Thank you for rejoining Verna, Buster and me as we
explore the dimensions of seeing beyond vision loss.
between Verna Letourneau’s appointments, visits and meetings was a hand-drawn
flower on her jumbo-sized calendar.
does this mean?” I asked my vision mate.
smiled shyly. “That’s my birthday.”
celebrate it next week. I’ll bring a cake.”
asked her to pick a date for my next visit. She pointed to the flower.
visit began on a troubling note. I found Verna in her garden with her friend
Colleen when I arrived. They were discussing how to fill a large sinkhole in
the front yard. I soon learned why. The previous weekend, Verna had slipped on
the uneven ground and hit her head on a large flagstone. She needed multiple
stitches to stop the bleeding.
she might have compromised the little vision she still had in her left eye, her
doctor had referred her to an eye specialist in London. The appointment was scheduled for the
nothing was going to stop Verna from celebrating her 77th birthday. Apart
from the fact she wore a baseball cap 24/7, no one would have guessed anything
asked Colleen to join our little party. It was a collective effort. Verna
provided the tea and napkins and cake lifter. I supplied the cake, paper plates
and plastic cutlery. Out of nowhere, Colleen produced a gift, a t-shirt emblazoned
with a retriever that looked exactly like Buster, Verna’s beloved guide dog.
She was delighted.
we enjoyed our cake and tea, we joked about all the nutritional rules we were
breaking and all the calories we’d have to wear off on our afternoon walk. For
more than an hour, we chatted about our families, friends, backgrounds, what
was important to us and what made us happy. It felt as if we’d known one
another for years. No one wanted to get up from the table and break the spell.
knew we needed exercise. So Verna put on Buster’s guide dog harness and off we
was newly watchful of what was underfoot. Fallen acorns, for example, make it
difficult to walk for a person with limited vision. Unexpected breaks in the concrete
can be a hazard. (There was no need to worry about intersections, oncoming
walkers, or traffic. Buster handled those beautifully.)
left, Verna and Colleen were talking about what a good day it had been and
devising plans to make the garden safe.
to Verna’s resilience, my second visit had been more fun than I dared hope.
Nevertheless I drove home with a nagging concern about her eye appointment.
phoned me the next day to thank me for the birthday celebration and report that
the eye specialist had given her the all-clear – in that order.
Celebrating special events are one of the ways a
vision mate can make life brighter for a blind or partially sighted individual.
Other good activities include reading, walking, assisting with mail and traveling
on public transportation.
A vision mate cannot
drive a CNIB client and should not cook, clean, provide personal care, give
medical advice or offer counseling. Beyond that, the shape of the relationship
is up to the partners.
Learn more about volunteering for CNIB and our Vision Mate program here, or call CNIB on telephone 1-800-563-2642.