From the Author
This book germinated as a result of the many times people have asked me how I lost my sight. What can I say? People are curious. Whether I was speaking to a group of adults or telling stories to children, there was bound to be one person in the crowd bold enough to ask.
The first few years I could not answer them. I was still grieving and much too close to the events to stand on stage before hundreds of people and bare my soul. Time heals. My journey from sighted to blind has taught me many things about embracing change, even when it isn't the change you want.
Helen Keller made the point that the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. This book is as much about living the blind life as about changing one's perspective. It is about looking at what you have and figuring out what you can do with it.
Some people live in denial, which can be comfortable. For many years I lived in denial of my blindness. It worked for me while I silently grieved my loss. Denial had its time and place in my grieving process, but I learned I didn't need to live a life of denial. Thank God.
Standing still in life doesn't work for me. For twenty-four years, I've been living with blindness, but I haven't been living in the dark. I have noticed certain changes in my perspective. I began to see people, things and situations differently, accepting the challenges I faced with new vision...a true vision.
My inability to see others' facial expressions and body language really hit me hard. I recall participating in a storytelling class taught by Atlanta's beloved Chuck Larkin. he was a nationally known entertainer who generously mentored other storytellers. Chuck confirmed that two-thirds of communication is body language. The rest is inflection and words. This became of of the truths I told myself to break through the denial to live more fully: Fiona, you are now communicating with a third of the information you once had as a sighted person. At first, I was depending solely on words. It took a long time before I began to pick up on tone and pitch of voices or refine my other senses.
In the early years of being blind, I felt like I was pedaling hard and fast to stay connected to the world as I tried to interpret the one-third of what I could perceive. But the constant and intense concentration was wearing me out.
Oddly, I can hear much of what my sighted friends can't hear. In contrast, I am limited with what I hear at certain pitches. As I become older, soft voices are almost impossible to interpret. The good news is my ability to separate sounds, like in a noisy restaurant, has improved. Perhaps this illustrates a way my discernment is better.
My sister Sandra laughs at that statement. My family has long debated my need for a hearing aid. "Oh, I don't want to be blind and deaf!" That reminds me too much of our Labrador retriever who became blind, deaf, and unable to stand. I don't want to succumb to Trek's fate!
I have grown spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. You may think this book is about living with blindness. It's more about self-discovery in the face of adversity. Turn the pages and you will see these stories will enlighten and entertain you.
My hope, dear reader, is that this book connects with you...that it touches you at some deep level, perhaps with a laugh or a tear or even a reflection of yourself.