Tribute to My Mother

A tribute to my mother appears in the last chapter of my recently published book, Insight Out, One Blind Woman’s View of Her life. Here are some excerpts rom that chapter.

Etta Regina Hagen Oliver Wilson

And now we come to my mother, the most influential woman in my life.…

I’m grateful for the education and lessons in life my mother gave me.

In her role as mother, Regina Wilson led a regimented life as an example to her children and as a model wife of the 1940s, ‘50s, and on until her widowhood and eventual death. She strove to be the perfect housekeeper and the most attentive parent in the universe. …….

I am so grateful to her for doing something that had to be very hard for her.

She allowed me and even encouraged me to be as independent as I wanted. She helped me assemble a wardrobe for college, helped me pack all my records and other essentials for college life, and then helped me move into my dorm at Ohio State, a hundred miles from home. When I think of how hard it must have been to send her visually impaired daughter off to college with a white cane and a little trepidation, I suspect she shed a few tears on the drive home while my dad held his tears back. I applaud their bravery and trust to let me go.

I always wanted to emulate Aunt Lynn, and in some ways, I still do. But the truth is, I am the next generation of my mother. I have a plaque that reads, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.”

I don’t pretend to have lived up to her standards, to have matched her IQ, or to have the strength and tenacity to endure the kind of hardships she had throughout her life, but I do recognize that I am my mother’s daughter in many ways.

When my brother, Dick, my mother’s son from her first marriage, was killed in a car crash, I was 19. He lived in Sarasota with his wife and her little girl. They were expecting a baby in about a month. I had come to spend the summer with them, but I quickly grew up in one night. When the adults in the room were discussing who was going to call our mother, I immediately spoke up and declared that I should be the one. It was without doubt the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But here again, it was what my mother would have done.

Without thinking about it, I have incorporated the philosophies and the legacies handed down to me from all the women in my life. I hope these legacies will be carried on through the branches of our family tree….

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir


Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at

Changes in my World

/If you’re like me, you’re sick of the news on radio and TV. It’s like picking at a sore. In today’s post, however, I’d like to think about the positive changes we are optimistically expecting.

As I chat with friends on the phone, something I never used to do, I’m finding that we’re all scared but keeping busy with creative ways to cope and to keep in virtual touch. Hardly anyone is bored, including me.

In this technology age, I’m finding that while it’s great to have the ability to meet in groups safely on line, there’s nothing like being in the same room with your friends and colleagues. I didn’t realize how much I miss talking face to face with someone. Somehow, it validates me as a human, not just a video image and a voice coming from a screen. I hope that we’ll all still value our face to face relationships even when this pandemic is behind us.

today, families are looking up from their phones and noticing the people stuck in the house with them. They are taking bike rides together and walks, being careful to stay clear of other people doing the same.

People are cleaning out closets and basements and sprucing up their yards. Because I haven’t been able to have a cleaning person, I’ve tried to keep up with the dirt, dog hair, and germs, like I haven’t done in years. I’m discovering that I like going to bed at night with a sparkling clean sink in the kitchen and in the bathroom every night. I’m also finding that I’m cleaning for my own pleasure, not just at those times when I’m expecting company.

I’ve heard that people are returning to cooking instead of just grabbing a meal from the freezer. Me too. It’s comforting to have real food on the table for a change.

Many people, like writers, are getting tons of work done. Unfortunately, my mental energy has been sapped by trying to learn a new computer and a new speech program at the same time, so my writing anything but this blog and Face Book posts has been on hold. But this has been the right time to study the computer, since, as I said before, I have all day.

My daughter calls me every night to check on my health, both physical and emotional, and that’s a plus. In normal times, she calls once a week, but would it be greedy of me to hope this will be the new normal? My son calls me now and then, which is also an improvement. Mother’s Day is coming up, and he always takes me out for a meal for the occasion, so I’ll be looking forward to how creative he can get this year. Creativity in problem-solving has emerged, and I like it.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir


Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at

Who is That Masked Woman?


It’s the latest trend in fashion! Hurry. Find a friend who will make one for you. This one came from Nonie, a friend in my Sunday School class. She was wearing her own mask when she delivered mine to me today. It goes so well with my long overdue haircut and the ubiquitous sweats.

My granddaughter, who’s 6, has masks for all her teddy bears. When she plays Barbies, she has them all keep their social distance from one another. When she was playing restaurant, she announced, “Sorry. We only have take-out, because of the Coronavirus. And when her older sister agreed to play dolls with her, she told her sister that one of the dolls was dubbed the “mean” doll.

“And why is she mean?” the teenaged sister asked.

“Because the mean one has the Coronavirus and didn’t tell anybody, and now all her friends are sick.”

