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Julie Bentley
REALTOR®, GRI, U.S. Military on the Move® Certified Military Specialist, Senior Real Estate Specialist®, LeadingRE Marketing Specialist, LeadingRE Relocation Specialist, LeadingRE Sales Specialist, LeadingRE Service Expert, e-PRO®, C2EX
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Email Post to a Friend: What My Father's Blindness Helped Me See

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January
13

[This blog was originally published in January, 2013]

A brief phone conversation with my mother, about golf, gave me reason to believe that my father would find a way to cope in his newly-dark world.

My father is a strong, proud man who worked his entire life to provide for his family. He and my mother raised four children and have always been actively involved in the lives of their grandchildren and in their community.  I've often told people that my dad's greatest joys in life are his family, his well-kept home and gardens and his good health.  When my family made our annual visit to New England to visit my parents last summer all of their children and most of their grandchildren were able to gather to celebrate Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary. During that same visit my dad and I played a round of golf together as we had been doing at least once a year over the past twenty years.

man on golf course holding clubSuddenly and unexpectedly, late in the summer my father experienced a brief illness that left him completely blind. One week he was working, tending to his home and gardens, enjoying catch and Frisbee with his grandchildren and participating in a weekly golf league. The very next week he was completely blind. While his health crisis passed, his loss of vision was permanent.

The loss was devastating.  My dad, one of the most active and independent people I know, was suddenly and completely reliant upon other people to do things as simple as putting toothpaste on his brush, choosing clothing, answering the telephone and finding his way around the home he had lived in for almost five decades. His life was forever changed and while he remained upbeat and positive with his family and friends, we all knew he was suffering. When I spoke with my parents during this time I could hear uncertainty, fear and sadness in their voices.

I planned a trip home to visit with and help my parents. A few days prior to my trip I summoned up the courage to ask my dad if he would go out on the golf course with me. I told him we would take a cart instead of walking, and because he knows the course so well I thought he may enjoy being on it and having me describe where we were and how well (or poorly) I was hitting the ball. When Dad politely declined, saying it was just too soon for him, I understood completely. In fact I was even a bit relieved as I had been nervous that if he had accepted my invitation, seeing my father in such a vulnerable and helpless position on the golf course might be more than I could handle.

The night before I left for my trip my mother called to say that my father had changed his mind and wanted me to bring my golf gear. Dad had decided he might want to get out on the golf course after all, and that it might be good for both of us. That was the exact moment I knew that my father would adapt to his blindness and not let it defeat him. Things were, in fact, going to be okay.

Just a few weeks after he lost his vision, I played a round of golf  with my courageous blind father. We were on a course he had played hundreds of times and he kept his bearings the entire time. On long holes he would tell me what tree or other landmark to aim toward; on fairways if I described a nearby tree, water hazard or stone wall he could tell me how far I was from the green. For most holes I would drop a ball near where I landed on the green, get him lined up with his putter, then crouch near the cup and talk so he could aim toward my voice. On a par-3 hole I teed up a ball for him and aligned him with the green. After a few unproductive swings he connected his club with the ball and drove it just short of the green. My dad may be blind, but he is no quitter.

My father would love to be able to see once again, even if for only a few hours. He has dreamt of regaining his vision for a day and of all the things he would look at. Nobody can give him the gift of sight again but his blindness has made it clear for all of us to see how love, courage and perseverance can win the round every time.

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