Growing up with a blind mom has definitely grown me as a person. Some would say you need to grow up faster, but they don’t see how you learn to see the world with bigger perspective. From a young age I had to consider someone else – not just so I seemed like a nice person – but so that we could function as a family.
It is true that there were moments when I did not want to understand why some basic chores or outings were too stressful, but overall I find myself possessing an ability to ‘see the big picture’ beyond the immediate circumstance that has helped me throughout life considerably.
Mom is also an amazing person. Her joy and ability to draw on the sweetness of life despite her sight has also taught me to find the good in every situation.
As a musician I also believe that I inherited Mom’s heightened sense of hearing as well. From a young age I was able to perceive so much more through sound – whether this is genetically possible or just learnt at a young age, I understand the importance of aural communication and expression. Because mom couldn’t just see how I was feeling, I have learnt to value communication – whether verbal or musical. This has developed into what I believe will be a lifelong passion.
To be honest, I never really found anything about blindness very funny.
What I have enjoyed, however, is how Mom is still her defiant self and pulls off tasks even fully sighted people wouldn’t do.
I remember coming home from school one day and it was very quiet. After about 20 minutes of peace, I heard Mom shouting from the back garden.
I headed back to find her manually sawing down a row of 3-meter tall trees (in our neighbour’s garden!) all by her self.
The first thing she said was, “Don’t tell your father”, although it was obviously going to be noticeable that there was no longer a forest hanging over our wall!
In the end I had to help saw and carry away debris before Dad got home.
I love Mom’s spontaneity and her ‘just do it’ attitude.
As the eldest child, I do think that I shouldered too much responsibility for our family’s emotional state. I saw my sister struggling without her mother able to see the expressions on her face to know something was wrong.
I also saw the strain my father took to support the family in every way possible, while dealing with Mom who didn’t want special treatment.
But the biggest pain was watching my Mom ‘fight’ her physical disability – trying to be normal and independent, but buckling under the pressure she placed on herself.
Mom is a fighter – an extremely inspiring, relentless and brave one at that. But when Mom ‘wins’ her fight, things are just normal. There is no real reward for it. It is very easy to take her victories for granted.
When she ‘loses’, however, it is very hard to watch. It is hard to see your Mom beat herself up over expectations that she has placed on herself. Independence was the prize for Mom for such a long time, but thankfully she has sought help and is learning to be more gentle on herself.