Of course we can’t condone calling a victim of Covid 19 “mean,” but that little girl is certainly aware of a unique time in our history.

I’m very proud of the way my kids and grandkids are following the rules and obeying the smarter people in our government who urge us to shelter in place.

I have been in my house 23 hours a day since March 14. The one hour is spent taking Dora for a walk around the neighborhood. I have my groceries delivered, and I’ve ordered a few things from Amazon. I’ve attended meetings via Zoom and conference calls. I have called friends on the phone just to chat, and I don’t worry that I’m keeping them from something more pressing. They have all day, just as I do.

I shall wear my new mask and alternate it with another one that my daughter ordered for me. As people in other states, whose governors have lifted restrictions to the dangerous point, return to Ohio for the summer, they’ll be bringing the virus with them, even though they may only be carriers. They are not mean. But I am going to keep my distance, even from my friends and wear my mask, knowing I’m doing

everything possible to be safe. Are you with me?

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir


Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at

Hunker Down and Wait

We are at war. I never dreamed that in my lifetime, I would be saying that from a personal perspective. Like the Jewish people under Hitler’s regime, we are hunkered down and hiding, except for brief daily airings. Those with cars are making quick stops at grocery stores, but they are not showing their faces. Those of us who can’t drive are taking walks in the neighborhood or tossing a ball in the back yard to our confused but happy dogs. They wonder why we are home all day and why they are getting all this extra attention, interrupting their routine of sleeping most of the day. Guide dogs are wondering why we are not doing anything but walking around the neighborhood. They can’t know that the enemy is out there, and the best way we can protect ourselves is to hide in our houses.

Just a few days ago, I read a story about a grown man who told his story of being on his own at age 11, when both his parents were murdered by the Nazis. He finally found a woman who was willing to hide him in her attic. She brought him food once a day and ordered him to not make a sound. He endured this solitude and cruelty for months.

So when I even consider feeling lonely, I stop myself and think of all the ways I have nothing to complain about. Aside from radio, TV, Alexa, the internet, the telephone, texting, books to read and books to write, , and waving to my neighbors as I stroll past their houses, I can actually attend church, meetings, and social gatherings through Zoom. I think it’s the best thing invented since the internet. It was a bit of a challenge learning to use it, but I can be in communication with other people any day of the week.

I have food in my pantry and fridge, thanks to services that deliver right to my door. Right now, I have to be a little patient, because they are swamped, but with planning and not overeating, it’s working out fine. I don’t have to wait for someone to sneak me food once a day. And I certainly am not on the front lines, fighting losing battles day after heart-breaking day.

Don’t get me wrong. I long to get back to church, to the Y, to lunches out with friends, and having company at my house. But making this one little sacrifice is notthat bad at all. I urge any of you who read this blog to do the same. Call me any time you feel the need to hear a live human voice. I will be glad to talk. I have all day.

Church Has Left the Building

Like many churches across America, mine is holding services via technology. Our pastors and some of the musicians and vocalists record their parts, separately and not in the same room, and then anybody can view the services over YouTube or via the website,

and never know that it was all done in accordance with social distancing. It looks and sounds like it was one complete service. It’s the next best thing to being there. What we really miss is shaking hands and giving hugs to our friends whom we only see at church and are happy to greet each Sunday morning.

After the service, we have several Sunday School classes, but the one I attend is called Coffee and Conversation. Of all the gatherings of people that have had to be cancelled because of the pandemic, this is the one I miss the most. The purpose is to discuss the sermon and how it relates to our lives, but we often dive even more deeply into our concerns and the mysteries of what God has in mind for us.

While it’s kind of fun to go to church virtually without having to wear more than a sweatshirt over our pajama bottoms, it’s been a challenge for many of us seniors to learn to use the Zoom platform for Sunday School. I had to have a tech guy from Microsoft install it for me, because the instructions looked like they required a college degree in Zoom installation, and then my daughter generously practiced it with me, so I could join in without stress and frustration. My friend Deborah prefers to use her iphone for Zoom, and she graciously tried to teach me, but for me, the lap top seemed a little more consistent in what it was asking me to do with each step. Anyway, I had to smile as the first half of our Sunday School class was spent coaching each other on how to get connected. I suspect that we’ll all get quite good at this over the coming weeks and possibly months.

Other changes in our lifestyles will occur, and some of them are for the good.

For instance, calling a friend or acquaintance occasionally just to see how they are doing or if they need anything, especially if they live alone could do much to improve the mental health of many people who are lonely and feel isolated. Offering to run errands for folks who are elderly or have a disability who can’t drive anymore or pick up medicine or groceries, when the delivery services are swamped, reach the hearts and heal the souls just as much as sitting in a church with others who might be praying for the sick and the lonely, not that there is anything wrong with that. These acts of kindness and love demonstrate what one of our pastors said in a message to us in a daily email devotional. Church has left the building.

