Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sense - Abilities # 4 - Going Back to Houston

Happy Days to all,

I have heard Dad talk about tunnel vision and night blindness a lot at work. He keeps sharing that he has only 2 degrees of vision remaining.

When he still had about 10 degrees of vision and was still driving, he had an opportunity to purchase his Uncle Walter’s business in Houston. He was excited about the chance to be an entrepreneur and to be president of his own company.

The excitement of this new future in some ways mitigated the concern that he felt about going blind. He knew, deep inside his heart, that he still had plenty to give and having some challenges with vision was just another challenge that he would overcome.

In 1953, Uncle Walter had started his distribution business when he was totally blind from RP at the age of 25. He learned to make mops and brooms at the Lighthouse for the Blind in Houston. This gave him an idea. He felt that he could start his own business selling mops, brooms and maybe some other cleaning products. He did just that, starting in his garage.

Uncle Walter was a real inspiration to Dad. He did not let anything stop him. He would attempt almost anything that a sighted person would do, except driving.

He had five guide dogs during his career, all from The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey. Dad said that he really loved getting to know those dogs, playing with them cautiously - they were all German Shepherds and looked pretty mean.

Moving back to Houston in 1983 was like going home again for Dad. He was still a very capable and able driver of automobiles, but the clock was ticking. "Should" he be driving? That was a totally separate question.

"Those who have driven and had to give it up really understand the grief that is felt when you lose that form of independence." Dad drove as long as he could.

The feeling of driving is one of true freedom. You get to move quickly around town, go shopping when you need something and travel quickly to many places. A lot had started to shift as he lost his sight. It was much tougher to see at night, a sense of real awareness of what was going on around him was being lost.

Gosh, I was feeling so bad for Dad. This was really a defining moment in his life. He was having to deal with shifting from total independence to dependence on others. And it was still 25 years before he would meet me!

Keep chugging along with,

Zane Train!


Anonymous said...


Reading about your Dads peripheral vision got me to doing some limited research on what is "normal". Seems that normal peripheral vision is about 150 degrees for one eye and up to about 180 for two eyes. Perhaps, this gives you some perspective into your Dad's condition. Don't know what it is for a dog though. Well Zane, it looks like for the forseeable future, you have some job security! With the economy the way it is, you may be the last one with a paycheck! But if you ever find your self out of a job, call me, I'm pretty sure I can find something for you to do.

Keep up the good work. We love you so much.

Your puppy raising Dad


Zane Train said...


Yes, it's good to hear from my old Dad in Brea. Yes, Richard has some poor vision. He still steps on my foot every now and then, but I know he loves me. He always says he's sorry. But doesn't love mean you never have to say your sorry?

He's giving me kibble again while we walk to work. I love that reinforcement when I do some godd work. It really builds my confidence.

Dad also told me about Sayer who learned to swim last week. You know me, though, I did not like swimming. I just let Marcel do the work and I would steal from him.

As we walk by a school every morning, I remember that Vicki will be going back to school soon and you too. Enjoy your summer while you can.

Dad said we are going to the Palisades Peach Festival near Grand Junction next week. I prefer cantalupe!

Love to all, Zane

Princess Coral said...

Hey Zane,

Nikki doesn't have RP, but has similar eye conditions! I don't think that she can see me unles I'm directly in front of her!

Since Nikki's eyes never worked right all her life, she hasn't had to go through the fear of losing vision like your Dad. However, in a way, he's lucky because he understands the both worlds.

When someone goes through sight loss, the hardest thing is to give up dirving. I never thought that was possible, but Nikki used to know someone who had a guide dog, and at the same time driving secretly!!!

Becky said...

Zane and Richard;

How nice to find your blog! So happy to hear about your great teamwork. It is amazing, isn't it. This is Cricket posting from Utah with Becky. Happy travels. I know my handler can definitely relate to this post. She gave up driving in '92