By Peter Felton
There once was a man who lived a very happy and healthy life, of course, old age came with certain medical conditions, but manageable. By the time he was 64, he had lived a full and happy life, he had built his houses, harvested his lands, settled his children and grandchildren, and now he had retired peacefully, maintaining a quiet translating job, where he took only as needed and just enough to sustain his wife and himself.
His weekdays were peaceful and quiet, spent reading or translating, and in rest. He had a passion to work in his 2-acre garden, filled with flowers and trees. He had a green thumb, so early mornings and early evenings were devoted to his beloved garden.
It showed through his produce. He boasted supple juicy tomatoes, and spicy chilies, dark green spinach, ginger, cinnamon, and many small items in his vegetable patch. He also harvested bananas and papaya, fresh, healthy and 100% genuine, with no pesticides. Lunches and dinners were colorful and tasty. Proudly he showed off his harvest, as he sat at the head of the table, taking in his hard work, and watching his children and grandchildren enjoy a good, pure, healthy meal.
Afternoons were for quiet time. A nap here, some TV there, maybe a book or two. It was to gather up the strength to go out into the garden again in the evening.
Despite being retired, he was still a hardworking man, always lending a hand in household chores, he was the handyman, plumber, electrician, everything rolled up in one, and he was content, and happy, and he thought this was how he would be spending the rest of his life.
Unfortunately, things never remain the same for long periods.
One morning he woke up with a feeling deep in the pit of his stomach that something was not right. The hairs on his hand were sticking up, straight up, his pulse was racing, and his flesh felt hot to the touch, so hot that he felt fumes billowing out of his nostrils as he breathed in and out. His eyelids fluttered open but all he can see is a dull light that seemed to be rapidly fading. He tried to hold on to the light, but within a matter of minutes, everything was in pitch darkness.
Rubbing his eyes, he stumbles towards the bathroom, trying to grasp anything close by, but he grabs into thin air. His wife catches him just before he hits the floor, panic in her eyes, but he cannot see it. He cannot see anything, for he had overnight lost his most beloved possession, his eyesight.
Losing one’s eyesight is one of the worst possible outcomes of life. Close your eyes, now imagine you cannot open them again? Imagine the amount of panic at that moment you feel. How helpless you are when you hear familiar sounds but are unable to put pictures together with the sounds to make an image? Not being able to see your loved ones? It’s heartbreaking.
So a battery of tests and medication was commenced. He tried everything including some painful injections to the eye. Each treatment giving him a false sense of hope, but to no avail. Nothing changed. Until finally he was officially declared as blind. He was devastated. Now every facility he visited gave him the bad news. No one was able to find out why he had lost his eyesight, even though he visited some of the best surgeons in the country. Money wasn’t an issue. He had many relatives, who wanted to help him regain his eyesight, but money cannot buy everything, and in his case, no amount of money would give him the sight he so badly wanted. Once you lose something, you realize its value, and for him, he had lost something priceless. Everything he knew and did depend on his eyes, and now all visible was a hollow blank look, no focus, no life, just a dead direct look that had lost its fire.
Slowly he fell into a deep depression. He didn’t feel like waking up anymore. The once active head of the family now spent most of his time in bed, going through a series of emotions, sadness, frustration, anger, euphoria, it continued day and night. Everything became pointless. He had no will to continue living but this wasn’t a disease that ended in ultimate death. For him that would have been a better option, knowing that death was imminent, but to live like this was heart-wrenching torture for him, and he spent days and night battling with himself, withdrawing into silence. A once happy and active man now lay death-like in bed. He had lost the will to live.
This continued for many days, and no one was able to get him out of this state. Until one day, he himself made up his mind that he had no choice but to accept it and move on with his life.
With his mind made up, and a renewed sense of purpose in his mind, he spoke with his family and collectively they decided to make certain changes into their lives. First of which was to make sure that a routine arrangement of the furniture was put in place so that he could picture it in his mind and maneuver his way around the house. The first few days were torture filled with many tears and angry outbursts, but slowly he learned with every mistake until finally, he was able to get to places within the house without help. This independence went a long way mentally for him. He needed this.
Next, he wanted to be able to read again, and since braille would take time, he opted for a device that had audio books loaded into it. All his favorites were there. So now, he was able to listen and enjoy his most beloved books once again.
Evening walks became a thing again, though now it was a team effort, shared with either his son or his wife, he began to enjoy the company. The time together brought around a renewed respect for his family members and a stronger relationship with them. He still has to feel his flowers, touch the tree barks, and smell the odors of fresh earth and grass around him. His other senses began to heighten and now he was able to experience more than what he as before the loss of his eyesight.
Working proved to be a hassle since he needed to read to be a translator, but instead of giving up, he recruited an assistant, fixed up a spare room as a comfortable office, and now was able to go on as usual, albeit a bit slower, but still thorough and satisfactory. Having a means of earnings was a big relief for him since he was a seriously independent soul and hated being dependent on anyone.
Travelling still was a bit of an issue, but not outdated. With help, he still managed to go to his favorite places such as the beach. Emotionally he still had ups and downs. Having had eyesight before, it was hard adjusting to the darkness. However, he knew he couldn’t let it define him. So he had to be hard on himself, and with a lot of help from outside, he somehow went through his days.
He somehow turned his darkness into a light not physically visible to him, but glaring to everyone around him. This is the story of one of my closest friends. Moreover, if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. Maybe not limited to blindness, but this world is full of negativity and often we fall prey to illness, financial troubles, relationship issues, accidents, we lose loved ones, the list is endless and your story will be unique to mine.
He is currently legally blind. The main reasons were high pressure and diabetes. It’s hardly a year since he went blind. My friend is still translating using an assistant and earning his finances and surviving his wife solely through this mode of work.
He still has bouts of anger and depression has not stopped his search for sight. The next step in treatment will be an eye transplant, which is currently in the works. However, he is a different person to what he was before.
He has three grandchildren out of which he has never seen his 5-month-old newborn grandson.
However, I hope this story helps anyone who needs to hear it, to power through adversity, and to come out the victor instead of giving into the darkness. The power lies within yourself and how you take charge of your life to move above into the light despite your circumstances.