Friday, May 6, 2016

What I Saw Through His Blindness

    It has been a while since I have posted something on my blog but it has been for a great reason.  I have experienced the joy of coaching the 1st Ever High School Girls Lacrosse Team of Thurston County.  It has been an amazing ride with these (26) young women but I have missed other parts of my life too.  I am excited to get back to writing and sharing some of my stories up in Seattle.  

     I'm jumping back in the saddle by having a guest blogger!  Acadia is my oldest daughter (16) and she is allowing me to share a recent story she wrote for school that was about a person of influence.  She is a wonderful person in so many ways and I am now learning that she is a very gifted writer.  I am so honored and touched that I have impacted her life in this way.  This story and impact on her puts another check in the column of the greatness that has come from my loss of vision.   I care deeply about being a great Dad to Acadia and Sierra and have worked very hard to be a person who can contribute positively to their lives in a meaningful way.  I was so happy to read this story.  I share this story not as 'look at me' but rather showing the world that what we deem as a disability or tragedy can actually be viewed as a gift.  

Thanks for writing and sharing this Acadia.  I Love You to Infinity times 2!

What I Saw Through His Blindness
“As a single dad, it must be hard juggling you two girls and a full time job.” Sarah Bear tells me in a calming voice. He is never late to pick me and my sister up from after school care, so I was concerned. Sarah has just received a phone call. I’m not sure who it’s from, even though my persistent little 7 year old self has asked her plenty of times.
            I later found out that my father, Keith, was late because he had been T-boned by a car on his bicycle. This was the first time his vision wasn’t the only problem. At the time, my parents had recently been divorced, so he moved into town and now bikes everywhere. Ew, biking everywhere. Who would do that to themselves? About a year ago, he had taken his annual trip up to the ophthalmologist and he was told that his vision decrease had become too severe, and it was no longer safe for him to be driving. As a kid, he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder that causes you to slowly lose your peripheral vision.
As a kid, he would have me cup my hands around my eyes. “This is how dad sees,” he would explain. “With my eyesight, if you stand anywhere but right in front of me, I can’t see you.” Maybe it is because I have gotten used to my father’s condition, because I have known about it for so long, but I find myself not taking it as seriously as I think I should.
With this “road block” put in his life, he has done a fantastic job of finding ways to ride around it. When I was 14, my dad and step-mother blessed me and my two siblings with a wonderful trip to 4 European countries; England, France, Germany, and Denmark. The time spent exploring and gaining culture and knowledge of the area through hands on experience was unforgettable.  When in Germany, we found it suiting to take a tour of the city to learn more about its rich history. With his vision, my dad uses a cane to navigate and let people know that he may not see them. I was tired from waking up early and walking all day, but I could still see my dad struggling. We were walking on cobblestone, which my dad’s cane got stuck in every other step. The graphite would bend so far back it was strained worse than a college kids paycheck.  This had been happening the whole trip, and he finally lost it. It was hard for me to see him break down because he is generally very good at having a positive outlook on anything that comes at him.

One of the many attributes I have always valued in my father is his ability to recognize his own faults, and never stop working on changing himself so he can become the best father he can be to his daughters. Through the many ways he has had to change his life due to his vision, he has always made the best of the new situations. Although simple daily activities, like getting from work to practice are not thought of twice to most people, he is constantly finding new and creative ways to get places. The day I realized that my father’s vision loss was more of a blessing than a curse, because of how he reacted to it, was the day I realized the way my father has raised me.  He has shown me that I can be anything I set my mind to. What I saw through his blindness was hope. Hope to push through my darkest times, and hope to always strive to be a better person. 
Acadia an I at her 16th Bday Party!