No Face in the Mirror

11 Aug

by Marcia J. Wick

Stumbling over my guide dog, I make my way to the bathroom getting ready to meet a new day. But I cannot see how I will greet the day, even though I am standing in front of the mirror. The reflection of my face in the mirror is disappearing due to my progressive vision loss.

Whether I start my day feeling like death warmed over, or I wake refreshed and ready to put my best face forward, it is the same reflection I see. Soft and fuzzy at the edges. Clouds and vapor off which the light bounces and flickers. Pixilated glimpses at a part of my nose and expressionless orbits for eyes. No use worrying about plucking my eyebrows or checking for blemishes.

Although my days are dimming, there is a silver lining. Not seeing how I look in the mirror presents an unexpected opportunity for me to use my mind’s eye.  I tell myself, “You look great!” My fading image forces me to let go of judgments I might heap upon myself if I could actually make out my finer features.

My progressive vision loss helps to keep my steady aging process at bay, at least as far as I can see! Staring ahead while brushing my teeth, I do not discern the crow’s feet seeking permanent residency at the outside corners of my mouth and eyes, nor can I perceive the pervasive grey masking my former dark brown hair color. If I squint, I can almost imagine myself as a blond bombshell.

When the face looking back at you from the mirror disappears, you have the chance to imagine yourself in a new way. If you frown at the bathroom mirror first thing in the morning, you might lock in a picture of how you will look to others during the course of your day.

There is an advantage to not judging yourself by how you appear in a mirror day after day. If you have some vision, consider taping a picture of someone else’s face at just the right size and height to block out your own image. Look at you! You look as great as Wonder Woman Linda Carter or Clark Kent as Superman! Your eyes are bright and your hair and brows are trim. Your teeth could not look more brilliant, and your neck is tucked firmly out of sight under your chin.

You look great! You feel great! You smile! When you lose sight of your own face in the mirror, you can imagine Sophia Loren or someone rich, powerful and influential. I promise you will feel happier and more confident about facing the day when you fancy a new face in the mirror.

Marcia Wick is enjoying new adventures with her first guide dog, Viviane, a 60-pound yellow lab from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Marcia is legally blind due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Recently retired, her career included newspaper reporting, public relations, communications and publishing.  With two daughters now grown and a grandson, Marcia is returning to her writing roots in partnership with her sister, Jennifer Walford, as The Write Sisters. She also advocates for public transit, the Visually Impaired and Blind Skiers , and currently serves on the GDB Alumni Association Board of Directors.  Marcia lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and Viviane.

Tribute to Tania

3 Aug

by Terri Winaught

I wish I could have known you, baby girl: born in a decade of challenge, change, pain and promise.

I wish I would have known you when your voice became a harp that enchanted listeners, soared to the sky like a robin and sang the sun to sleep.

If I would have known you when cancer began stealing so much like the cowardly, cruel thief that it is, I would have shaved my head if that would have helped you feel less alone and different.

When I get to meet you, I’ll have so much to tell you.

I’ll tell you how happy I was to meet your father after 50 years of waiting and wanting.

I’ll tell you what a warm, welcoming and gentle woman your mother is.

I’ll tell you that your daughter is such a precious, priceless gift that your soul must have sung lullabies of love when you first saw her.

I know I’ll get to meet you when the fevered pitch of my earthly life is done, and I’m called to my eternal home.

With eyes that will see for the first time, I’ll survey the features that make you special; embrace you, Tania, as if I’ve always known you, and our dancing feet will create works of beauty.

When trumpets blare along gold-paved streets, we’ll know that our tears have turned into rejoicing, and life is now complete!

 

Terri Winaught was born March 13th, 1953 in Philadelphia, PA.  Being born three months prematurely is what caused her blindness, which is total except for some light perception in her left eye. She loves her work at a local mental-health facility.  She enjoys writing, singing, going out with friends, and listening to soul music from the 1960’s, especially that of Garnet Mimms, whose daughter her poem is about.

Freedom

27 Jul

by Charlie Tarantola

I swing the leather saddle onto his back. My cane is in the barn’s office, tucked away hidden. This to me is somewhat freeing. The smell of horses, and hay are around me. Heavy leather boots on my feet. A helmet is on my head for safety, so I don’t lose another chunk of my precious vision, or worse.

I walk him slowly into the ring, and to the mounting block. I get on quickly, ask him to walk on.

When he does, I breathe in heavy, I don’t have to worry about walking into something tripping or even where I am in space, I am free from the burden of my blindness, free from the worry.

I ask him to canter. I am flying, I can hear his smooth three beat gait, over everything else. And then I open my eyes, and see his bright red chestnut neck, I pat it, and mutter good boy Leo.

Charlie Tarantola has been somewhere in between sighted and blind all of his life. Cortical blindness changed that. Growing up, he was taught to be strong, be brave, and be hopeful. He was lucky enough to have relatives who showed him being blind doesn’t mean your life ends

Just As the Ocean Does

13 Jul

by Sharon Tewksbury

The ocean rolled,

The boat swaying with its perpetual rhythm.

We stood on the deck,

The night was unsullied.

