My mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration when she was in her 70’s. She kept it quiet for five years (in true mom fashion). Then she let us know that she was slowly losing her sight. By the time she died she was legally blind.
The funny thing was that I could never tell exactly what she could see. She always claimed to see the birds flying in and out of her favorite tree. I walked across the lawn one day and waved to her while she was sitting in the window. She waved back. And yet I’m sure she could not tell who I was when I approached her, unless I said something.
One of the first things she lost was her ability to see faces and read lips. Interestingly, this increased her inability to hear. I wonder if she had been slowly going deaf but had compensated for it by reading lips and expressions. Once she couldn’t do this anymore, she stopped being able to hear as well.
Despite this affliction (and I still think it was the meanest handicap she had to deal with), mom found beauty and art in everyday life. Even if she couldn’t see her favorite things, she knew they were there. She pictured them in her mind. (I always described this as “seeing it in my eyes”.)
In this day and age of visual representation at our finger tips, we tend to forget that art can be viewed, stored and remembered. We also forget that art is not just about the seeing, but the experiencing through all senses. Touch, smell, hearing, tasting…all of these senses are a gift with which to experience the world, and experience the art in the world. The only thing you need to do is make time for the experience.
I’m including this picture of mom on her wedding day. She was beautiful, young and could not see all the blessings and trials to come in her life. I always have been in awe of her natural beauty. The funny thing is that while she was able to take in much of the beauty around her, the one she couldn’t see was herself. She never thought she was all that good looking. I guess blindness comes in all forms.