I have rolled this story over in my head many times. I have been deciding if it is worth sharing. In the end, I believe it has worth and relevance, especially for seniors wrestling with limitations in the body that once sprinted out of bed without a hitch. Other parts that have given way to aches and pains almost daily can baffle and amaze us (not always in a good way).
I began my day with determination. Now, if you ever knew me before my 70’s, you would know I have never owned a car. I have lived all my life in places where public transportation was accessible, even if you took three or four buses to work or wherever. It was not strange to see people run across icy or sunlit streets to catch a connecting bus. I kept a little money tucked away just so I could get a taxi home for big shopping trips, and that was only for the trip back with all the groceries. Otherwise, we walked, and that was just in Chicago. When I moved my family to Minnesota, it was just the same. We stood in sub-zero weather waiting for the bus that would take us to our respective places of employment and never gave t a second thought.
Since my fifties and into my late sixties, I have been blessed to live and work on-site in our 55-plus community. It was in an area convenient for walking to and from drugstores and grocery stores, and there are little strip malls with all kinds of places to buy cool stuff, pay utility bills and buy things you need from the Dollar Tree. I have walked and admittedly jay-walked a couple of times (not proud of that), but well into my sixties, I could still run, lead others in two exercise programs, and bound up and down stairs with the greatest of ease.
A few bouts with a long-standing health challenge in the last couple of years had threatened to snatch the bounce out of my steps, but I am if you know anything about me, I’m not a quitter. I’ve been a counselor, life coach, and advocate for many. I try to walk the talk at all times.
To add to my health stuff, my eyesight began doing silly things a few years ago. I did not tell anyone, and when I got to an eye doctor (I finally got insurance), he said my eyes were beyond repair. The good doctor did not put it that way, but he said I did not qualify for cataract surgery. Still, we would do eye injections and laser treatments, which were also inconclusive except for the out-of-pocket fees I had to pay twice a month for the foggy vision that seemed to progress each day.
I began looking into solutions keeping in mind that prayer still works. I hooked up with the Hadley School for the blind and low visional people like myself. I wrote to the Hadley folks, thanking them for having such a massive list of resources, then began sharing what I was learning with others, and then got the inspiration to make up packets to share with others who were feeling alone with vision loss and other “suddenly” stuff that falls upon seniors. The Hadley folks were impressed and made me their Hadley Hero for April, and the Star Tribune here in Minnesota did a story on me that came out in yesterday’s paper. I decided immediately to buy a few copies to out-of-town friends. Our Walgreen Drugstore is just across the street from my building, but how would I get there? It is a less than three-minute walk, and I’ve done that walk a hundred times. “I can do this,” I said and intentionally omitted my plans in conversations with my son. He is the one who chauffeurs me every place. I did not want him to take me right across the street. I was not going to allow the newspapers to be grabbed up. I was determined.
As life would have it, my son visited the night before and spent the night helping me get ready for an apartment inspection later this week. So I got up at the crack of dawn, pulled on my jeans, pushed my feet into my favorite pair of Skechers, dressed for 30-degree weather (Yes, it’s still cold here), and tiptoed past my sleeping on and trotted the block and a half gleefully. I was free! I made it!
Then I got to the corner of the big boulevard and realized my fading eyesight would not navigate the big street. My eyes blurred with tears, and frustration set in. That boulevard is bustling. Two residents from our building had been killed at that intersection, and here I was, without a dog or a cane (I do not own them). I stood there, bawling like a baby, watching the blur of cars zipping by, and then my cell phone rang. It was my son. “Just where are you?” he demanded. I tried to answer, but my weeping got in the way. When I finally could blubber out my location and what I was up to, he said, “I’m coming to get you”. So this was what it had come to. Why had I not known I could not cross that big street alone? Why was it so hard to submit to a bit of help?
When the black Impala pulled up to the curb, I opened the door and got inside. He made a U-turn and dropped me off in front of Walgreen’s. I went inside and picked up the last five copies of the Saturday edition. I bought a few small items and went to the counter. I wanted to tell the cashier that inside the paper was a story about my bravery and compassion for others as I was “losing my eyesight,” but it did not match with the scared and trembling mess I had been just a few moments before.
It took me all day to settle down, but not all day to thank God for giving me a son who always takes care of me. Even when he is exhausted and frustrated with the many stops I sometimes make. Many seniors do not get this help and sit alone in their apartments or houses, with only the meals on wheels, visiting nurses, or perhaps an aide to bring them company for a moment.
I am blessed to know how to use technology and can Zoom and reach out to people everywhere. Already I am receiving beautiful emails and comments on my Facebook page thanking me for the inspiration and encouragement.
Once again, God has blessed me to bless others. I am reminded of God’s instructions to Abraham while He was still Abram. Genesis 12:1-5 (NIV) I am so BLESSED, and my story is not over. God keeps opening doors and giving me more reasons to glorify His name. I may not be able to cross the street but God has built a beautiful bridge for me to meet and reach and teach and love and learn with others. How can I not be thankful?
Genesis 12:1-5 NIV
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Beautiful article. Hard stuff this aging business; I’m dealing with decline in many ways too. Helps to read what you’re going through and the all the feelings that get activated; you express it so well. I feel comforted by the truth you’ve shared.
Bows to you.?