The Best Way to Help

It’s day 15 of my isolation. On Friday, March 13, my friend Vicki took me to a doctor’s appointment, and by noon, I had begun my part in fighting the Coronavirus. It sounds strange to use an active verb to describe doing nothing, but I heard an interview with a doctor who said that the doctors a other medical personnel work tirelessly for us, and what we can do for them in return is to stay home.

Immediately, I was reminded of what my dad would say to me when I, as a little girl, would ask him if I could help with whatever project he was working on. “The best thing you can do is stay out of the way,” he’d say. I didn’t like that answer, but now I understand its wisdom.

For most people who were used to having their freedom of movement, who could jump in their cars and run up to the store, go to a movie, visit friends, take in a ball game, or attend a concert whenever they

felt like it, staying home is going to be a hardship, especially if they live alone. But for those of us who have a disability and can’t enjoy those freedoms, it’s not much different from our everyday lives. We need to have someone else to drive us or accompany us to places that we can’t get to on our own, so even if we did try to ignore the orders to keep our distance from others by at least 6 feet and not to join even small gatherings of people who could possibly be carriers of the disease, we can’t.

So far, being alone with only my dog to keep me company has not been such a hardship. Fortunately, she is mature enough now not to have to be playing with me all day, so I can get some work done, and fortunately for her, I am still active enough to take her for long walks every single day, even in the rain. It’s important for her health as well as mine.

My mental health is just as important, so I am busy much of the day with writing, reading, listening to the news, scrubbing surfaces, corresponding with friends via email, and talking with friends on the phone. Normally, I am not a phone-chatter, but during this time of isolation, I am making it a point to call someone every day just to talk and check on their health. Other people have been calling me too, especially my kids, so the day is filled with communication. Yesterday, my next-door neighbor came over to the fence to say hello, since we hadn’t spoken since last fall. We were still 6 feet apart, but it was the first time I had spoken to someone face to face in 2 weeks, and I have to say, it was refreshing.

When you hear the horrific numbers of people who are hospitalized and dying, you know that most of those cases could have been avoided if only the people who are not sick would stay home. As possible carriers, they are running around spreading the disease and not knowing it. It’s a small price to pay to just stay out of the way of this terrible virus and let it fly away. If we all avoid contact with a person or a thing that could be a resting place for it, those of us who aren’t sick yet can live and enjoy having our loved ones live too.

We even can attend meetings and church services and enjoy free virtual tours of museums and watch millions of hours of cute puppies on YouTube,

90,000 troops were supposed to be deployed, but now they have to be quarantined for another 2 months. Surely a few weeks of quarantine in our comfortable homes with all these diversions is not that great a sacrifice.

Mary Hiland

Author of Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available on Amazon or at

Haunting Your Old Office

Have you ever gone back to a former place of work, just to hang out with your fellow workers or office-mates at the water cooler or the break room? Were you disappointed, because the staff had changed and your favorite cronies had all left?

My experience last Monday had a touch of disappointment, because the secretary had been replaced by a volunteer, whom I didn’t know. But once I opened the control room door, it was as if I had never left 15 years ago. Chuck was still behind the controls, and volunteers were stopping in to get their studio assignment or to tell Chuck they were done with the magazine or newspaper they had been recording. None of them knew me. I was just a visitor to them, and indeed, that was what I was. But instead of melancholy, I felt joy in being there to talk about my new status as published author. I knew that when the hour was over, and I had talked about my book, Insight Out, One Blind Woman’s View of her Life, I could go to the break room and have lunch with Chuck, catch up on what’s been happening in his life, and wait for Mainstream to appear to pick me up and take me back home. The ride home on that Mainstream van was just as horrific as I remembered it, bumpy and noisy and an hour long. I felt like I’d been beaten up by the time I got home. What a relief to be back in my house with a nap as the next item on my agenda. I wondered how I did that trip 5 days a week. But then, I was 15 years younger.

I recall the first time I ever sat behind a mike as a guest on that show. It seems odd to remember that I was very nervous. I was a homemaker at the time, and I had agreed to come and share recipes and housekeeping tips. That volunteer gig lead to speaking engagements to recruit volunteers and bring in donations. Then when the position of volunteer coordinator suddenly became available, I was right there the next morning with resume in hand. It was the perfect example of how a volunteer could turn her avocation into a full-time career, a career that would last 22 years.

I have to say that being a writer, with my office being my recliner in my living room, is so much easier, albeit certainly not as lucrative.

Being a guest on a show whenever I’ve written a book is a dream volunteer job. I’d like to do more of that, just in case you’re a talk show host in need of a charming, talented, and talkative guest.