THOUGHT PROVOKER 23
Guess Who's Coming To Visit?
Last Updated October 27, 2002
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
My new girl friend and I were making a surprise visit to her parents.
“I thought you had just told me they didn't know we were together tonight.” I said.
“Yes, but now, when they called and asked to borrow my old VCR, I said I'd bring it right
over. And since you are here, I’ll have you carry it."
"Thought you told me they needed time to get use to me and my vision?" I answered, trying to get a read on all that she was not saying.
"Well, they were shocked. But like I told them years ago, I'm out on
my own and they can't tell me how to live my life.”
Later, in her parents driveway. “Beep! Beep!” “Oh darn! I’ve got my purse in my lap, I’m trying to twist around to get the VCR in the back… Guess I’m nervous.”
“I think so. Remember, I’m here to carry the heavy stuff, right?” I said, trying not to get nerved up myself.
Using my girlfriend’s key, we walked in. In the living room, the TV was running one of those shopping shows, but no one was there. We looked around both floors. No one was in the house, the yard,
"They couldn't have gone far, their car is in the garage." My girlfriend
said. "Where could they be?”
I didn’t answer right away, I was getting a feeling about this. Near
where I had set the VCR down on the kitchen table, I found a still warm cup
of coffee and could smell a cigarette still burning.
**1. “I think that the girl friend's parents might have been robed or maybe they went for a walk. I would like to hear what others have to say.”
(Woodland Hills, California, USA,
**2. “The first thing I picked up on was that the girl's parents were shocked by learning about the man's vision. Her comment of
: "they can't tell me how to live my life." raises a question in my mind: Is she dating him because of his vision? Are there
some unresolved control issues between she and her parents? My gut feeling is that the girl is using the man's visual impairment
to get back at her parents.
I get the distinct impression that the girl's parents are hiding from the man. The evidence is the car in the garage, the
warm cup of coffee, and the smell of a cigarette still burning. It feels like the parents don't want to meet the man. Most
likely it is because of his vision, or lack thereof. It could very well be that they are afraid to meet him. The reasons
could be and probably are numerous. Some people are afraid of us. After all, we as a group have been portrayed as incompetent,
fragile, and sometimes stupid creatures. I used those words deliberately, because many times our humanness and intelligence
is overlooked. More on that from me another time...
It could also be that the man's vision stirs up emotions in them related to blindness. By avoiding the man they could be
Trying to avoid the emotions.
It could be that maybe the parents are angry at the girl and don't want to deal with her at the moment. Regardless of the
reasons, it definitely feels as if the parents don't want to meet the man.
If I were in his shoes, I would seriously have to re-consider my relationship with this person based on the facts in the
story. My reason is, that while I want to be accepted for who and what I am, I do not want to be used by anyone. I feel
the girl here is using the man because of his vision. That to me, is wrong.”
Norma (Florissant, Missouri, USA)
**3. “This is an interesting one. As a single guy I would wonder how a family would relate to a person who has a disability. In this scene they walk into a house with warm coffee in the cup and a smoke still going. So, it is
clear that there is someone there. The question is where. What makes it more interesting is the fact of an earlier statement of one saying the parents were not sure about the relationship.
So, I would think the visually Impaired person is a bit uncomfortable at this point, not knowing what is in the person's mind at the time, I would say the person has a bunch of mix feelings.
I can say though, in being in that situation, I think I can understand some of the feelings. Like why am I not good enough for this person, you judge
the cover before looking inside of the person, and make a prejudgment with out seeing for yourself just what a blind or visually impaired or any handicap person is or can do. I remember one time in dating how careful the parents were around me, like a, crystal champagne glass, until I broke the
ice with a couple of blind jokes and went into the kitchen after dinner to do the dishes. To which open the door for a lot of questions. Then, watching the ice melt away. Which lead to being treated like another "Normal"
person. As a single guy I've found in the dating world and meeting people.
Instead of getting on the defensive; instead, gradually open the door of communication and you can go far. No, maybe it doesn't work some of the time, but for sure one has nothing to lose if one can show that your handicap doesn't get in your way in doing most things. That, in a relationship it is what the couple make of it. To that if one can show it's not a big deal. That the two jell well together and are really in love.
That, the relationship can work You can show the parents that both persons have talk and work through any problems. That, you have shown the bond is grown and trust for each other is growing. So, if something does come up;
they know you can handle it. After, all the parent has the love for their children either side of the fence and wants nothing but the best for their child no matter what the age is. Therefore, if that comes across this handicap, what ever it may be, can take care of their loved one; or in the
other shoes that the sighted person can deal with. Then, the parents will be at ease. Then, the process of welcoming the person into the family. Screaming, hollering, or handicap rights won't get a person anywhere. No matter how much we may not like it every one prejudges people either from the blind, sighted or other types of handicap. It is all in our nature to
do so. It is up to the person or in this situation to break the ice and begin to melt it. So, that everyone will feel comfortable.”
