This was originally posted on May 28, 2016, at 4:43 PM on Blogger.
“Do you want some?” I’m asked, as a bowl is thrust into my hands.
“What is it?” I reply, a little startled.
“Just eat it.”
For a fully-sighted person, or simply someone with better vision than mine, they might be able to make a guess as to the contents of the bowl. I, however, do not possess enough vision to do this. So I ask again, and am met with:
“You don’t want it?”
“Well, I don’t know what it is.”
At this point, I’m either told, with great irritation what it is, or it’s taken away to be offered again later, with an agitated explanation of what it is.
“Here, smell this.” She might say sometimes, quickly brushing something beneath my nose.
I lift my hand to hold it, figure out what it is, and position it better for optimal sniffing, but my hand is pushed aside.
“Just smell it.”
* * *
Those, my darling readers, weren’t the actions of some ignorant person on the street. But, rather, the actions of my ignorant mother. It sounds harsh, I know, but it is truth. The incidents above have been happening for as long as I can remember.
It’s happened a few times with other people, maybe not strangers but family members I don’t know as well. Perhaps they view it as a sort of game. I don’t. And if I express any discontent, it’s never met with understanding, at least from my mother.
The vignettes above are only two examples of her… lack of understanding, I guess. It’s a phrase you probably wouldn’t expect from the parent of a legally blind person. But it’s more common than you might think.
With regard to some things, my father’s understanding and approach to my vision is better than my mother’s: he’s always pushed for me to ask for Braille menus at restaurants (an early form of advocacy), he used to describe the placement of my food as though the plate were a clock face (I always forget to ask where he learned that), and, as I discovered on Thursday, he agrees with my attitude and is entertained by the encounters I have with strangers. That last is was discovered during a conversation we-my mother, father, godfather, and I-had on our drive home from my dorm. I was regaling them with tales of people grabbing my arm at street corners, or grabbing my arm and insisting that I sit on public transportation, or grabbing my arm… well, this could go on for a while. But the conversation had started after my mom had expressed embarrassment when I asked for a Braille menu in the restaurant we’d gone to. She’d said it once in the restaurant, and then again in the car. It always embarrassed her when I did it, she said, to which my father responded: “she’s entitled to it.”
She also expressed “embarrassment” at my responses to strangers. When I tell someone I don’t need help, or that I don’t wish to be prayed for. She feels I should just go with it. They mean well. I should know when to ask for help, there was nothing wrong with that. She didn’t want to acknowledge, however, that there was a difference between soliciting assistance and being offered it, often forcefully, regardless of whether or not I need it.
She cited a few instances, even one that I happened to write about a few years ago. Check it out here if your interested.
Some of my mother’s actions and beliefs can be attributed to typical parental behavior. She worries about me traveling, okay, normal. She still checked in on and warns my twenty-eight-year-old sister about travel hazards. She even still looks over and commented while my sister is cooking, offering often unwanted opinions. But she doesn’t follow my sister downstairs, and take the box of juice out of her hands to pour it.
So, all of that to say… it looks like I’m back home. And as you can tell, I’m none to excited about it. But at least my sister understands (even though she’s gone this first, painful weekend, she’ll be back). And my Godmother will be visiting in a few weeks.
I’m not going on any vacations: just working and taking a summer class. So I’ll be dealing with arguments over traveling (the three straight blocks to the train station), cooking/getting food for myself, talking on the phone late (if she hears my voice in the hall), etc, for the next two months.
Yay me (London Tipton voice)… I hope you guys get that reference.
Well, happy Memorial Day (weekend)