If it weren’t for our parents…!
Many of us who went blind at an early age or were always blind from before birth know how involved our families were in helping us through school from taking us to and from our State’s residential campus for the blind or in working with local districts to allow us to be mainstreamed. On this Mothers’ Day, we say thank-you for our mothers and their tireless, loving support of our coping with being blind.
I myself have many vivid memories of hearing the good old Perkins brailler’s chatter rising up from downstairs late into the night and knowing Mom was transcribing the tests I’d take during high school into braille. Then when we got the big Versapoint Embosser, Mom began transcribing via the computer.
She worked many long hours talking with teachers, getting handouts ready for me to use. Of course, this was in the late 1980s until 1991. We didn’t have the internet as we know it today. So, keeping up with classes largely depended on how much follow-through Mom could muster amid my emotional adjustments to public school. And master it, she did!
How often our mothers balanced the load of tending to our emotional needs growing up while learning how much rope to give us for growing socially amid the rage of teenage hormones and physical change. IN my family, Dad was our primary bread winner even during those years when Mom went back to work, once to pursue her real estate license and later as an area secretary for a growing company in central Indiana.
And I’m sure like many of your mothers, Mom was determined to give me the best chance at preparing for life after graduation. She listened to my stewing over lots of fears about handling life in college, calmed my tendency to run after my impulses to prove my blossoming independence. And all the while learned the ropes of what we may now call parental advocacy.
You see, this was the time just before and immediately after the Americans with Disabilities Act laid down some great framework for promoting the dignity of us who are disabled and our rights to an equal shot at navigating all that life could have in store for us. Sometimes, I believed Mom wanted my success more than I did back then. So she stayed determined to help me prepare for those very tests that she transcribed. When I went on college visits, she traced out the general features of each campus so I could feel the layout for myself. Then reality hit for her and Dad when I decided to travel seven hundred miles away from home to attend Concordia College-Seward, Nebraska. (now Concordia University Nebraska)
I didn’t realize it all back then, but I was learning to feed off of Mom’s determination in building my own resilience. Job losses and hires, dating successes and disappointments, moving from place to place to place-Mom has been there to lend her listening ear and ongoing advice. Like Dad, she kept the faith-as the expression goes-while keeping me and my brother with our own families grounded in the Christian faith.
Perhaps your experiences have been similar. Maybe, you have had to stress over those feelings of isolation or disappointment when jobs, friends, and relocating shaped your perspective to where it is now. Even if you didn’t have your birth mother involved all the way, you certainly had those nurturing influences, an aunt or teacher, an older member at church or a family friend who checked in on you. And for those of you who have gained much experience and accolades through work, your mothers cheered you on while reminding you to stay the course as they exemplified for you.
For all this, we are glad to tell our moms, “Happy Mothers’ Day eternally grateful for their love and care throughout our lives.