Archive | August, 2015

Something Old, Something New, Some Things Missed

21 Aug

by Stella De Genova

I’m blind. I’ve had to come to terms with that. I’ve embraced it and honestly, I’m over it. It’s part of my daily life but it doesn’t define me and it’s not what I dwell on every minute of the day. I’m not a “total” but the best I can see, which is in good lighting and up close, is pretty damn blurry. I was never able to see in darkness so there are some things I always wished I could see but I can’t miss what I never had: things like being able to move around in a crowd to talk to people in a dimly lit room, or knowing what the eclectic food looks like on my plate in a romantic, candle-lit restaurant. I like to dance but I always wonder if I look out of place in the midst of others around me since I can’t tell what I’m doing compared to their latest dance moves. C’est la vie – these are things I never have and never will know.

But as I get older and a little more sentimental, I realize there are things I will miss. Yes, faces on TV are a blur and I need help purchasing clothing because I can’t see most colors or size and price tickets but that’s low on the priority list of concerns. What matters even more to me is that my daughter will be a beautiful bride next week and the details of her wedding gown are lost on me and watching her walk down the aisle and the expression on her face will be a blur to me. If I didn’t already know it’s my daughter, I wouldn’t be able to tell until she was right in front of me. I’ll also miss seeing the love in my son-in-law’s eyes when he sees her coming to stand next to him. And what of a grandchild or 2 in the future? I want to know their eyes and their smiles. And I already know I will miss reading storybooks to my grandkids in the way I loved to do with my kids when they were wide-eyed and eager to learn.

Ahh well, what good does it do to dwell on what we can’t have? Isn’t life more about the intangibles? Even if my eyes fail me, what’s real is in the heart. The upcoming wedding and future family will be a day and lifetime of love that can’t be physically seen but felt with every fiber in my body and soul. We will laugh and cry tears of joy and we will eat and dance until we are ready for sleep and our dreams will be of their beautiful future and our growing family. Saluti!

When Love Opened My Eyes

14 Aug

by Francesca Marinaro

A warm blanket of sunshine enveloped me; horse-drawn tourist carriages clip-clopped along the cobblestone streets. My boyfriend brushed away a strand of hair that the breeze had whipped across my face as we sat on a bench in the center of St. Augustine, Florida’s historic district, where we were spending spring break. As penniless graduate students, our options consisted of someplace within driving distance offering affordable hotel accommodation with free breakfast. I’d have spent the week on a slippery rock in the middle of the sea; the magic of a romantic getaway had, for me, always existed in novels and Hollywood rom-coms. If not for the warmth of Shaun’s arm across my shoulders, I might not have believed the dream had become a reality.

I lifted my head when the ring of church bells wafted toward us.

“Do you hear that? It must be coming from the cathedral.”

“Yeah, I think it is,” said Shaun, consulting his map. “Do you want to check it out?” I considered; my non-religious boyfriend had recently survived my best friend’s Catholic wedding, and I thought he’d served his penance.

“Only if you want to,” I said finally. We sat in companionable silence for several more minutes until Shaun reached for my hand.

“We should go. It’s your faith. It’s important to you. I get that.”

The church was empty save for the two of us.

“I should tell you what it looks like in here. There’s this old leather Bible—it looks really old—on the altar, with what looks like gold etched around the pages, and a crucifix of course. I think it’s made of wood, and it’s really intricately carved.”

I remember little of his actual description, but I can still feel the warmth of his touch as he held my hand, conjuring a picture of our surroundings as he whispered into the silence. I remember the prism of light filtering through the stained-glass window and dancing across our linked hands, and I marveled at how the simplest act could invoke such love. I loved Shaun in that moment not because he knew all of the words to the Donald Duck theme song or willingly sat through a viewing of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” I loved him for the way he held my hand and lent his voice to describing the world around me as easily as he talked to me about work or our respective dissertations, because my visual impairment was a part of, not a hindrance to our relationship.

The passage of two years and an eventual breakup have yet to dull this memory. It shimmers in my heart, an effervescent soap-bubble of hope. The challenges of dating with a disability are all-too familiar to many of us, but Shaun opened my eyes on that spring morning to a glaring truth that had often eluded me—in my moments of self-doubt—that I was, and am, worthy of being loved.

Francesca Marinaro was diagnosed with Lebers in her infancy and lost her usable vision as a teenager. She currently lives in Florida with her Yellow Lab guide dog, Zeus, and works as a freelance writer and teacher. Her writing has appeared in numerous online publications including Lifehack.org and the Living Blind Blog. You can visit her website at http://www.fmarinaro.com.

A Setback

8 Aug

by Andrea Kelton

Panhandlers on the “L”* raise my ire, not my compassion. One guy I encounter on the northbound Brown Line performs his tale of woe several afternoons a week. He sticks to his script. A few more rides on that train this week and I’ll hear it repeated so many times that I’ll be able to recite right along with him.

Yesterday, shortly after the south bound Red Line left Fullerton, a new voice interrupted my ride. “Good morning.” “My name is Darrell. I don’t mean to bother you, but could you spare a little change so I can get something to eat today?” As he moved through the car, his tone turned pathetic.   “Oh. Sorry. Excuse me. Is there something in my way?” He shuffled by and I saw his white cane. His rigid body moved through the El car like Frankenstein’s monster.

My blood pressure skyrocketed.

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the ADA. I’ve worked hard for more than forty years to adjust and adapt to my gradual, progressive vision loss and educate the folks that I may not be able to see well, but I am still very competent and quite capable. And here’s this guy (was he really blind?) playing up every blind stereotype gripping the sighted world with fear and sympathy.

Darrell was lucky that I was seated next to the window with people standing in front of me. If I’d been able to get hold of him, I’d either given him a piece of my mind or a whack with MY white cane for reversing our progress.

**The “L” is short for Loop, which is the elevated train system that loops around the original downtown area of Chicago, Illinois.

Andrea Kelton was diagnosed with uveitis in 1974. Today she lives in Chicago and teaches Adult Basic Education at Literacy Chicago. She attends a weekly memoir writing class, “Me, Myself and I” taught by author Beth Finke.