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A Matter of Perspective

Updated on November 30, 2012

What Do You See?

She was 4’11” tall. Her hair, red, hung down her back past her waist. She was almost as round as she was tall. Her smile was inviting. Yet, she stood alone. She stood, rotating her body from side to side, hoping against hope someone would speak to her. You see, she wore large black glasses because she had no vision, physically.

I saw her from across the room and made my way over to where she stood. I felt like an idiot. I did not know what to say to her. Duh. Like “hello” would have been out of line?

I opened my mouth and said “Hi! My name is Pixie and I have to be honest here, I’ve never talked to a blind person before.”

She laughed a delightful laugh that I would come to love and cherish. “Well,” she said, “My name is Missy and I can hear, so you don’t have to yell. I simply cannot see.”

We struck up a conversation and became best of friends until the day she died. I never thought much about our age difference. She was ten years my senior. We both brought unique needs to the relationship.

I came to learn that this awesome woman could do everything but see, (and drive a car, although once in her past she did drive a car). She was a member of Mensa. She was writing a book. She would stand on a stool in order to fold her sheets. She sang and she played the piano; she watched TV and listened to books on tape avidly. She traveled continents on her own.

I learned a lot from my dear friend who was in love with my family. When my fourth child was born, she was the first to hold him. She off-offhandedly said “This is the first baby I have ever held. No one believes I can actually hold a little one.”

It was then, for the first time, that I noticed that she did not actually have a lap. Her physical condition was not who she was, but simply a part of what she was. I was not worried that she would drop my baby. She was Missy.

Needless to say, she held that baby boy a lot and when he was 8 years old she was hugging him a lot. I sometimes wondered if he did not get as much out of the hugs as she did.

She taught my daughter to play the piano in a most unusual way. First she had her marching around her house to a certain cadence. Then she taught her one song. My daughter wanted to enter a talent contest, and The Piano Man was the only song she wanted to learn. (She did quite well in the contest; Good student, good teacher.)

Once when Missy and I went to the store, I noticed that people parted the way for her and made a special path. We quite quickly were in and out with all of her grocery needs for the week. When we got outside, she reached up and patted my arm and laughed and said, “Those people think I’m handicapped!

It amazed me to realize that this totally sightless woman did not consider blindness a handicap. And she was right. Her handicap was her illness, not her lack of sight. Unless you knew her well, you would not know she was ill. That’s the way she wanted it and that’s the way it was.

When I learned that Missy could not sew, I thought to myself, at last - I have found something I can do and she cannot. I must have said something to her about that because the next time we went to the fabric store she went off on her own and later, with much delight informed me that the sales lady had given her a needle threader and now she wanted to learn to sew! Would I please teach her?

I’m smiling, just at the memory.

One time we were in a public bathroom when the lights went out. The panic was unbelievable. She asked me what happened and I told her.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got this people!” she yelled out, and proceeded to use her cane to help direct her to the light switch. She flipped it on and the sighs of relief were … well, they were funny. She took something potentially scary and made a joke out of it. The women were so grateful and did not hesitate to tell her so.

Missy’s only handicap was that she was riddled with a fatal disease, lymphatic cancer . She was determined to not let it ruin her life. Oh yes, I learned so much from her.

I learned that no matter how bad things seem, if you just look for the good you will find it. I learned that a physical impairment can only beat you down if you allow it.

Inside each one of us is a strength we do not realize until we need it. Even then, when we do not have a positive perspective, we fail to recognize or use our strengths.

My question to you today is, what do you see? How much of it is positive? How much is negative? By changing your perspective, can you improve your life and the life of those around you?

Good thoughts and Big Smiles are sent to each and every one. Have a great and positive day.


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