by Beverly Castellini
Submitted by Mike Goldberg
Vermont Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Beverly is a sixty-nine year old woman who now lives in the family homestead in Hartland, Vermont. In the mid 1960’s, she and her husband, George, built their home on property which her ancestors purchased in this rural area in 1780.
When Beverly was in her mid 50’s, it became obvious to her that the family’s predisposition to macular degeneration seemed to be becoming a part of her life. One day she noticed that the lines in the baseboard looked warped. After that, when she paid attention, all baseboards seemed warped. Her condition continued to decline, and with the assistance of her eye doctor’s grid, it was determined that she did have macular degeneration.
Not withstanding her visual challenge, Beverly still needs to express, in her writing, her hopes and dreams. She has a strong urge to share with the world her literary gifts through her factual and fictional writing. In the article, “Blessings on My Path”, Beverly relates her experiences, both bad and good.
Macular degeneration is something I had heard about all my life because my mother’s family had experienced it before it was popular. Macular degeneration was genetically imposed on me in middle age. I was surprised because I felt too young to walk down a blind path.
For a year or two, waking up each morning was painful. I would open my eyes and think, “Oh, no! I don’t want to be blind!” Now, even though my sight is still deteriorating, I cheerfully say, “Good morning!” I smile as I swing my legs over the side of the bed. I scramble round for two slippers. I find one of them, and my other foot is searching round when I hit my dog’s soft muzzle. Jade doesn’t complain but stands and stretches before following me as I go to the kitchen.
Now, I face the first challenge of the day- making my morning pot of coffee. I reach and find the coffee canister. I pick up some coffee with the scoop in my right hand. First, I put my left index finger into the scoop. Is the scoop full? If it is, this is my first big success. With my thumb as my guide, I fill the coffee pot.
While the coffee is brewing, I go to the bathroom and wash my hands and face. Brushing my teeth is more tricky than brushing my hair. I’ve learned to squirt the toothpaste onto my finger and to check the toothbrush to make sure that the bristles are pointed at my teeth and not pointed at my upper lip nor at my nose. This may seem absurd, but the backside of the toothbrush won’t do too much to make my teeth sparkle!
The coffee is brewed! I pour myself a cup. Before pouring, I pause for a second to make sure the cup is right side up!
The coffee was good. Now, I have enough energy to walk down my blind garden path, but, first, I need to hitch Jade. Now, I can give all my attention to the beauty ahead. I trip over a rock on the way. And I do stumble! This hurts so badly- so much- that I can’t do anything except wish to cry. However, I can’t walk down the path with tears in my eyes, for I will, probably, stumble more. But I will keep walking slowly so that I won’t trip too many times.
I do fall on the green grass, which is comforting. It is soft and sweet. I will sit here and enjoy my sense world. I breathe in the smell of the sweet clover, and I rub a stone and feel its smoothness. Above my head, I hear a robin scolding me, asking me to move away from her nest high up in the branches. My left foot stubs a persistent stone and disturbs it, bringing worms to light. I move on quietly. I don’t want to alarm that robin nor her babies. I reach the foot of the path. I stand, looking out across the meadow. I hear in the distance the water from the small stream trickling down from the pine forest. I see the fields dotted with daisies and black-eyed susans. I feel the eyes of the daisies and of the black-eyed susans, and they stare back at me. I am slightly jealous of their seeing eyes!
There was a shower in the night, so it causes the brook to trickle a little more loudly. That water and the early morning dew make my sneakers squish. I almost enjoy the sound. I watch my footsteps as I move around the wild buttercups. A small grey toad hops across my path and moves away. I take two steps and move homeward. On my left, the toad inspects the bleeding hearts. They politely bow to him. The coral bells sway in the gentle breeze. I can’t hear them, but I do hear my dog, Jade, calling me home.
I step through the wooden gate and say “Goodbye”, to the flowers, the toad, and the robins. Back in my kitchen, I pour myself another cup of coffee and count my blessings!