Excerpt for Never Be Discouraged with God All Things Are Possible by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Blind Eyes

I have never seen a sunset

Or watched a flower grow

Or even see the Light of Day

Which gives its gentle Glow

But I don’t live in Darkness

Because I’ve learned to sense

The Light of Christ within me

That gives my life a glow

Alice Crespo

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth- in fact I was born without a spoon at all. But as you continue to read these pages, I hope that you will see that no obstacle is insurmountable. You just have to have faith in God, not be afraid of hard work, and have a dream that you really want to reach. Everything will fall into place. I started out on welfare, and today I am a self-supporting, financially independent woman, and I live in a beautiful apartment, and am off of the system completely.

No one says that being blind is easy. Growing up, no one in my household really said anything about being blind at all. Uncomfortable things like that were not really discussed or explained much. But I was, and am, totally blind, and there is definitely a lot of things to be discussed and explained.

I always knew that I was blind- I couldn’t see, so of course I was blind. But it is not just about know that you are blind- it’s about understanding that even though it is a sighted world, there is still so much to explore and experience. Just because you can’t see something, does not mean that it isn’t there. You can’t hide away just because you are afraid; have faith, get up, and create your own light. It is difficult sometimes- I know, I’ve suffered as well- but it isn’t impossible. Nothing is impossible; with God, all things are possible.

As a child I did not fully grasp the concept of being blind. No one ever really sat me down and explained why the other children weren’t as excited to play with me as they were with my sisters. I didn’t understand that they were playing games that I couldn’t play. I didn’t understand why teachers were so hard on me when I made mistakes- I was only a child! And didn’t everyone make mistakes? Why was I treated so differently? Why was I so different?

I was different because I was blind.

People will always ask me what it’s like to be blind. How do I even answer that? What is it like to not be blind? If I feel like they are actually being sincere with me, I’ll tell whoever is asking to just close their eyes as tightly as they can. When I ask them to explain to me what’s happening around them, they can’t answer because they can’t see. Well, everyone, that’s what it’s like for me. I cannot see. I cannot even see if the lights in my home are on and off. Which isn’t convenient for my electricity bill.

There are ways to learn how to “see colors,” I’ve been told, by using descriptive words. However, color is a visual sense that words can only describe so much. For example, I’ve been told that red is like heat, which does give me a slight idea. But I’ve also been told that red is a very pretty color, and I really can’t see how something that’s really hot, and could burn me be pretty.

White is pure and clean and is supposed to make me think of snow… Or, rather, snow will make me think of the color white. However, I can’t really say that I think snow is clean and pure because snow makes me think of slush and the cold and uncomfortable, itchy sweaters. Also, how am I supposed to think that snow is pretty when I live in New York? And snow in New York, especially Times Square, is definitely not pretty. Besides, whenever it snows, it makes it difficult to walk because it covers all of the landmarks. And the idea of rolling a cane in the snow is just no fun, let’s be honest. And then, if I fall in the snow, which happens more than I’d like to admit, that’s even worse. And when I’m using a guide dog, snow is a triple nuisance because of the salt that is used. The salt gets into the dog’s paws and makes a very big mess in my house. And if I fall with my guide dog, people are afraid of being bitten and won’t help me up. So, sorry, there is nothing pretty about snow.

Then of course, there is the color Black. People tell me black is supposed to be like night. People also tell me that black is symbolic of depression and death and other unfortunate things. However, I like thinking that black is like night, in which case black is definitely my favorite color because I like night and I like to sleep. So, yes, I suppose black is definitely my favorite color. Besides, night means the day is over and work is over and it is time to relax, watch TV, read a book, listen to music, and eat a snack…. I can go on and on with all of the good stuff that happens at night. Not to mention, when I wear black, I know that I don’t need to worry about matching anything.

Let’s see… There are many other things that are hard to describe… Like the moon. However, one thing can always be described one way or another. So no need to further this conversation and waste space.

People have told me that food looks even more appetizing than it is. However, I love food. I may not be able to see it, but it certainly tastes good. My favorite thing is eating, which is why I’ll never go on a diet. Those evil things will only make you feel guilty about enjoying the pure happiness of a good meal.

