Mobility Matters, Stepping Out in Faith is Amy Bovaird‘s story of adjusting to life after Retinitis Pigmentosa robbed her of enough sight to make her legally blind. Amy addresses her struggles with forthright humour and I could see myself doing the same things (but with a far less degree of humility and grace). For example, Amy writes about her introductory conversation with Bob, the man who would become her mobility instructor.
“Bob, I run into tables and open cupboard doors and miss steps. I walk into walls and bump my head on my breakfast bar.”
“Are you legally blind?”
“I’m not sure.” Twenty years earlier, when I was diagnosed, the doctor said as much.
Yes, like Amy, I suspect I too would have denied it for two decades. However, Amy and I first became acquainted not through her book but because we both participated in an online writing challenge. We became acquaintances and, I like to think now, friends. I have come to know how little she lets stand in her way. Amy will often post on Facebook that she is “Going for a run.” I’ve yet to figure out how she does that. I am not legally blind, though I’m not certain if there is a legal status for clumsiness. I do not run. It’s a thing. Amy does it as a legally blind person. I think she’s always done it. She enjoys it.
She has seen the world in ways I’ll never hope to. She has lived on more continents and in more countries than I even hope to visit. She continues to write, even though if she’s reading, “printed words will break up and disappear, and then fall into place a minute later. It’s maddening.” Yes, it is. I’ve struggled with my own reading lately, though I know it’s a temporary thing. I often wonder what I would do, how I would cope, if I couldn’t see the birds I love so much.
As much as I appreciated Mobility Matters for what I learned about coping with vision loss, the thing that impacted me most was the other condition Amy lives with. Amy can’t hear without the assistance of hearing aids.
My mother can’t hear, even with them. In spite of what I think they may bring to her life–me, a hearing person–my mother once told me they don’t make anything clearer, but the hearing aids only make the muffle louder. Amy writes,
“By the time evening came around, I wanted to rip them out of my ears. When I climbed the steps to my apartment, the jarring footstep on each stair sounded like it came from a giant instead of a ninety-eight pound girl. The voice on the radio hit me as if someone shouted through a loudspeaker right next to me. The ticking of the clock sounded like someone slamming down a hammer at precise and even intervals. At 10:00, I took them out and finally got a break. I rubbed my ears and lay down wondering how I’d stand it for the rest of my life.”
I found myself rereading the passages about Amy’s hearing loss several times. My mother has needed her hearing aids–and, I venture, hated every single minute–for decades. I think I finally understand why we argued over them. Why she pretended she could hear when we knew she couldn’t. Why we selfishly thought it was all about us.