I remember

you looking out to sea,

And I was listening to the sounds of the ferry’s motor

And the ocean

Slapping against the sides of the boat

 

Did the moon dance on the water?

I don’t remember,

But I felt you beside me,

And you described,

lights coming from all directions.

And you loved the dolphins,

Playing by the ship.

 

We listened to the gulls,

Circling overhead,

Hoping we had one last crumb of food they could eat.

I still remember the ferry’s horn, deep and loud,

The salty air hitting my nostrils,

We laughing at the spray hitting our faces,

I remember my sighs of gratitude,

because the pleasure of that trip,

Was so simple.

And we didn’t care,

That the Galveston water was dirty.

 

And now it seems like a lifetime ago,

And things have changed,

Babies will soon be born,

Loved ones have been taken away,

But your memory will always live on,

Just as the ocean does.

 

Sharon Tewksbury, was born blind in the early fifties. She had cataracts before birth, was born prematurely and was in an incubator for eight weeks. Oxygen and bright lights made what vision she had leave at an expedient rate. This poem was written to share that although some sighted folks might think the blind have missed out, nothing could be further from the truth.

Fixing the Bathroom Door

30 Jun

by Nancy Scott

It started with my maintenance request. Roger showed up to caulk bathroom tile and check the toilet flush mechanism.

As we stood there after he finished those tasks, I laughingly said, “You have to see what this door does. Of course, I caused it myself. The door was screeching like a spooky movie and I couldn’t stand it. So I sprayed the hinges with WD-40. The screeching stopped, but watch what happens now.”

I moved the bathroom door from full open to a little more closed. And the door, by itself, very slowly continued to move all the way shut.

Roger laughed. He said, “It’s like a little ghost is moving it.”

That was the perfect description.

“But I can’t find a good position to make the shower steam escape,” I complained. “And when the door does manage the perfect openness, I forget, get out of the shower and promptly hit my head on it.”

Roger has a blind relative. And he’s used to me, so he laughed some more. I did, too.

“I might be able to fix it,” he chuckled and went to his toolbox. I think he brought a hammer. He reached up and banged three times. He said, “There. I tightened the hinges you loosened. Try it now.”

And it worked. Perfectly. No matter where I angled the door, it stayed put. Wonderful. Glorious!

This was an unexpected, immediate benefit only for me. It made me have just a little more faith in my fellow man. It made us both more in love with the world for a few moments. It was easy and it will be helpful for a long time. Everything hinges on other things.

Sometimes good happens in just that way— a task, a conversation, an opportunity, a tool and some knowledge to use it, and a long-term outcome. Life, and writing, are often like that.

Nancy Scott’s over 650 essays and poems have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, and as audio commentaries. She has a new chapbook, The Almost Abecedarian (on Amazon), and won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Braille Forum, Disabilities Studies Quarterly, Philadelphia Stories, and Wordgathering.

Though I’ve Never Seen

20 Jun

by Sharon Tewksbury

I’ve never seen snowflakes or sleet,

I’ve never seen a baby sleep,

I’ve never seen a sky of blue,

Or saw a rose kissed by the dew.

But I’ve heard the robin’s song so gay,

I’ve heard a baby laugh at play,

I’ve touched a rose I’ve smelled the dew,

I’ve touched soft grass, smelled spring rain too.

I’ve never seen the clouds of white,

Nor saw the moon or starry light,

But I’ve sat in autumn’s sacred night,

And heard the geese in chevron flight.

I’ve never seen an eagle soar,

But I’ve stood and heard the ocean’s roar,

I’ve felt its trade winds on my face,

Tasted its salt, and felt its sprays.

I’ve never seen a morning dawn,

Or the colors of a sunset gone,

But I’ve felt the sun, heard dawn birds sing,

Heard evening crickets in early spring,

My friends, I’ve lived just like a queen,

Even though I have never seen.

 

Sharon Tewksbury, was born blind in the early fifties. She had cataracts before birth, was born prematurely and was in an incubator for eight weeks. Oxygen and bright lights made what vision she had leave at an expedient rate. This poem was written to share that although some sighted folks might think the blind have missed out, nothing could be further from the truth.

Seeing Red

7 Jun

by Stella De Genova

Imagine a world of blurred and sometimes abstract images. Imagine looking up and seeing a blue sky and beneath it, gray buildings and foliage and silhouettes of people.  There is subtlety of color but is it green or brown or is it purple or blue?  And when the light dims – well, let’s just say all bets are off.  I’m never sure enough of colors anymore to be able to pick and buy my own clothing in a store.

And then something catches my eye: a red apple, a red cayenne pepper, a red flower, a red convertible. It’s almost like an artistic twist in a Benini film.  What a stroke of luck for me!  No, not the part that I have RP (retinitis pigmentosa) and this is what I see daily but the fact that red has always been a favorite color of mine and now, along with the bright blue sky on a sunny day, this is the color that consistently pops out for me.

It’s weird the way life works. We can all think about what we’ve lost in life but let’s be honest, a person can only dwell on loss for so long.  Could be we’re in a better place when we move past the loss and cherish what we do have.  Trust me, there’s someone out there who has less than you or me.

Personally, I choose to see red today and I have no complaints about that!

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