For example, a good filet mignon with a loaded baked potato from Outback Steakhouse will never fail to put a satisfied smile on my face. Not only is the food absolutely delectable, but Outback has always been a place that has gone above and beyond to make my experience something to remember. They provide Braille menus, and if I ever come with a friend who uses a walker, they put us close by the door so that my friend does not have to walk so far. I wish more places were as accommodating as Outback is. And, by the way, don’t even get me started on their desserts… They are awesome. Enough said.

As you read this book, you will be taken into a new world where people function without sight. But the worst thing that can happen to someone is not that they lose their sight, but that they lose their vision. I hope that by reading this book, you will open your mind to the many possibilities that could be yours if you will just give your dreams a chance and trust that God will always be there to help you.

I do not want to blame anyone for my blindness; God has a reason for everything, and although I do not understand it entirely today, I know that one day when I meet him face to face, he will make it all clear to me. Until then, I am contented to know that he is always with me. Maybe it’s because the work that I need to do for Helping Hands requires me to be more sensitive to the needs of other people. When someone else is having a problem with their disability or being poor, I do understand and I am more than able to offer them my support to them.

The Beginning

In 1952, when I was born, the standard practice was to place a premature infant into an incubator to help with the baby’s development. What the doctors did not know then, was that the incubator would damage the retinas of the eyes, which left me totally blind. This is more commonly known as ROP; also known as Retinopathy of prematurity. In the 50s, they did not have the technology to really understand my disease or how to treat it. Even today, the disease is not fully understood and is still the leading cause of blindness in children.

When an infant is born prematurely, they are at high risk for many diseases, including mine. A doctor once told me to think of it like this: you have a party to prepare for and you need a certain amount of time to get ready. You discover suddenly that your party is sooner than you thought, so you throw everything together as quickly as possible and hope for the best. It may look alright on the surface, but you know that there are flaws. A premature baby needs those extra couple of months to develop correctly just like you need those extra couple of hours to get ready for the party. The eyes need the extra time to develop, otherwise they become disorganized. And my eyes are definitely disorganized. You could say they just got thrown together. Maybe one day someone will be able to figure out how to organize them.

I was probably not getting the best care since my parents were so poor, and welfare was paying for my birth. I was in the incubator for two months. However, they did not inform my parents that I was completely blind until I was about three months old when I had to return to the hospital to fix a hernia that had developed. It was during this time that they broke the news to my mother, who did not speak English very well or understand what “blind” meant. It wasn’t until my father finally returned home that my mother questioned him about what the word blind, “ciega,” actually meant and how serious was it. I can only imagine them in my mind how it must’ve been for her to return home with her infant child, not understanding what was wrong. I can’t absorb the image of having to wait for hours at home to find out the seriousness of the situation. I’d like to believe that my father comforted her when he returned and held her while he tried to explain something that was difficult for him to understand as well- neither one of them really believed that this would be permanent. He had assured my mother that he would find a specialist who could fix this. Unfortunately, after many tries, the doctors finally convinced him that nothing could be done. My mother and grandmother, however, strongly believed that my condition was temporary and they also believed that with enough faith and prayer I would be healed.

My parents were strict Pentecostals that strongly believed that God would heal me if I prayed enough, and felt that there was no need to do any explaining. In their mind, this was temporary.

This put me at a great disadvantage as I was lead to believe that something was wrong with me rather than the truth, which was that I was born blind and that’s just the way life was going to be. No matter how hard I prayed, I could not be sure that God would heal me. And I felt like I heavy burden was placed upon me as if I had done something wrong. This, I think, was very unfair. But I do realize that my mother and grandmother meant well. Unfortunately, they had poor theology themselves. And they had no one to guide them either.

My parents were told that surgery of any kind would not be successful for my condition. My disease is at the most severe stage; otherwise surgery might have been a possibility. Then again, I do know some people who have had surgery and did not have any successful outcomes. Sometimes life is just that way. Accept that you cannot fix everything and you just have to make the best out of what you have.

