Due to low vision, I have never been allowed to drive. But I am a driven person in more ways than one. (I can drive my family round the bend in an instant and drive myself crazy with frustration at times!)
At every opportunity I love to steer things with wheels …like the wheelbarrow, the lawnmower, trolleys (riding down the ramp after shopping) and I even had the thrill of parking a set of portable steps in front of an upstairs gate today. I don’t know why it gives me such a kick to steer- except that I love being in control.
I admit that I am sometimes a terrible back-seat driver (even though I cannot see well). This got me thinking about the waste of energy it is to be uptight about something one has no control over. So, I have decided to become a peaceful passenger.
Let’s see how strong my will is!?
Oh family rejoice!
I love my iPhone, especially the speech to text function as well as Siri – the built in personal secretary who responds to voice commands. Siri and I have had some interesting misunderstandings. I asked her to save a contact of a friend with the surname Christoffels and she wrote down something similar. I just left the mistake for the fun value, so if I need to call him I ask her to dial ‘Mr Chris tonsils’.
I have adjusted Siri to an Australian accent as it is more compatible to my South African Accent than the British or American English. There are however, some sounds where she and I are on different wavelengths. I was out with a new friend and I needed to call our domestic worker. She is a joyful, honest and reliable ‘angel’ who does miracles in our house on a weekly basis – but she insists on pronouncing her name “Regina” with a long ‘I’ (eye) sound. When I asked Siri to call Regina Lama she said, in her polite Australian accent, “Sorry, but I cannot find Vagina Drama in your contacts”. Needless to say we collapsed laughing and the friendship was bounced to another level.
Who says that having low vision cannot be fun?
Here is the next in the series on how disability affects a family.
As a spouse who cares for my visually disadvantaged, yet extremely courageous partially sighted wife, I have found, like other carers, that we are often gifted with a degree of compassion, and a capacity to see needs and wants being met, but there is often a downside that can really complicate matters. You see, as a compassionate carer, we tend to start finding our self worth in how we care, and how effective we are in foreseeing needs and fixing them. This will eventually create an emotional fusion and dependence that can become destructive and unkind. The reality is that my wife faces daily challenges and has needs that she must take responsibility for, as do I. While my help may be spot on sometimes, there are other times that it is sorely unhelpful and misguided, and if my self-image is linked to her response you can imagine the dark dungeon I find myself in. So as a carer, I have had to be very real about my limitations, wants, and own personal needs. Maybe those we care for are far better gifted to love us, than we are sometimes able to love them – we need to be as open with our needs as their circumstances reveal theirs.
I want to raise a “Hoorah” for the spouses of us semi-sighted citizens.
Often the culturally acceptable norms get challenged by the needs of the disability of either spouse. For example, I feel special when my husband opens the door and…he walks through it before me Changes in light often leave me totally blind for nearly a minute as my eyes adjust slowly to the new lighting. Walking in behind him allows advanced warning of steps, thick pile mats or turnstiles.
What seems like bad manners to others is actually a blessing. We have finally given up the South African ‘girl dishes up food for the boy’ thing and now we both feel more relaxed – he can choose what, and how much, to eat and there is less chance of him getting cheese sauce on his apple pie, instead of custard, and I know that I will get choice selected food ,and not just the garnishing’s!
He has ditched many gender role norms with courage and gusto and has fully embraced the skills of toenail painting, hair dying, needle threading, picking up dropped knitting stitches and expertly removing excess mascara from the eyelids. He has conquered the unexpected trips to the local shop for girl products and is expertly unphased by scrounging through the women’s underwear department for the appropriate sizes.
I am so grateful that I married a non-self conscious man and would like to cheer on all spouses of impaired function sufferers. God knows what you do for us.