Later, when I was required to attend Little League baseball games, I’d sit in a lawn chair and cheer whenever the other parents cheered, while I silently prayed I wouldn’t get hit in the head by a foul ball. Miraculously, I never did.
During one game, when Steve was nine or so, and Kara was about six,
Kara wanted to go to the playground nearby. I thought we could sneak off and nobody would notice. After all, it was pretty boring for a six-year-old to watch a brother’s baseball game. But As soon as we had reached the slide and swing set, I heard Steve call from the outfield, “Hey Mom, you’re supposed to be watching me!” Oops. Busted. He didn’t care if I could see him or not. It was just important for me to be there.
And then there were Kara’s baton competitions. I sat on bleachers in gymnasiums for hours at a time, listening to taped marches and polite applause from time to time. Tap dancing and choir concerts I could appreciate, but baton twirling? It was Kara’s passion for a couple of years, and it was frustrating to me to not be able to watch her perform and compete. I had to rely on the comments from other mothers. I guess she was pretty good though, because she became a drum majorette in high school. Again, even though I couldn’t see how well she twirled, it was important for me to be there anyway.
Training to be a Sighted Guide
Even when Kara was only eight or so, she and I would go to events together on the para-transit. We went to the Columbus Arts Festival, and she would describe what she was seeing. She grew up being a sighted guide, and now it’s second nature for her. We laughed when she was in college, and she’d sit down at the table with her friends at a restaurant and start reading the menu aloud. She also became very aware of how insensitive the public can be about people with disabilities and especially about guide dogs. One time when we went to the Ohio State Fair together, we stopped in the restroom to give my Seeing Eye ® dog a drink of water. Kara had filled the bowl and was holding it for my dog. A woman came over and stood there, staring, as if she had never seen a dog drink before. Instead of saying something like, “What are you staring at?” Kara very pointedly looked up at the woman, made eye contact, and gave her a little wave..” She didn’t need to say a word, but she sent her message clearly. My daughter is now quite the competent advocate.