My father had a drinking problem so he was not in the picture much, so he could not help either. There was one night when I was about three or four years old, we had a surprise visit from the cops. We did not have a telephone so they had to come over to inform my mother that her husband was currently in jail. Even at that young age, I knew that my mother did not understand, so I had to tell her “Papa esta en la carcel,” My father is in jail.”

The two officers who had come to the house started joking with each other about my natural talent “she must have said it right because the mother is crying.” He then asked me if I was blind, and I responded with my childlike candidness; “I think so, but I’m not sure.”

Years later, when I finally accepted my fate that I was going to be an interpreter, I ran into this same officer in court. He had recognized me immediately and questioned the clerk about me. He was not surprised to see me there at first because he had figured that nothing good would come from my family. The clerk quickly corrected him and informed him that I was in fact the interpreter. He congratulated me and was happy that I had made something good out of my life. It was amusing because really, my interpreting career started with him.

While my father was in prison, which later I found out was because he had shot someone in the foot, he wrote to the Industrial Home for the Blind, now known as Helen Keller Services for the Blind. He had informed them that I was blind and that my mother needed assistance in getting me into school and also she did not understand English very well and needed a Spanish speaking social worker. They had quickly responded and helped my mother enroll me in a specialized nursery school for blind children. At that time I had believed that I was the only one who was blind.

I then met Vicky, whom I told her in secret one day that I was blind. She laughed and informed me that I was not alone because she was blind as well. In fact, everyone in the school was blind. That is when I discovered that there were other blind people in the world and I was not the only one. This made me feel so much better.

Nursery School was a whole new world to explore; before then I had only known my home and the presence of my mother and grandmother. This was the first time that I was on my own and not with a family member. I will never forget the first time I discovered the sandbox. I would sit there in the sand and play for hours. I know I must have made quite a mess, but the pure joy was so worth it. I find this story very amusing today because now I hate sand and the mess it makes.

Graduating from nursery school was a day that I’ll never forget- not only had I received my first diploma, but it was also in braille, which was something that I would one day be able to read for myself. I remember that I had found that so exciting. I kept feeling the small bumps on the paper and knew that one day I would be able to read and understand what they meant. Before that, I had believed that I would never be able to read because I could not see.

One day in the middle of January, I was perhaps six, maybe seven years old… My age does not come back to me as quickly as the image of what really happened that day. My father had been out gallivanting somewhere in Brooklyn while the rest of us were home doing homework. My mother was fixing dinner, probably wondering where he was and wishing he was home to help her with the chores. It was really just a typical day in the middle of winter until all of a sudden I started to hear some yelling outside the house. At first I figured it was some nonsense commotion that would pass by eventually. These things often happen in New York and we New Yorkers have learned how to live with it and ignore it. However, my father’s voice was unmistakable to me.

My mother had exclaimed, “Who is yelling out there?”

And I replied with confidence that it was definitely, unmistakably, Daddy.

Her response was that it couldn’t possibly be my father. And believed that very strongly until she moved open the drapes and saw him standing there on top of a large mound of snow waving a knife in his hand. I can still remember the sound of those drapes today.

“Oh, My God, I can’t believe this! You were right.”

Quickly after that, my grandmother, who had lived upstairs at the time, came down to see who was making all of commotion outside. My mother had told her that it was my father. My grandmother had the same response that my mother did.

And years later my younger sister, who does not remember this at all, asked me if he had wanted to cut the snow. Who knows back then? But we definitely had a good laugh about it.

He was cursing out white people in our neighborhood….Which was probably not such a good idea since we lived in a predominately white neighborhood. My poor mother had to live with that man, I don’t know how, but she did. We all did. My grandmother called him a jerk, but we just left him alone until he calmed down enough to stumble back into our house. NO one tried to stop him; I’m sure that they thought it would be too dangerous. No one even called the cops. They probably figured he’d calm down eventually and not actually cause any harm. Plus it was a very stormy, snowy night and no one was outside except for him anyway. So no one, except for the snow, was really in any danger.

