This first one is about my grandma.
GRANDMA THROUGH THE EYES OF A BLIND GIRL
By Nickie Coby
It is difficult to describe my Grandma! When asked to sum up in one word who and how
Grandma was for me, all I can say is "She was Grandma." Talking last night, my parents, my sister, my
pastor and I decided that the word for it was gracious. Grandma was gracious. She was polite and kind.
She loved life and she loved us.
When I was younger, she loved everything I did! I didn't have that many skills and it's very
safe to say that my projects were not that well done I wouldn't call them a work of art. Grandma always
loved my work. When she got sick with an intestinal blockage, I was in second grade. Every day, we got
fifteen minutes to eat snacks and play or draw. Everyday, I was encouraged to do things with my hands
such as playing with clay, gluing cotton balls to paper in the shape of a rabbit, etc. I always made get
well projects. They probably weren't much to look at, but Grandma always loved them! When we would
play games or play house or dolls, she was always happy to do it.
She taught me a lot about playing. Because I am blind, a lot of my toys made noise. I now
realize how annoying these things are, but she never told me so. If she was tired, she always excused
Another thing I remember about Grandma is how she always made the best of everything.
After her intestinal blockage, her stomach didn't want to cooperate, it was always making noises! I
remember how she laughed about it with me because I was young and those things were funny!
Since I'm blind, I can't look at pictures, so I'm making my own scrapbook of words. Each
snapshot is something that I remember about Grandma.
I remember how strong she was. One day we were playing and I started to sit on the floor and
play with some dolls or stuffed animals. She told me that we'd have to play on chairs that day because
her hip was hurting her. She said it was swollen and she took my hand and I felt it. You could distinctly
feel a little ball! I didn't know any better so when she said it would be better soon, we went on playing and
I didn't think much about it. A few days later my Grandma couldn't walk and we had to rent a wheelchair.
She was still willing to play! Like I said, I was little, I didn't understand that she was in pain. To me, it was
just another adventure. I will always appreciate the fact that she let it be that way to me! The next day
she went to the hospital she had broken her hip. The ball I had felt was the inside of her hip. This all
happened over a summer vacation before my first grade year. My grandparents were visiting from
Florida. Even through recovery, she was strong. I think she was still using a walker when I came home
from my first day of school. She still had time for me she listened to me tell all about my day. She let
me be excited that she and Grandpa were staying longer.
That year, she and Grandpa moved up to Minnesota so that if anything else happened, they
could be close and we could help them. After that, Grandma also took on the role of baby-sitter if my
parents needed one. She almost always had something fun for us to do. One day in second grade, my
class read a book about a boy who couldn't find a good Christmas present for his parents. Someone
suggested that he make Christmas Cookies. He did that but he used salt instead of sugar, needless to
say, the cookies were hard instead of soft. Since he had used cookie cutters, and the cookies were in
cool shapes, he gave them as paper weights instead. I recapped this story to Grandma and she
suggested that we make paper weights that way, too. I had a paper cut and the salt stung, but Grandma
knew just how to make that stop too.
Unfortunately, in May of my second grade year, Grandma got an intestinal blockage. She
was in a lot of pain. At first, they could not figure out what was wrong. Her second day in the hospital, my
dad picked my sister up from a Junior High orientation. He told her she really needed to come see
Grandma before they did some surgery. I didn't understand that they were concerned about her dying in
the surgery. I remember coming home that night very late, but Grandma was okay. Unfortunately, they
had to take out a lot of her intestine. They couldn't reattach it right away, I'm not sure why, so they put in
a bag for her waste. It was really a pain! The one thing was that even after she went home from the
hospital, she was weak. Soon, she went back into the hospital. They hooked her intestines back up to
the bladder and soon she was out of the hospital. After that, she was fairly weak. But always she kept
going, she kept calm and rarely complained.
I remember how Grandma read catalogs to me. When the Christmas catalogs came out,
Grandma would always read me the toy section. She would help me make up a Christmas list which is
something I might not have learned to do.
I also remember how Grandma would have little surprises for me. One day before Christmas,
I was at Grandma and Grandpa's. Grandma gave me a stuffed animal. She always had attention to
detail and knew about the little things.
I hope that these snapshots and memories have helped you to know my Grandma. I know
that writing about her has helped me to heal.
When, in the course of my life it becomes necessary for me to dissolve my connection to my own perceptions of what a blind teenager's life is, I must declare the causes which impel me to the separation.
I hold these truths to be self evident: that blindness is not a personality trait, blindness does not determine my status in life, every blind teenager has the right to be their own person, every blind teenager was born with the same rights responsibilities and abilities as their sighted peers.