Gene Stone (Portland, Maine, USA,
FROM ME: “What do you say, do we all ‘prejudge?’ A discussion on the act of ‘prejudging’ might be an interesting exercise; why do we do it, what do we gain, is prejudging bad or good, etc.”
**4. “I do believe this couple are slightly paranoid. possibly the
family stepped out quickly to the store, thinking they would like to
provide the daughter and friend a freshly made cake and ice cream? It is not likely that anyone would invite their daughter over and then just not be home at all. another perspective would be that this possibly uneducated family in regards to disabilities would be hiding in a closet to observe the daughter and her visually impaired boyfriend. so in my opinion, paranoid would be the key word. We as persons who are blind or visually impaired must get on with life and not let ones family totally disrupt a
relationship. Many folks and their families simply need a clear
explanation of what being legally blind and or visually impaired is and how it effects needs. Ie- Where a hot cup of coffee is setting. It will be interesting to see the responses on this one. thanks Robert”
Lee a. stone (Hudson, New York, U.S.A.
**5. “If that doesn't get people angry, what will? Where were they, hiding under the bed?
I'm happy to say that my parents welcomed David with open arms, and even told me he was the first "Man" I had dated. However, he tells me he had some hairy experiences along this line.
How rude. How crude. How immature!”
Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York, USA)
**6. “I, myself, haven't had this exact experience, but my family was rather hesitant about my wanting to marry someone with a vision impairment, especially, my brother. He and John, my husband, still don't see eye to eye...no pun intended.
On my wedding day, my brother had the poor judgement to say "I'm only doing this for you." (He was my usher/photographer. If I hadn't been so nervous, I'd have been deeply hurt. It still bothers me, but my brother was never able to see things the same way I did. He wanted me to be provided for...a nice thought,
grant you, but not at all what I was interested in. My parents wanted me to marry a rich man.
I recall throughout our relationship my mother asking me what would happen if my then fiancée lost his vision. I didn't exactly have an answer prepared so I said
we'd get though such a situation together. She thought I wasn't too "blind" to see where she was going with her queries so she eventually gave up that ghost.
Several times, she tried to scare me with the "how will you two handle kids?” But I was more prepared for this one. John and I spent allot of time talking about these issues and said it wasn't something to worry about at that time. There are parenting help-groups for the blind/vision impaired so we knew there was support out there.
I have read allot of stories about how the sighted and blind relationship has its challenges, but, and this may seem a rosy-eyed perspective, love will guide true
lovers through any obstacle. I think that my relationship with my husband is stronger than ever because we both have a vision impairment. The majority of
stories have been expressions of frustration at how the sighted partner treated the blind partner or how when the sighted person's expectations of the blind partner (through false assumptions) were not met.
It is good for our parents/the parents of our partner to have concerns, but expressing them in an adult manner and not in a whining. child-like manner (as I
dealt with) will cause more problems than is necessary. Sometimes, I feel like my enjoyment of my love for John (while I was at home) was compromised because of my parents'/brother's petty way of handling the situation.”
Shelley Proulx (http://home.att.net/~phichta/home.htm)
**7. “Well, the idea of a family rejecting or avoiding a blind person or family member is not unusual. It happens all the time. I remember vividly an aunt asking my mother (I was five) if she was going to put me in an institution.
I have friends who were rejected by their parents and I know many of my friends had trouble dating because their sighted friends' families tended to avoid them. We need more education. A pressing problem is when families not only reject, but are actively cruel or ashamed of blind and
visually impaired members or friends. "You're nothing but incubator trash!"
and "I should have left you out to die as a baby!" are two phrases that
friends of mine have told me their parents said to them! Horrible. "You
could do better than that!" and " How can you bring such shame on us?" are two things I have heard blind friends say their boy/girlfriends' parents
have said. I know my first boyfriend's parents avoided me. Prejudice still abounds. A friend of mine's parents won't allow her to bring her guide dog because her blindness "already attracts too much attention". Really! Social
climbers annoy me.”
Sylvia Stevens (California, USA)
FROM ME: As the lady stated, ‘education is needed,’ but how when and where and by who?”
**8. “This story provokes frustration or maybe even anger in me! It is clear that the girl's parents either can't or don't want to accept her friends vision problem. It is not clear how bad the vision is but I would judge he is legally blind or completely blind. Either way I would say the parents
are not showing an attitude of respect! To me he is being judged by his
blindness which he can not help; they are unwilling to take the time to
know him and find out just who he is. This makes him a person of less
value, less worth then is desirable for their daughter! If I were in his shoes I would go very slow; such strong feelings coming from her parents will do much to destroy a lasting relationship; either the parents must be willing to get to know him, to let him prove his worth or find valid reasons as why not! They should give him a chance; without this the girl
will always be caught in the middle, between parents and her love one or husband.