My father was very well known for making scenes of slight disorderly conduct- he never actually hurt anyone; accept for the guy with the foot of course. I’ll never forget the night he came into the apartment building totally drunk and laid on the floor of the entry way. He had thrown all of his money around him in a flutter, causing such a ruckus that the neighbor discovered him and got my mother. She came down and my father then asked her to carry him up the stairs because he just couldn’t do it on his own. Mind you, my mother was a very petite woman and my father, especially to me at the time, was a giant. Her carrying him up anything, especially the stairs, wasn’t happening. Instead, she picked up the money, came back to the apartment, and muttered in Spanish how he’d make his way up eventually.

She was right; eventually he did come up, took a long nap, and sobered up. My mother had then told him that he had wanted her to lug him up the stairs. We all had a good laugh at that.

For reasons that I do not know, my parents decided to send me to public school with a special class for blind children instead of a school for the blind. In 1958, my family and I moved from Coney Island to Williamsburg where I began going to school at PS 157. This is where all of my nightmares began.

I had a teacher named Mrs. Weinstein and she was very hard on me because I was a slow learner and not much was known about learning disabilities in those days. I strongly believe that I have some type of learning disability as I learn very slowly and I am still not a very good speller. My teacher believed that I was just lazy, so she often spanked me because she believed that this would make me try harder. I don’t think it really helped- I think it made things a lot worse for me. But I had no one who would or could advocate for me. When I told my parents, my mother spoke to my teacher, but Mrs. Weinstein assured her that since “I was an underprivileged child and I was in a special class, she had the right to hit me.” My mother believed her and so there was nothing I could do. I was the victim of this abuse until I got to the sixth grade.

I was also victim to constant harassment for not having appropriate clothing; because my parents were so poor, we could not afford to have nice clothes for school or day to day activities. My teacher would often criticize and scold me for not looking my best while attending her class. This made me feel very bad about myself because there was nothing that I could do to fix the situation at that time. Today I am happy to say that I have the money to buy nice clothing and always look nice; however I do have the confidence now to not worry so much about what other people think.

While I’ll always have complains, I have to say that I did learn braille and many other things from this woman, but my life was very difficult. I never knew what to expect in her classroom. She often spanked other children too, but I seemed to have gotten most of it.

There was one time in class when Mrs. Weinstein was asking my friend Vanessa a question, and being the good friend that I am, I had whispered in her ear the correct answer. I had thought that I was being clever and sneaky enough so that I could get away with it, but a quick slap to the face had taught me otherwise. Let’s just say I learned my lesson to keep my answers to myself. So much for being a Good Samaritan. To be honest, I’m surprised I knew the answer anyway.

Lily was another good friend of mine in school. She had been very quiet and shy because she couldn’t speak or understand English very well. And being the friendly and helpful person that I usually am, I had spoken up for her because I was able to help her out by translating for her. There were not many people who could speak Spanish, especially in our school, so I was happy to become her friend and together we got through things. It was also nice to share the experience of going to school and having a friend who was also blind. There were actually six of us in the special class though Lily and I were the closest of all of us. She had been very good at math homework and would always help me with mine. Actually, Lily was very smart and very advanced with a lot of things in life so she was always so helpful when it came to helping me out. We also would always share candy that we constantly tried to sneak into the classroom. We were very clever and never got caught.

After Mrs. Weinstein, I graduated to Mrs. Goodman. She was a much better teacher, though she did criticize me for my clothes as well. Also, since I was so behind in my studies, I got left back. She did take the time, though, to explain to my mother that it was not my fault. Thank God my mother decided to not tell my father because she knew that he’d probably beat me. I still thank God today because of her smart decision. She may have not understood English very well, but she was still a smart woman.

On the day that I graduated elementary school, Mrs. Goodman presented us all with braille watches. This had been such an amazing surprise, since my parents would never have been able to afford such a special watch. I will always remember that memory of receiving the gift, especially since that poor woman had to drive all the way into Manhattan to get the watches for everyone. She even got a parking ticket. So much for good karma, but then again, everyone in Manhattan has experienced at least one parking ticket.

