Is It Fun To Be Blind?

Last week, a little girl at church asked, “Is it fun to be blind?” People have asked me all sorts of stupid questions and made stupid assumptions, but this one came from a 7-year old so I had to be a little more forgiving. I wouldn’t say it was stupid, but it sure was odd. If she had been an adult, I might have shot back, “Well what do you think?” But I gave her a straight answer with a bit of humor to soften it. “No, it’s not fun to be blind, but it’s fun to have a guide dog,” I said with a smile.

You’d be surprised at the odd things people say to me. Here are some examples.

I recently had an endoscopy, and the doctor, instead of asking me questions about my symptoms, quizzed me on my eye condition, which BTW has nothing to do with this procedure. He told me, “Well, you don’t act blind. You seem very aware.” What an insult. What did he expect? There I was, lieing on a table, with an IV in my right arm and a blood pressure cuff dangling from the other. Just how would a blind person act any differently from anybody else in this position? But this was not the time to embarrass the doctor.

I went to a meeting the other day and sat near a man who asked me “Have you been blind all your life?” This was his conversation opener? He didn’t even know my name or introduce himself. What gave him the right to ask such a personal question? I should have said, “Have you been rude all your life?” My friend Deborah came up with that witty comeback. She’s quicker on the draw than I am.

Of course, the favorite question is “What’s your dog’s name?” It’s not even a conversation starter. For some reason, it’s just very important for everybody to know the dog’s name.

And how about this one? “Is there an operation you can have?” Now, wouldn’t you think that if an operation could fix my blindness, I would be first in line to get it done?

A young girl asked me at the pool if my dog was blind. I gave her the simple answer “No, my dog is not blind. I am. She’s a guide dog.” But what I wished I had said was, “Now think about this for a minute. Why would I be bringing a blind dog to the pool?”

The older I get, the less tolerant I am for people who don’t think before they speak.

But here’s a question I love to talk about. I was in a restaurant with a friend when a little boy came to our table and said, “Can I ask a question? How does your dog help you see?” Now there’s a child who is smarter than his mother. She no doubt told him that “That dog helps that lady see.” I explained to the little boy that she guides me around things, because I can’t see. I’ve also overheard parents tell their little kids, “That dog is that lady’s eyes.” How on earth can a child make sense of that kind of metaphor. She is not my eyes. Does she look like a pair of eyes?

Do I sound angry? No, I’m just weary of ignorance.

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4 thoughts on “Is It Fun To Be Blind?

  1. “The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of seeing people towards them.” according to Helen Keller in a speech for the AFB, 1925. Keep smiling my friend, often the public only has capacity to think one foot forward at a time…….

  2. Mary, I’m so sorry you lost your sight. I’m certain that every little thing in life has been difficult for you. How you have responded has been miraculous and you have a zillion friends that are so proud of you and your successes. When our little Kai came into our family and our lives, we would say he has a mild case of cerebral palsy. But, he struggles with every little thing he does in life plus he ‘feels’ different than the other kids because of his condition. We no longer refer to his condition as mild and respect him for the things he is able to do and how he goes about them – remarkable comes to mind. Same for you dear friend.

  3. Mary your patience amazes me. Just keep thinking to yourself that some people don’t mean to be cruel and can’t help being ignorant.

  4. I’m so sorry for the ignorance you put up with, and especially for my own ignorance about blindness. I’ve learned so very much since I met you, and I am in awe of what you have accomplished and what you do.

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