Surviving

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

2017 07 04: Journal Excerpt Page 44 July 4, 2017

That winter of 2012 introduced me to another group of people, but some were the same that I had met at the 2011 ACB fall convention. This new group of amazement made up the Blind Bowlers of Central Maine, and as a new found family collectively made their way towards me, a new sense of belonging found its way into my life.

 

I was petrified at the first thought of trying to bowl blind, and at first I thought it was a joke, I mean, how can someone who is blind, bowl? It just didn’t make sense to me, so I just sort of shrugged it off as a chance to get to know some new people, one of whom was a fellow by the name of Rolfe Frost.

 

I had met Rolfe back in the spring of 2011, when he gave me a ride home from the employment assessment testing I had done at the Career Center in Augusta. Leona had set me up for the testing, and Rolfe gave me a ride home. We instantly struck up a nice conversation that lasted the whole trip back home, and for me, there was something about this guy that put me at ease, and allowed me to feel completely comfortable as we chatted it up.

 

Rolfe is, well, it’s hard for me to find words to correctly describe him. He has a heart of gold, and I am blessed to have met him, along with this new family of visually impaired people, and many, many more.

 

Blind Bowlers of Maine. It sounded really weird back then at first, but as time went by, it took on a whole new meaning for me. As the Saturday event became something that I looked forward to, I realized that I was slowly becoming one of them, one of the Blind Bowlers. I had found an incredible place where I fit in. I had found a group of people that I had something in common with. I became a Blind Bowler, and it felt comfortably normal.

 

Now I have to tell you that through my life, I was a ferociously competitive candlepin bowler. The first time I picked up a ball and rolled it down the alley, I was hooked, and I instantly became good at it. From an early age, I waited for the chance to step onto the hardwood lanes and slide towards the black line, releasing the ball. As it made that sweet, unmistakeable sound of rolling down the aisle, it hypnotized me until it crashed through the pins. That crashing sound, that explosion of pin action was the most beautiful sound in the world to me, and I just couldn’t get enough.

 

The years went by, and the trophies piled up. Our whole family was very competitive, and we all loved to bowl. My sister Terri was the best of our clan, and I was always chasing her abilities.

 

Anyway, the first time I stepped onto the lanes being visually impaired, bowling took on a new meaning for me. The hardest thing for me was the feeling of embarrassment. The humility, the pride that I had to swallow was one of the hardest things I have ever done.I went from a championship bowler, to a blind bowler in the blink of a blind eye, and as another part of my past stood beside me, I tied my bowling shoes, stepped onto the lanes, fumbled for a ball, stepped awkwardly three times towards where I thought the black line was, and quickly rolled a speedy gutter ball.

 

Did I mention how I cringed? Did I mention the pang of pain that ran down through me? Did I mention the smile that slowly crept across my face as I stepped back and tried to find another ball? How about the fact that shortly thereafter I rolled another gutter ball?

 

Those trips down to Augusta during the winter months became one of the highlights of my life. I grew very fond of sitting at the tables near the scorer’s desk, and just listening to the sounds. The crashing of the pins, the gutter balls, the camaraderie, it all took me back to the reasons why I loved to bowl. A complete package of time, wrapped in friendship, family and fun.

 

I thank you Mr. Frost for your friendship, your dedication and for your kindness of heart.

 

Well the winter rolled on, and so did my O&M lessons with Rosemary. Trudging through the snow with a white cane sweeping in front of me wasn’t my idea of having fun, but what an amazing opportunity to gather in my senses. The sounds of winter crunching under my feet was an experience like no other I had ever been through. A white cane in front of me, a pretty lady ten steps behind me, an intimidating world wrapped tightly around me, it all led me towards my future, and although it seemed dull and hazy, it brought certain things towards me that I never knew existed.

 

There were many aspects of winter mobility that changed my perceptions. The snow had very sneaky characteristics that I soon found very annoying, and as the tip of my cane packed full of snow and ice, my worries and fears of the unknown were met head on by an unrelenting show of force by Her Magesty, Mother Nature.

 

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…

 

2015 04 27 Poetry: Cane April 27, 2015

Three days left in the month of April. This is my 27th post in a row in honor of National Poetry Month, and I welcome you, one and all.

I do write a lot of poetry. I guess I enjoy the rhythm of it all. The movement of the scripted verse, the melody of the lines, the poetic chorus that takes shape with each word. It’s a form of music for me, and if you know me, you know that I completely adore music.

I tend to write alot about my vision loss. It’s been five years, and some of my best growth during this time has come in the form of writing. It has allowed me to climb inside my head and pull out some amazing pieces of writing that, well, honestly I have a hard time believing that I wrote. I’ve written short stories, essays, poetry, emails, all about losing my vision. A day doesn’t go by that I wish I never lost my sight, but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t feel thankful that I am still able to take part in one of my passions. Writing.

Being blind comes with a ton of experiences. It comes with extreme highs and deep pounding lows. It leaves me searching through my mind for clues to help me make it through the day, and it helps me build an imagination that is second to none. I see what I imagine, and I imagine what I see.

The following post was written a couple years ago, and it plays a major role in trying to capture some of the emotions that I feel, to this day. It is poetry, and it was written by a searching, competent man, who just happens to be blind.

Thanks for dropping by, and have a wonderful rest of your day.

Deon

***

Cane

Trust is a five letter word that fumbles across my lips.
It’s tone is simple enough, yet it’s uncomplicated meaning eludes me.
Helplessly fearing where I tread seems more appropriate, and complacently calm.
Unseen roads haunt the soul of the sightless spirit.
With a soothing touch, the white cane opens the eyes of my mind.
Seeing with the stick is such an unfamiliar complexity that eludes normal past logic.
The fear is instilled deep and hidden from those who care to look.
Dreaming through a frightening shadow, I see what I hear, what I smell and touch.
I now can dream of what used to be unseen.
Visions appear through a slumbered sight.
The dream unfolds as the day unwinds.
The brightness remains unclear, as the warmth falls down upon me.
I reach for your vision.
I grasp at your sweeping voice.
Touch all that remains hidden from view, and lift me up to see.
Carry me on your shoulders, and help me over the obstacles in my journey.
A world never before seen, comes to life through the cane.
Bring the shadows to me.
Help me feel the road ahead.
Guide me through the darkened path.
Light the twists and turns that lay ahead.
Remember me as the one who trusts.
Remember me as one who learns.
Remember me and lead me home.
Teach me and I will learn.
Speak to me and I will hear.
Show me and I will see.
Guide me and I will follow.
Help me up, and I will trust in you.
My mind understands what my soul feels.
My heart embraces what my fear cannot.
My drive lights the heart of the frightened child within.
Caress the pained dawns and brush the color back into my smile.
Sorrow and pity have no place in my scripted stage.
Raise the curtain and shine the stage lights on the encored events that place their hands upon my shoulders.
Lead me, guide me, direct me, show me, and tell me I will be ok.
If I learn to trust, the belief will follow.
The belief in me will follow the cane.