After graduating elementary school, I attended Junior High with Mrs. Cambell, but don’t confuse her with the goodness of the soup. She had been very mean and often criticized me and made me feel quite stupid for my mistakes. She did teach me one good thing, though, and that was how to use a typewriter. I had to suffer through three long years with this woman. When I finally graduated, she informed me that I had passed everything, but I had received a few “65’s,” which was just barely passing. So much for making me feel good.

When I thankfully left that place and entered high school, I was assigned to Mrs. Kelly’s class. She had been extremely nice and had helped as much as she could. However, she didn’t really believe in me either, and told me that I should discuss with my family the idea of quitting school since I probably won’t graduate anyway. Come to think of it, she really wasn’t that nice after all.

I then spoke to a social worker at the Industrial Home for the Blind, who suggested that I go see a psychologist before I made any rash decisions about my education. I thankfully listened because the psychologist was very sympathetic. He had performed a number of tests and told me that there was no reason why I could not finish high school, but if I really wanted to leave school, he would offer his assistance since he worked for the Board of Education. I am glad that even at that age I was smart enough to know that continuing school was a good idea.

Without education, it is hard for anyone to really make it, especially someone who is totally blind. I am glad that I continued my education, because in 1972 I did graduate from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn.

Without education you cannot get a job or really have any sort of future. If possible, everyone should do their best to get an education, or at least a high school diploma. Education teaches you skills and discipline and it prepares you for the outside world.

During my junior year of high school, I entered the Lighthouse, which is an agency for the blind that does rehabilitation. This agency taught me how to cook, clean, walk with a white cane, and do many other household chores. They were also very sympathetic to my needs and it was the first time that I really felt valued and cared for. They understood my blindness and worked with me to make me a better person. I will always be grateful to the Lighthouse for making me the person that I am.

Walking with a cane was difficult, and I remember having a difficult time understanding the concepts that the teacher used. She was patient, but at times did become frustrated with my lack of understanding. Most of the other teachers had an easier job teaching me skills of daily living because I had done most of those things at home. But, all in all, this had been one of the best experiences in my life.

If I had received that kind of support and understanding earlier on in life, I believe that I would be a better person now; I would have a better attitude towards my disability and myself. Having this kind of support is crucial for the personal development to anyone regardless if they have a disability or not. But, for a disabled person, it is even more important because it teaches acceptance and provides the strength to persevere through anything that life may throw at them.

High school, as a whole, was difficult because we did not always have the books that we needed in braille, and although we had received some help with reading the books, it was never enough. My sisters tried to help me, but it was difficult because they were going to school too and were responsible for their own assignments. If homework wasn’t demanding enough, I also had to deal with the constant drama that persisted at home with my father.

I remember one night, when I was a teenager, he came home completely and utterly intoxicated. It was around Christmas time and I had had my hair fixed for the occasion. He had grabbed me by my hair and had said “I don’t feel sorry for you, you blind bitch,” and then threw me out into the hall. I remember trying desperately to adjust my pajamas because they were a bit too small and I was a bit too heavy. It had been freezing in that hallway and he quickly threw out my mother and sisters out as well.

Thankfully on that occasion someone did step in and called the cops. They came quickly to help us, arrested my father, and put us back into our apartment. The officer had then asked me if I were blind and I told him yes, that I was in fact very blind. He was very upset with my father.

The next day when we all gathered in church, my grandmother instantly knew something was wrong even before we had the chance to tell her. She had pulled us aside and questioned us to what had happened. At that time she no longer lived upstairs, but had moved several blocks away into another apartment building. We had told her that Daddy had come home drunk and had thrown us out of the house, causing so much noise and commotion that the neighbors stepped in and called the police. She had been so angry, and after church returned home with us to scold her son.

She was so mad that she denied birthing him, and in fact said that he must have been born from a dog. Because there was no way that any son of hers would act like that. Of course my father had responded that he had no memory of the event and that was that. In those days, you just accepted the things that happened and moved on; no one really put a thought to feelings.

