She was vision impaired, almost blind for a long time before she told her family. We were amazed at how well she kept the secret. In hindsight I do remember small changes, but thought nothing of them at the time. Like the way she filled her cup with boiling water with her finger inside the cup – so she could feel when it was close to the top. Her hands were always busy, mostly out in front. Her glasses always in the same spot, the room always well lit with the lights on even on a bright summer day.
As she gradually lost her sight, she counted steps. The number of steps from the bed to the bathroom. The number of steps from the bedroom to the kitchen, touching the doorways and chairs as she made her way, seemingly able to see where she was going. She knew her recipes by heart, her books had been lost in a house fire a few years before. Sometimes the cooking didn’t quite taste right as the sugar and flour jars had been mixed in the pantry but those sons of hers ate them anyway.
There came a time when she had to break the news, she could not continue with everyday activities and it was becoming obvious to those close to her something was amiss. I think she missed being able to read the most. She was an avid reader, sometimes staying up to 3 or 4 am to finish a book. She loved her sewing and other crafts and I am sure her frustrations increased as her sight declined.
We helped her adapt. With the wonderful support and knowledge from the Guide Dogs Association. She learnt to walk with a cane, though it was something she tried not to used unless she was in a crowd or places she did not know.
Her love of books came through audiobooks. We scoured bookshops and libraries looking for new titles to fire her mind and imagination. She still sewed – my sewing machine still has the piece of Velcro glued to one side which was her guide to sewing straight. She hated cloudy days as the world blurred into nothing.
And she never ever gave up. To many they would not have known her impairment.
My mother-in-law’s grit and determination was an inspiration to us all.
Day 8 of the Advent Calendar for Making a Difference is dedicated to the Guide Dog organisation. Many of us would immediately think of those cute Labrador pups that are selected to be trained in a life of service, however Guide Dogs does so much more.
According to their website these services include:
- “Training people to use canes, canines and electronic aids to improve their mobility and thus their independence and quality of life
- Training companion dogs for children and adults who are disabled or disadvantaged owing to age, isolation or ill health
- Advocating on behalf of the people we assist to make the community an easier place in which to live and work”
We saw first hand how they assisted Enid in making the transition to blindness that much easier – from walking with a cane to talking clocks to help her know what time it was, particularly on a grey day. From suggestions so that she could enjoy her hobbies to how best to layout the house to prevent stumbles and falls. The support of the Guide Dogs was valuable to Enid in her later years without sight. I know there are many more that use and need the services this organisation provides.
There are some gifts you can purchase from their online store as well – your donation will be much appreciated, and make a huge difference in someone’s life.