Readers respond to Ernie’s columns

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I’m encouraged when I hear that something I have written has helped another person, so in this column I want to report and comment on a few calls I have had over the past months.

What’s the secret to gardening without sight?

“I came out again to check on your garden,” a friend said. “I just have to see how it is growing now. I am amazed at what you can do. How do you tell a weed from the plants you want to cultivate?” he asked as we paused to examine the developing garden.

A lot of being able to tell weeds from the plants you want is to know just what is planted in each row, I told him.

Some crops are easy to identify right from the start. But some, such as carrots, are a bit difficult for a few weeks. Again, the key is knowing where and what is sown. I keep track of what is planted in each row, storing this information in my computer so I can always check to be sure of the crop.

I explained to him that blindness can be a real problem at times. When showing visitors our back yard and garden I often tend to follow their voice and forget to keep my mind on where I am. This morning as we walked, something didn’t feel right.

Stopping, I asked, “What is ahead of us?”

“There is a fence. It looks like three strands of rope,” he answered.

Making an about-face we headed back to the house. That ropelike fence ahead of us was really a strong electric fence to keep horses in our back pasture. I had no desire to check out its power.

“Even in my yard,” I told him, “I have to be careful to keep in mind where I am, for if I just one time grow careless and set off without knowing my direction I can get into trouble.”

You don’t look like you’re blind

Someone told me, “I forget that you are blind when I talk to you. You seem to be looking right at me.”

I do try to look at a person when speaking, but I also feel that many times I am not looking at their face, as I feel my eyes wandering.

Column is educational, encouraging

“I think your column was the best article in the newspaper today,” said one man. “We need more such articles.”

“Well,” I told him, “I am not sure the column was that great but it’s good to hear that anyway.”

“I really appreciate these articles you write. Very practical, and I learn so much. Not only that, but you do it in a way that doesn’t talk down to the reader.”

“Thank you,” I said, “I am glad if my column can encourage even one person. Being blind is not an easy disability to accept, but we can manage fine if we just keep trying.”

People facing blindness seek advice

People who are facing vision loss, or who know others in that situation, will occasionally reach out to me for encouragement and inspiration.

“I read your column and really learn from it. It is encouraging to know that blindness doesn’t have to put a stop to one’s activities. I have glaucoma and I fear that I may go blind,” someone told me.

Recently, a friend living in the Spokane area referred me to a friend of hers who is losing his eyesight and finding blindness to be a hard path to walk. Without special software programs, even using the computer may be difficult for a person who finds his eyesight fading. We are in frequent contact now as he is working on adjusting to living with limited eyesight.

Just a couple weeks ago I was stopped as my wife, Dorothy, and I walked to our car after leaving Radio Shack. A lady called my name and told me that her son, in his mid-50s, is going blind.

“I am hoping he will be visiting me soon,” she told me, “and I am going to get him in touch with you so maybe you can encourage him. He is having such a struggle accepting his eyesight loss.”

“I must show this to my father,” a young lady told me when I handed her a copy of one of my recent newspaper columns. “His eyesight is fading but he refuses to seek help for himself. He seems to think that blindness is the end.”

“I understand,” I said, “for I walked the same path. I never accepted blindness in the beginning but fought depression and the ‘pity party’ for a long time. I refused all help until at last I was backed into a corner and knew I needed to accept the facts and act accordingly.”

I hope other people reading this column will realize there is help for them, even though they or a family member might be going blind. I hope my writing can be an encouragement to them.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at theolcrow@charter.net.

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