Tales from the Wet Side: Part 5 Not Afraid

Why I’m not afraid to be blind by Jennifer Poole

Please don’t get me wrong, I am going to do everything in my power to overcome Macular Degeneration. I think losing my vision would be one of the worst things to happen to me. I need my eyes for all the things I like to do, and the things that I’m good at doing. And like so many of us, I simply must continue to see the faces of my loved ones. I must. However, if I ever become visually impaired enough to be legally blind, I am not afraid.

I have several excellent role models to teach me that life doesn’t end with disability. When it comes to blindness, I look to my Grandpa. At 10 years old, young Peter was hanging out with his friends in a field near a construction site for a new factory. They came upon a metal box, shaped like a suitcase with a big lock on the front. Dying of curiosity, first one boy, then another tried without success to open the box. They started taking it in turns to throw it against the concrete to bust it open. When it was Peter’s turn, the dynamite that was stored inside exploded, completely damaging one eye and blinding him in the other eye. He could only see shades of light and dark in his one remaining eye.

My Grandpa used to take my brother and me down to the grocery store to buy food for my Grandma, who was usually cooking. We crossed the street, entered the store and did business there, without ever considering that he couldn’t see.  As a small child, I felt confident that a capable adult was with us, and would keep us safe crossing roads and greeting people as we went by. He would spend time with us in the garden, teaching us how to know that the cucumbers were ripe and ready for picking, and that fresh dill is one of the best smells on the planet. He taught us about baseball, which he listened to on summer nights on the radio. And like a magic trick, he could pull money out of his pocket to give us, never really understanding the tricks he used to differentiate the bills and coins.

My Grandpa had a full life, a wife, a job, a home and three daughters. He struggled more than the average person, I can see that now that I am an adult myself. He knew me by voice and often caressed my face. To us, he was never ‘not able’, and he loved us as much as a grandfather ever could. I pray that I never need to face that hardship, and I pray everyone affected by macular degeneration can reap the benefits of treatments and cures in the future.

But if I do go blind, I will not be afraid. I will live. I will live like he did.

Next: Ticking clock

Previous: Tales from the Wet Side: Part 4 The Future’s So Bright

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