Helping Hand

7 Oct

by Jeff Flodin

I tell the paratransit driver to take me to the west entrance.  When I get out and start feeling around, he asks me what’s wrong.  ”I can’t find the west door,” I say. He tells me, no wonder, the west door’s somewhere else.  “Idiot,” I mutter.  “Another idiot.”

I ask the old guy manning the information desk how to get to the west wing. He tells me to take a right.  So I take a right and he says no, that he meant left.  And I think, “Mister, I’ve got a dog here who knows left from right.”

An old lady volunteers to lead me wherever I need to go.  She takes my hand and I’m all set to tell her that’s not the way to guide a blind person, that I take her elbow instead.  Then the hand she’s put in mine starts to flutter.  Her hand is like that little bird, that little bird lying there, just bone and trembling, after it hit the window. So I hold her hand in mine and we walk.  She offers small talk about my dog and about her sweet dog from long ago and all the while her hand is fluttering with Parkinsons but she doesn’t talk about that.

We find the elevator and she gets right in with me.  And she holds her one hand steady with the other so she can press the right button. Then she takes my hand again, like I might get lost in there.  And I’m ready to tell her there’s no need, but I feel there is.  We stand silent as the elevator rises to the top floor.  And all the way, her hand trembles inside mine, flutters like a little bird trying to escape.

Jeff Flodin is a writer.  He has been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa for 30 years.  Jeff’s bi-weekly blog, “Jalapenos in the Oatmeal: Digesting Vision Loss,” is posted at Second Sense – beyond vision loss’s (f/k/a The Guild for the Blind) website (  Read more about Jeff on the Statement page of this site.


One Response to “Helping Hand”

  1. Thara Nagarajan October 7, 2012 at 10:01 PM #

    Jeff, this is a beautiful piece. I found it moving. Thanks for writing!

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