So it is fast approaching 5 years since I lost my sight, which is always a hard time. The what if’s and buts always pop up to say hello. On a plus side in the same week it will be 4 years since I got partnered with Quasia.
I have always tried very hard to limit the impact of my sight lost on my family.
I have said before that my youngest Daughter Bethany has grown up with my sight lost and being around a guide dog. At her parents evening the teacher mentioned that when walking she was always talking, mention stairs, bushes etc and that the teacher didn’t like it. I mentioned that what Bethany was actually doing was being a sighted guide and it was a life skill that helped visually impaired people get around safely. The teachers attitude suddenly changed.
So onto what happened. Both my girls help a child that fell over in the street and they made their father rather proud in that they showed compassion so freely. To encourage this I decided to get them both something has way of a reward. So this morning I reserved a couple of toys online at Argos (other toy shops are available on request). Quasia and myself set off to our local store to pick them up. We walked up the high street avoiding the A boards and street clutter and arrived at the store. I gave the reservation number off my IPhone and the lady put it though the till. She then went on to ask all the usual questions and then stated she thought it was great that I did the shopping. I made light of it that Quasia was crap at shopping unless I was with her.
So it carries on educating people that just because people are visually impaired they do lead a normal life, sometimes with the help of a guide dog, sometimes by themselves and sometimes with the help of their little daughter
So both myself and Quasia have been under quite a lot of stress over the past few weeks. I won’t go into the why and what for but for 1 of the few times in my life it has taken over somewhat. When I had sight I would run until it was gone, not so easy when you are blind and a tread mill just isn’t the same. Quasia tried to make a difference has usual trying to walk me to death and always being there.
At 3AM this morning I was sat listening to my Grandfather journal has I often do, he wrote most days of is adult life. A lot of my sayings are his and my father says most of my attitude is too.
My Grandfather went though WW2 and witnessed a lot of things that no one should have too. He wrote of hope and that even in the darkest pits human kindness could be found, to never give up. Hope comes first from within.
So this morning we went and found a big hill and climbed it,” better s rainy day on a hill than a sunny one in a office” has one of my T-shirts says.
Life can be hard at times but there is always the ember of hope, just hard finding it some days, but other days it helps to warm you just that bit.
So most of last week was spent preparing and doing the “Park It Don’t Plonk It”
So what is PIDPI, basically it has been set up between our local police (West Midlands Police) & Guide Dogs. It promotes good parking, not only discouraging pavement parking but encouraging sensible parking where ever they park. A warning ticket is placed on cars that are not properly parked. It has been designed to look like a parking ticket. It carries info on why not to block pavements and who they are effecting. It was decided to try and educate before punishing/ fining them. I really like the idea and worked with Laura from Guide Dogs and the police to get it set up and the media attention to let everyone know about the PIDPI. We went on BBCWM and got photographed and video to within a inch of our lives.
We did most of this on a open street and a lot of the residents came out to see what was happening and liked the idea. We even let the Sargent from Sedgley a long white cane walk and he was truly amazed how difficult pavement parking makes someone else’s life. As a WPC from Somerset says ” if you think you need to park on the pavement to stop an obstruction, should you be parking there at all”.
Park It Don’t Plonk It, it’s just better for everyone.
As a young child one of my grandfathers liked to “do the right thing”. He always used to say it to me that as I grew I would understand more. His doing the right thing put a big strain on all the family, with us all having to make massive life style changes. As a teenager I preferred to do my own thing. When I became a parent I pushed forward, cut out a lot of things, took a bit more care, reduced the risk as it were. I started to understand what my grandfather has said all those years ago.
In my 20’s I used to see what was wrong, but always thought someone else would put it right. In my 30’s I was too busy trying to provide to be worried about putting things right.
Now in my 40’s the world is seen differently for me now. I might not see though my eyes but I am more aware of the world around me. “Doing the right Thing” is now an everyday thing. Reporting things that are wrong, pavement parking, refusal of services and all the little things that make visually impaired lives that little harder.
So why write this blog you wonder. One of my uncles spoke to me today asking how things were going and how Quasia was working etc. he then went on to say that my Grandfather was right about me, I had the fight inside of me to do right thing I just needed something to bring it out. Strange how a accident that impacted my life so much and changed the course of my life could bring something out. My uncle added at the end of the call how proud my grandfather would have been to see what a father I had become and how I had grown into a gentleman who not only knew the difference between right and wrong, but was willing to stand up for what was right. He ended the call with and you know what Karl you have made me very proud too.
So it seems it took an accident for me to be able to do the right thing
With everything that has been going on in the lead up to 6th June and the D-Day landings. I was reading a journal that had be left me. A friend had it transcribed into electronic format a while ago. Every once in a while I listen to some. The saying “you can not know who you are, until you know where you come from”, comes to mind. The journal dated 7th June 1944 talks about jumping into the cold water and wading up towards the beach ” people all around, noise, shouting, bullets flashing past. The passage then went on to talk about it being the ” loneliest walk” they have ever made. Some might think it strange that with so many around they felt alone.
Suffering sight loss can be loneliest walk too but usually without the bullets. You become so focused on where you need to be that you zone out certain things, you become so focused on listening for cars that children’s laughter gets lost. You seat down in a pub and can listen to everyone conversation all at the same time and then spend all your time trying not to.
Blindness can be very socially isolating at times, you sit down people all around you but never saying hello. A Guide Dog goes some way to bridging the gap, a lot of people usually ask about your dog and you get a bit of conversation which is usually welcome.
So next time you see someone alone a kind hello will probably not kill anyone but might just make that bit of a difference to someone’s day. My Grandfather always used to say ” Education is the foundation that society is built on”. To educate someone that blindness is not catching is a worthy occupation in my mind. I know I am very lucky that my walks are rarely lonely now days with Quasia by my side.
So on a dull Sunday morning my 8 year old daughter asked me the question “Dad what is your greatest strength “, she had been watching something on TV.
I thought about the question, mulled it over for a short while and answered “my will to do and achieve”. I then also added it is also my greatest weakness. Now my daughter was having a problem understanding why my answer was both the good and bad part of my character. I explained to be determined is not a bad thing has long as you consider the impact to others. I went on to explain about the fundraising group that I am Co Ordinator of for Guide Dogs and how it was a team effort not just all my work. That we all put in to the group, we all had ideas & what is more we all share the work load. I went on to explain that I was determined to succeed but had learnt not at all costs. That because I was determined it helped others to push themselves forward and achieve what they needed too.
We are in the process of planning something for Guide Dogs week in the first week of October. If it comes off has we are all hoping it could be a real game changer for our group. Now I may of had the original idea but the core of our fundraising group have taken up on it and are moving forward with it. So from something that has always been my greatest weakness I am gaining strength from others and it is quickly becomes a us side of my character. All this from a simple question from a 8 year old, you learn so much from children.