When someone says something patronizing to you, don’t you just want to growl back at them? Or are you one of those angelic people who manage to smile and ignore the insult? I’m so glad I have this blog, so I can express the outrage I feel when someone says to me, “I think it’s so wonderful that you can live on your own and take care of yourself.” Give me a break! Do they actually think that most people who are visually impaired need a caretaker? Most of the blind people I know ARE the caretakers in their families.
I was married as a visually impaired young woman, bore two children, kept house, did the grocery shopping, the cooking, and the laundry. Yes, I changed the babies’ diapers myself. Yes, I bathed them, dressed them, entertained them, taught them, helped them with their homework, and all the other things fully sighted parents do, except drive them to ball games or band practice. My sighted husband took care of things like that, and when he was tied up with work, I had to make transportation arrangements for them, until they were old enough to do that themselves. Now that the kids are grown up and on their own, all I’ve had to do is take care of myself and my guide dogs. It’s been a piece of cake, except of course, for the transportation part, and even that is working out okay for the moment.
Now that my mother is in assisted living, my life has not only become a little more complicated, but also filled with more homemaking duties. For instance, once a week, I carry her laundry home, wash it, and carry it back to her the next time I visit. Laundry service is supposed to be provided, but I’ve been warned that it’s best to do it yourself, because they’re not always great at getting the right clothes back to the right people. The grocery shopping has become a little more complex, because I’m not only buying what I need, but also what my mother would like to have on hand in her apartment, even though meals are provided. This means I have to make sure she has fresh milk, so she can have cereal some mornings, and cookies and snacks, for when the meals are inedible, and she returns to her apartment hungry. Because she complains on a daily basis about the poor quality of the food, I take dinner to her once a week, so she can have at least one meal that she enjoys. I usually make it myself at home, then carry it in an insulated bag, if it’s a salad, or in a dish that can be heated in the microwave. She is always very complimentary and grateful for my efforts. I brought her some homemade peach pie yesterday, and you would have thought I had brought her a feast. I take care of paying her bills, filling out the endless forms, making her doctors’ appointments, and making sure her needs are met. In other words, I don’t do any more than anybody else, but I don’t do any less. Thank God I’m not the helpless blind person that so many people think I should be. I do know a couple of blind people who do live in an independent living situation, but it’s not their blindness alone that has put them there. They have other issues. I am blessed to have all my other senses, so I can lead a mostly normal life.
Back to the matter of doing the laundry. Thanks to the laundry detergents that work in cold water, I throw all the colors and the whites together, so there’s no stress about keeping them separated. But don’t tell Mom. My machine is marked with dots and Braille or a product called HighMark. No, the machine does not come this way. I marked it myself with the help of probably my daughter. Periodically, I have a trusted sighted friend go through my closet to check for stains or worn-out-looking garments. And speaking of stains, I’d much prefer that you tell me if I have a spot on my blouse than to go around all day with it and possibly wear it again with that spot on it. Remember I can’t feel a stain, so don’t be shy. Just no April Fools jokes please.