and all of the work miles, it all added up to around two and a half million miles. That’s a lot of driving, and that’s probably a pretty good reason why I don’t miss driving yet. I miss the independence, but I just don’t seem to miss it all that much. I suppose having my own private chauffeur makes the transition a little easier. Thank God for that.

Today is the 20th of April, and this is the 20th poem of the month. I have to admit that I’m cheating a little on this one, as I wrote the following poem three years ago. I always loved this one, so here you go.

If you drive, thank your lucky stars that you have the ability. If you don’t, be grateful whenever you get a ride. If you walk wherever you go, pay attention, because there’s a ton of crazies out there gripping the wheel like I used to.

Tell you the truth, I think I miss riding my John Deere lawnmower more than I do driving a car, or a truck.

And here we go. Have a great day, and don’t forget to buckle up.

dp

***

Car
A poem by DP Lyons

The wind whistles in through the barely open window.
the smattering of tires on wet pavement strains the concentration.
Frayed Windshield wipers sway back and forth like a gold pocket watch.
Restless fingers tap on a cracked dashboard.

Rear view mirror reflects a traveled past .
The radio tunes in and out of the oldies station.
A lone maple leaf clings to the wiper for dear life.
Three empty cans roll across the back seat floor mat.

A busted belt buckle lies empty across a torn vinyl seat .
The car turns sharply left while a hubcap quickly rolls right.
A tire jack in the trunk slams against a busted cooler.
The glove compartment door springs open, again.

The cup tray hangs straight down.
The volume knob for the radio falls off, again.
The right rear speaker rattles and vibrates as a song on the radio hits a low note.
The engine belt slips and squeaks, again.

The needle on the gas gauge reads one eighth of a tank.
The check engine light flickers on and off, again.
As the car turns sharply right, a warped cassette case slides across the dash to the left.
The jack in the trunk slams into the busted cooler, again.

She looks over at you and grabs your hand as you smile, wink and step on the gas.

 

2016 04 16 Poetry: Flowered Bag April 16, 2016

We all have things that peak our interest, right? Until our time here on earth is through, we go through periods in our lives where our infatuation with certain things, although perhaps trendy, grabs us and yanks us back and forth, until it has our complete attention, and believe me when I say that it’s our attention that it demands.

Creatures of habit, like me, grab a trendy piece of today and run with it for all it’s worth, that is, until the next doohickey comes along and jabs us in the ribs.

I suppose I have good reason for having such a short attention span sometimes, I mean, look at all those shiny things over there in the corner, next to that colorful whatever it is you call it. Gotta have it, desperately need it and can’t remember why I wanted it!

Oh my, oh my, oh my how easily we are persuaded some days.

It looks like I forgot to tell you thanks, and below you will find poem number 16 for the month of April, and yes, it’s still National Poetry Month.

The poem below is one that I just wrote, and if I may say so, I wrote it rather quickly. I think I mentioned before that I like the ones that jump onto the screen. It’s like they were, they are meant to happen.

And here you go!

Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you grab that next thing you gotta have and really have the best time with it.

After all, the next one’s waiting round the corner.

Be well, and take care.

dp

***

Flowered Bag
A poem by DP Lyons

She sits alone, quietly
With a nervous smile, she shyly throws a glance over his way.
Dropping her eyes to her fidgeting hands, she averts his curious gaze
She wonders why he’s smiling at her
His eyes quickly dart from her, to a squirrel outside in a tree
Her hand moves to her face as she coyly looks his way again
Catching her off guard, he throws his gaze her way once again
They have peaked each other’s interest
Focusing down at her side, she reaches into her flowered bag
She fumbles inside the bag for what seems an hour and a day
He tries not to stare at her
She turns her head and quickly catches his gaze once again
His eyes rapidly dart to his own nervous hands
She finally pulls something out of her colorful bag and cups it in her delicate hands
Looking out at the squirrel again, he rubs the side of his face
Their eyes meet one more time
Taking a deep breath, she looks down at the item in her hands
She slowly starts to make her way across towards him
He doesn’t know what to do
His eyes feverishly search out a route of escape
Taking a deep breath, he watches her approach
She smiles and moves along side him
Still clutching the item from her bag, she gently offers it to him
He looks from her hand, to her eyes, then smiles brightly
She takes a deep breath and speaks
“Dabba mumma num num bubda mumma!”
He scrunches his head down into his shoulders, and then giggles
Looking up at her, he reaches and takes the item from her hand
His eyes open wide, and then he too speaks
“Mum mum bubba num num!”
She rolls backwards on the carpeted floor and laughs out loud
Raising his eyebrows, he throws his hands up in the air, then points out at the squirrel
Her eyes open wide as she stares out at the frolicking animal
Their mothers look at each other, smile, then laugh out loud