To prove this I submit the following injustices to a candid world the perception of blindness has degraded the value of every blind teenager's life in the eyes of themselves and the sighted world, it has made blindness into a classification of people and caused blindness to become a barrier in success, it has taken away the freedom that every blind person possesses.
I, therefore, a representative of some blind teenagers, do declare my freedom and independents from the perceptions of blindness and assume all the responsibilities and consequence of that decision.
Most kids are a little bit frightened by their first mission trip, but I was petrified. I'm blind, and although I don't usually care that I'm different, this time I did. I had no idea how I was going to survive a week in Kentucky working on houses for people who can't repair them on their own. I knew that this was something I wanted to do, but a big part of me was screaming, "No! You can't do it! You can't even use a hammer." That was true, every time I tried to hammer a nail, I hit my other hand. I had tried to make jokes about my lack of hand-eye coordination, but the last time I'd tried, I'd quit in tears. How was I going to pull my own weight?
Another fear plagued me as our group drove that hot Friday in July: Was I going to fit in? I liked all of the kids in our group, but I'd never really been the type that had a booming social life, and I usually didn't feel comfortable around kids my own age.
On Sunday as we checked into the center (a school where we would stay for the next week), it seemed I would fit in. I started to talk to more of the kids in the group. But even as I relaxed, I still feared the next day, when we would start to work for the family our work crew had been asked to help. Our group would split up into three work crews, go to three different houses and work for three different families. Our crew would be doing several things, the largest of which was building a retaining wall.
I had no idea what a retaining wall was! I had to ask my dad, who was on a different work crew, to explain it to me. How was I going to build one?
I mentally grabbed myself by the arm and shook myself. You're here for a reason. God didn't just send you here for comic entertainment so you could fail and have everyone laugh! But even that didn't really calm my fears.
On Monday, it seemed my fears were realized. I had been assigned to work inside helping sheet rock. Since I use my touch more efficiently because I have no choice, I set to work sanding spots that had been mudded. I was so proud of myself… that is until I realized I'd sanded through all of the mud. My friends were very gracious, they assured me it would be okay, but by the end of the day, I was exhausted and dizzy. My determination to avoid water so I wouldn't have to ask for a rest room didn't help.
The next day I felt terrible. I could hardly move without nausea threatening to overtake me. I couldn't do anything for the entire morning. Thankfully, drinking lots of water and eating lunch helped. I was feeling well enough to work in the afternoon. We decided that maybe the sheet rock dust was making me ill, so I started to work outside to help build the retaining wall.
At first, I had no clue what to do. I wasn't really sure how to do any of the things that needed to be done. Eventually I realized that I could figure out how to use the sledge hammer if someone helped me aim. I figured that might help the other kids not have to use as much arm power. It worked. I was contributing to the team and surprising myself and the others.
On Wednesday, one of our team leaders suggested that I use a gardening hoe to help dig a trench. Once a trench was started, I would know where to chop at the dirt so it would fall into a loose pile that someone could easily scoop out of the trench. It worked, but I was having trouble because the hoe would flip over without me realizing and I wouldn't get anywhere. We discovered that by using a pen taped to the top of the handle, I could determine whether the hoe had flipped. After that, I started to feel like I was an important part of the team.
The week went on and I learned what it meant to really know the promise of Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength". The work was exhausting, and I had never been known for physical strength. But we'd pray and sing praise songs whenever we didn't think we could go any further, and somehow we'd find more strength.
God had ways of showing us He was there. He would send a breeze so we could cool down, and a butterfly just to show that He had His eye on us.
Once when I lost a pebble that our leader had given each of us to remind us that God was there when things got tough, and a coin that said "All things are possible with God", I felt extremely sad. I had loved that I could just reach into my pocket and be reminded that God was there. But the next day, after a very hard rainfall, one of my friends found them on top of the hill where we were building the retaining wall. To me, it was an awesome "God moment" that showed that God cares about every little thing.
By Friday, I'd learned how to use a pickax to chop rocks out of my way so I could dig. It was a sight that drove fear into the hearts of everyone on the work crew and made me really excited. I hadn't ever seen a pickax before and now I could use one!
At the end of the week, I felt sad that we couldn't do more, but excited to see what God could do. I figured that if He could teach this frightened blind girl how to use tools I'd never seen, like a pickax, He could definitely teach me how to be a stronger disciple.
I didn't say they'd be good.
Some of these have changed meaning I wrote them at a different point of my life