Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sense - Abilities - #6 - White Cane is Able

Howdy all y'all doggies,

As I listed to Dad sharing with Mom about going blind, he started to talk about making that BIG move to a white cane.

After he signed a purchase agreement to buy Uncle Walter's business, Keith Distributing, Dad hired two sales people to take over the daily sales calls.

"Anthony, my driver, became my warehouse manager. Now I could stay at the business as president, sell from the inside and manage the operation."

Dad said that this worked well as the years went by and the business doubled its sales volume.

He joined a Houston Rotary Club in 1987. He went to many meetings, struggling with not being able to see in lowly lit rooms and restaurants, often with bright sunlight coming in the windows.

"It was tough," he said, "I ran into people all the time and banged into chairs as I tried to negotiate tables at lunch."

My wife asked me, “Why don’t you consider learning Braille and maybe even using a white cane?”

His first reaction was swift and direct.

“I can still read fine and I don’t need that stinking white cane!”

This is a typical reaction for someone losing their sight. Those who are dealing with vision loss are more worried about what everyone else will think about them rather than the benefit that a white cane might provide.

Dad thought that everyone would wonder, "What's wrong with him?" or "Why does he need that cane?"

Dad’s reaction was based on what he thought every one would think. He was worried about “looking good, and not disabled.”

“Wow,” he said, “the stories we make up!” He knew that no one actually said that, but he had made up a lot of stories about what he thought people were saying and thinking.

This sounds like some of the stories I make up about big dogs when they are barking at me. "They must want to eat me alive!" Silly, huh? But it sure feels real at the time!

Dad said that it’s amazing how many stories we can make up . . . stories that end up controlling our lives and separating us from reality. And for him, not having the independence and freedom he could have had if he were using the white cane and not worrying about what anyone thought.

Finally in 1991, he called the Lighthouse of Houston and made an appointment with an orientation and mobility instructor to learn how to use a white cane.

"Wow, what a change that made in my life!" he exclaimed.

Oh boy, I can't wait to hear what happened next. This is the step just before he got me!

big licks and lots of belly rubs,



Anonymous said...


Having grown up with a mother that was blind, I never really noticed her feeling embarassed or concerned about what other people thought about her vision loss....probably that phase of her life occurred before I realized she was even going blind. You see, her vision loss, like Richards, occurred gradually but was pretty much complete by the time I was about 10. I'm now much older, in fact as old as your Dad, and now I realize that it's not just blind people that are concerned about what other people might think. Same goes for people going bald (they tend to wear hats as often as possible), people who are getting overweight (they wear looser fitting clothing so their "folds" don't show as much), people who are going gray (many dye their hair), people who are hard of hearing (they prefer inconspicuous hearing aids)and so on and so on. I recall when I first had to wear glasses in 7th grade that at first I would only wear them going to/from school and not in class where I really needed them. I was afraid I'd be teased. It's sad your Dad had to experience similar feelings and also had to cope with his vision loss at the same time, but he sure has gotten over any feelings of concern about what people might think. He is now just about the best adjusted guy I've ever met. He's faced his disability head-on and you are a major part of his life how. How confident you both are! How lucky you are too, "good buddy".

Just think, when they find a cure for RP, he won't need you any more and you can come back to live with us in Brea! How 'bout that? I hope the good folks at GDB Inc. explained that techincality to your Dad when he got you last December!

Love, Your puppy raiser Dad,


Zane Train said...


Dad and I think you brought up some great analogies to the fear of going blind, e.g., gray hair (Dad dealt with that at age 30!), hearing loss (Dad's Mom has hearing aids and I bet others don't want to show those sticking out of their ears), wearing glasses(Dad said that he felt self-conscious bout that at age six!)

Dad said that after one year, he has first dibs on me. Ain't no way that I'm screwing up between now and December! You know, I would love to come visit for a couple weeks in the winter when they go on vacation maybe in Mexico or Hawaii! Would you be willing to put me up for a while?

Your Momo was a real pillar of strength which I'm sure set a great example for your family. I've not heard much about your Dad. What was he like?

Love from your buddy, Zane

Princess Coral said...

Hi Zane,

Although Nikki was blind all her life, she hated to use that white cane when she was a teenager because of the same reason. She thought that boys would not look at her with a cane! And she really didn't need it because she was pretty much sheltered at the school for the blind, where she spent from 6-18 years old. But when she went to a legular college with sighted people for the first time, she finally realized that bumping into people and stuff is more uncool than using a white cane.