My father would always joke about not ever having to worry about me because I was blind and would always get welfare for that. He also would say that I didn’t even have to concern myself with getting married because, hey, welfare was just as good as any dependable husband. In fact, it was probably better. I have to admit, the welfare sounded much better than having a husband, especially if my husband would be like him. In the end, though, this wasn’t very positive and made me feel bad about myself. I still never gave up on my dreams, though.

The idea of constantly living dependent on welfare did sit well with me then and still doesn’t sit well with me now. Growing up, I would always go with my mother to the welfare offices to help translate so that we could get our welfare checks. It made me feel like a real loser and knew that I was going to change it one day. It was awful and embarrassing, not to mention my father would provide for us and put any effort into any of it because he was always drinking and paying attention to unimportant things. The only one really tried to help me was my younger sister Helen… Even though she was younger, she really did try hard. My older sister, though I love her dearly, was not as supportive as my younger sister.

We pretty much always got along really well and would always try to make things fun for us at home. Whenever we were around our parents, my mother and grandmother specifically, we would always make a game out of our conversations. Because they didn’t understand English very well and because we didn’t always want them to know what we were talking about, we would often spell words out so that we could keep our secrets.

For example, we would talk about how our mother had forgotten to pay the r,e,n,t again. This unfortunately happened on more than one occasion.

And when we were really getting into our conversations about personal stuff, such as meeting a new b,o,y… Or how we were sick of doing homework and chores and what we really wanted to do was go out and see our b,o,y,f,r,i,e,n,d. This provided us with endless amusement, especially when our mother and grandmother would try to figure out what we were saying. They never could.

Because my parents were such strict Pentecostals we weren’t allowed to do much. We were not allowed to go to the movies, parties, or hang out with boys. The list unfortunately went on and on.

My preacher today likes to joke that children often turn away from religion because it’s so much more like a starvation diet because there are so many rules and it feels like this is the price that you have to pay not to go to Hell.

I have to agree with him… I honestly believe that there are too many religions in the world, and honestly we aren’t going anywhere with any of them. What we need is a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a religion. Because with a relationship, you are free to enjoy all of its pleasures. God wants us to enjoy everything, but to use it appropriately. In John 10:10, the Lord says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” Everything is good in moderation. For example, one glass of wine is nice… Ten glasses, on the other hand, is quite a different story. You might end up rolling around on the floor after so many glasses… And who knows when that floor was cleaned last. It’s okay to enjoy all of the wonderful pleasures in life. Just don’t do it in access. Or, if you find that something is too much for you to handle, perhaps you should stay away from it all together. Know your limits and understand that these are not rules, they are just suggestions to help you stay in balance.

I met Bill in junior high school. We became friends, and by high school he had convinced me to date him. He was a nice guy and he was a Christian. I did like him very much and believed that a relationship could be possible. He was also totally blind and had family issues like I did. His mother had left him when he was only three years old when she found out that he would be permanently blind. Though he had been born blind, like my own mother, she had believed that he could be fixed. He was raised by his father, and as he grew older the difficulties at home became more consistent. He moved out to live with some friends to escape his family home.

We only dated for a few months; he would take me out for ice cream and we would spend hours talking about our future. It was never about us being together and living happily ever after- we were still young and we were still trying to get our own lives in order. We knew, even then, that we needed jobs before we could really talk about anything serious. We were so shy, that even when we kissed it was a big deal. Plus, he was a very good kisser, which was good because he was my first kiss. I remember it happened in the high school stairwell. Everyone was kissing in that stairwell those days, but it was still very special to me.

Who knows what would’ve happened as we grew older. Unfortunately, time had been against us. One day a fire occurred in his home and he had been trapped and had suffered from the smoke. They had rushed him to the hospital, where they kept him for five days before he passed on.

I was able to go to the wake; it was one of the first times I had ever gone out alone using my white cane. I had been very sad and my grandmother told me that my love life had started out with bad luck because of what had happened. Gee, thanks, Grandma. However, a part of me was happy that I was able to go say my final goodbyes to him on my own.

