A DIFFERENT KIND OF VISION

I painted a two story office building that housed a law firm. It was an old Victorian with badly peeling paint which had to be chemically stripped to raw wood before being painted. The job took weeks. When it was complete, the attorney who owned the building appeared with a pair of binoculars which he directed at the eves. He began pointing out small flaws in the finish which were invisible from the ground. He let me use his binoculars.

I hung wallpaper for a blind man; it was a mural which I hung at the end of his dining room. As I finished, the man asked me to describe the scene in the mural. I said, “We are in the shade of an oak tree on a hillside overlooking a small bay. There are a few small fishing boats at anchor in the bay. The sun is low over the ocean in the distance. There are small ripples on the water indicating a gentle breeze.” The man stood with his hands on his hips, head erect and shoulders back. “How beautiful!, ” he said.

I have a niece, Darlene O’Brien, who went blind at 33. She has raised two girls and is a grandmother of two. She works tirelessly to create understanding of disabled people by  traveling around the country and training various government agencies on the talents and qualifications of blind people. Her message is simple: blind people and disabled people in general are no different than the rest of us except for their disability. I would say that blind people are gifted with special “vision.” Darlene is smarter than she is good looking and she is very good looking; a tall attractive red head with a winning personality, she can take command of a room full of people. She remembers peoples’ names and where they are in the room and looks right at them when she speaks, giving the impression she isn’t really blind. She is the personification of respect for others.

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