Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas: Let's talk about Blindness

For visual interest, or such as RantWoman can orchestrate, RantWoman offers an image originally created by one of RantDad's college classmates and then rendered many times in felt by the RantFamily for Christmas presents.  Much later it was also rendered many times in stained glass by Rev. Recorder Student, a now long-retired Presbyterian minister whose recorder lessons wound up being as much mental health counseling as RantDad ever got anywhere near.

Mary and Josepht and Baby Jesus under a star

RantWoman does not particularly apologize if the comments below do not seem cute and cuddly and suitable for Baby Jesus. Hello. The family was caught up in need to fulfil some civic duty of the empire. King Herod was about to put a hit out on the child. Somehow RantWoman hopes if they could handle all that, the narrative can also handle RantWoman and her Inner Blowtorch.

Among the conversational Christmas presents coming RantWoman's way:

Putting in frequent repeat appearances:
RantWoman, my mother / grandmother / Cousin Fred / Aunt Tillie...seems to be having more difficulty with vision. Should the person still be driving?

NO! We should all live in compact pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods where people can get what they need easily on their own or be well-served by supportive neighbors and good delivery options.
And we should all have the sense to move there on our own before our bodies fall apart.

Excuse me?
Oh Wait: This is not only a blindness question. Aging also does a number on hearing, reflexes, general responses. Aging can add new tics and tremors. And, as RantMom said about Grandpa Farmer, having to quit driving without ways to maintain important social ties can be devastating.

But the more important problem: How the hell should RantWoman know? RantWoman is probably not acquainted with the person you are asking about. Nor does RantWoman have the right letters behind her name to offer official evaluations. RantWoman does know questions to ask. RantWoman is also aware of a couple people's life issues that she would prefer to bypass opportunities to collect data about. But really, if you are worried about someone and driving, talk to their doctor. Or talk to the local DMV / Dept of Licensing or whatever it is called in the affected person's area.


RantWoman, we have this friend who we think has struggled her whole life about vision things and who says lots of things are hard. May we give her your phone number?

Sure, of course, but meanwhile, RantWoman will send you a whole email full of all kinds of terminological brain dump and questions.

Uhhhh, RantWoman I do not know the answers to all of that.

RantWoman, swallowing a GIANT chill pill: Honestly, it's okay that you don't know the answers. RantWoman herself got the baptism by fire course in all the terminology and processes she referred to. RantWoman has been, believe it or not, pretty sparing about blindness tourism about some of those topics.

But look, this person knows you and trusts you, and every single strand of terminology RantWoman mentioned involves terrifying realities and endless disruptions to other people's concept of normal life. So maybe, what would it mean to walk alongside and ask your friend what she finds hard or what she is scared about? RantWoman is happy to answer questions one or two at a time and happy to tell you or you and your friend about different resources. And no, it does not all happen all at once. And yes, being able at least somewhat to walk alongside will really mean  a lot!


(Digested from vocal ministry in Meeting for Worship.)
RantWoman, we live in a building with a lot of blind people and we see them coming and going a lot. The other day my son asked me to tell him something about Jesus and I told him the story about Jesus meeting a blind man and curing him by spitting onto the ground, making some mud, and smearing the mud in the man's eyes.


First we peel RantWoman off the ceiling, just on principle. We remind RantWoman that story is only one of many annoying passages about blind people in the Bible, a point RantWoman at some point will feel called to elaborate in more detail. Nor is it by far the only available story about Jesus with or without blind people.

Next, we sit with RantWoman's recurring urge to have tirades about Grab the Blind Person and Bless Them. Not to mention that smearing spit-filled mud into someone's eyes is even more objectionable that just grabbing them.

RantWoman does recall reading somewhere that the smear mud in eyes does have SOME basis in biomedical reality for some very specific blindness condition, but there are an awful lot of other conditions that treatment would not help for. This includes for instance RantWoman's particular strands of DNA lotto. It probably also includes the conditions affecting most of the blind people who come to stay in your building while they are learning "skills of blindness" at what RantWoman colloquially refers to as "Blind School."
So um, RantWoman would like to leave it up to you and God to figure out what or what else you should tell your son about Jesus or blindness either one, but awhile ago RantWoman penned some tips for a family who used to live near another location where a lot of blind people come and go. Perhaps RantWoman's comments will suggest other things to talk to your son about or to help him talk about.

--Do you or your son notice that people might have different kinds of whiate canes and that they might use them differently? For example, some people tap their canes and some people only carry them. Often it is okay to notice and to ask questions. at least to you; use your judgment about asking people directly. Some are fine answering
questions; some might be in a hurry or just not in a mood to talk. It's also definitely fine to ask RantWoman questions. RantWoman actually LIKES questions a whole lot better than several possible flavors of thoughtless pronouncements

--Does your son notice anyone at Meeting who uses a white cane, besides RantWoman whose cane likes to hide and take a nap? Agaain, you and your son are welcome to ask RantWoman more about the cane. There is at least one other person right now who sometimes comes with her cane. There is someone else who has moved away but used to bring her seeing eye  dog.

--Do you and your son see anyone around your building who has a seeing eye dog? Does your son know not to talk to or pet the dog without asking its owner's permission first?

--RantWoman does not remember whether your son was in First Day school the day RantWoman came to talk about vision issues. Our very inspired preschool teacher made two kinds of play-doh, both of them white. One smelled like peppermint and one like vanilla so kids could practice telling things apart only by smell.

   RantWoman brought some different baggies of white things that we could only tell apart by texture. Well for a joke RantWoman included a bag of brown pinto beans as well as the bag of white beans. We also talked a little about why it can be hard to telldifferent colors apart and practiced writing names on different colors of notecards. RantWoman would be curious to know whether your son remembers any of this and what made an impression.

   RantWoman and the Friend with the Seeing Eye dog also talked to the school age First Day school. NEVER try to compete with a dog.

--And one more tip: RantWoman confuses people because she can mostly get around without bumping into people, but RantWoman has a really hard time telling people apart. So it's always a big help if kids say Hi to RantWoman AND also say their names.

Anyway, RantWoman would consider it a great blessing if you could please go easy on the smear mud in eyes thing and think more broadly about blindness, vision loss, God's love!


No comments:

Post a Comment