My luck, unfortunately, did not get any better when it came to my love life. I had dated this other boy, Wayne, in high school. He had been nice enough and came from a good family, but things just weren’t working out after Bill. I really didn’t find the relationship that interesting and had felt that the relationship would never go anywhere. After we broke up, he decided one day to try and take advantage of me on the bus. He had informed me that he was going to kiss me whether I had liked it or not. I remember he had pushed me into the seat, but somehow I had managed to get away and run into the school. My teachers had seen me crying and had asked me what had happened. I had told them and they quickly took him aside and warned him that if he ever tried anything like that again he’d get into a lot of trouble. Thankfully he listened and I was left alone from then on. Thank goodness I had been smart enough to defuse the relationship, because I found out later in life that he decided to take a wrong path.

In high school I was referred to the Commission for the Blind, and this was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I received much needed equipment, clothing, and some financial assistance. Thanks to them, I had able to finish both high school and college and get a job. These people were wonderful. I had a wonderful councilor Mr. Lipton, who was very understanding and supportive of my dreams. He always told me that I was a good student because I was motivated and he knew that someday something good would come from that. I really believed, and wanted, to become a rehabilitation counselor. But after four years of college I discovered that I’d had enough of school. So, instead, I went to ICD, International Center for the Disabled, where I got a job as a court interpreter. Though, I have to admit the fact that in my high school years, I had prayed to the Lord to make me anything but an interpreter. I’d had quite enough of that with my parents and going to Welfare and other agencies to get help. Nevertheless, as you continue reading my story, you’ll find that, among other things, I became an interpreter anyways. And I did enjoy it very much for over 30 years.

My high school graduation had been a huge deal for me. I had been so excited to have finally arrived at that stage in my life. What made it even more special was that my parents had come together and took me to Dairy Queen afterwards and let me have my own milk shake all to myself. Usually my sisters and I had to share one, but since I had graduated, and this was so special, my parents decided to splurge and celebrate. It had been a vanilla milk shake.

During the summer months, I had spent my days at various camps for the blind. The first one was in Montebello, New York. It had been run by a woman named Julia, who had been totally blind herself. We would all spend time together playing games that were suitable for us. I remember on rainy days we would run inside and play numerous board games that were all in braille such as Scrabble, Dominos, etc. I had been so fascinated that all of these games were in braille and I was finally able to experience them for myself. The only thing that I didn’t like about the camp was that they had teenagers working for them and they were just too young and inexperienced to work with blind children.

Later on, I went to Camp Lighthouse in Waretown, New Jersey. This place had been much better because they had adults watching us and taking care of us. We had learned many new things like tandem bike riding, roller skating, bowling, and how to cook over a campfire. I loved learning all of these new things; they were very exciting to me.

There was this one time when the councilors made a huge mistake though; they asked my friend Sarah if she would direct me while I rowed a boat on the lake. They had assured me that she saw very well. So, believing them, we started rowing out into the lake together. For some reason or another, I suddenly got the feeling that we were approaching trees- I could hear the water narrowing down and lapping up against the shore. I had asked Sarah if I was correct in my assumptions about the approaching trees- her response was that the sun was in her eyes and she couldn’t see. Panicking about my impending doom, I started screaming.

Help! We are going to die! She can’t see, and neither can I!”

A bunch of people quickly rushed to our aid; however, according to them I was overreacting slightly. I didn’t agree.

Years later, a friend of mine met Sarah later on in life and apparently Sarah told the story that one she had assisted a blind lady row a boat and she had started panicking and screaming that they were going to die. My friend had found this so amusing because he had known my side of the story. Thankfully he didn’t say anything to her.

One of the funnier stories from that camp was when one night the councilors had decided that it would be an excellent idea to have a movie night. First of all, blind people cannot see, while certain movies are easier to follow because of the amount of dialog and sounds and the councilors assured us that they would be able to explain what was going on. However, it wasn’t until after they put the movie in that they realized that they had ordered a silent film. It was a good try. We never let them live that down.

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