Why do I say this? I guess it comes from real life experience!”
Ernie (Walla Walla, Washington, USA)
FROM ME: “…are not showing an attitude of respect…’ Judging his blindness and not him… Count how many times we encounter this opinion and note the different phraseology in which we will find it.”
**9. “My first feeling was shock. The next feeling that came to surface was that of anger. I feel that I have adjusted to blindness and to me it is just one little part of me. Some people it is all they think about when they are
around. I have some friends are sighted and they are always making blind jokes and everything is centered around my blindness. I have talked to them about this. I explained that I am Greg, another person with interest and problems just like everyone else. I just happened to be blind. Some
people can not get past this issue and at times it is very frustrating.”
Greg Mason (Sacramento, California, USA)
FROM ME: “Fixating on an out standing characteristic like hair color, size, disability, etc. What is this a function of?”
**10. “It isn't surprising that the girlfriend's parents are uneasy about a blind boyfriend for their daughter. After all, the girlfriend is so uneasy about the situation herself, that she didn't even tell her parents that she was still seeing this blind man. If she thinks it's okay to date and
possibly become serious about a blind man, she has not done anything to
convey the equality of her boyfriend to her parents. She has done no
education and was ashamed of taking him to meet them. So, why wouldn't
they go off to another part of the house to decide how to react to this
blind person; someone who they've had no experience with and a person who they feel uncomfortable about meeting. If more positive information had been given to them from the beginning of the girlfriend's relationship with this blind man, her parents wouldn't have been as surprised and taken off guard when they just showed up.”
Cynthia Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania, USA,
**11. “1 Well you could look at this like the game of clue and look for any clues. Nut we already know is that the couple is at her moms home and no one is home to their knowledge so we have one thing to go on and that is a warm cup of coffee and the smell of a cigarette so we know that they
are not far away or have been gone to long. So to look at it from a
different stand point first we have to look at what has been told and we know that the girl friend is living alone with her boyfriend which is visual impaired and her parents do not know but that is not the point. We
know that they are where they belong but the parents are not and that is the point.
So we have to look for a clue and we have 2 and they are a warm cup of
coffee and the smell of cigarettes to base this on.
If it were me I would start looking from top to bottom and smell for
cigarette smells in other parts of the house and check each room out to
make sure before doing anything wrong. Like they could be in the attic or a closet playing a joke on them. There are many
possibilities that we can jump to and many that could be wrong.
I think that we have to go a little further to find more and to know
what is going on.”
Willie Burton (Arkansas USA)
**12. “This is kind of a creepy story in a way. I mean, to just walk into some one's house and then to find them gone? What a mystery! I think the parents of this person may have been just a little paranoid, so to speak, about having their child be involved in a relationship with some one with a
visual impairment. I think this even happens with just good friendships, sometimes. People just aren't always comfortable around blind people.
For me, personally, I often wonder if I'm just too sensitive when it comes to this issue. I say this because there's another student at my high school who's also totally blind. She, unlike me, though, has some rather weird body habits that she chooses to do. Well,I often wonder if some people don’t see her, and think I do the same things, or say some of the comments she says.
Man, this could be longer, but I won't keep any one reading anymore. Sorry.”
Stacy (Wisconsin, USA.)
**13. “I think this is a very good thought provoker! It sounds to me, on first reading it, that her parents suddenly vanished from the house to secretly observe how the blind man was going to handle the situation. Either that,
or upon seeing the happy couple immerging from the car, her parents just didn't want to physically be near the young man for fear of catching his "blindness disease"! Quote unquote!”
Reeva Parry (Hillsboro, Illinois, USA,
**14. “Well, it sounds like Mom and Dad got cold feet about meeting the blind guy!
That's the worst case scenario! If you look on the bright side, something might have come up where they had to leave in a hurry. I'd probably give them the benefit of the doubt that time, but if something like that happened a second time, I'd have to ask serious questions about the long term
Brian Zolo (Gahanna, Ohio, USA,
**15. “It's sad that in this day and age people still treat blindness as a plague or a curse. My father has glaucoma and was informed
he won't be able to drive much longer. His response.....it's because he had an alcohol problem and smoked when he was younger.
As smart as I thought my father was, this reaction blew me away. Having two sons who died of muscular dystrophy wasn't a punishment,
but losing his vision is. How bazaar!”
Elizabeth Eagan (AERnet)
FROM ME: “Here is a case where the blind guy is needing adjustment counseling. Including meeting well adjusted blind folks.”
**16. “Sounds like the girlfriend's parents are rather nasty and
close-minded. I wrote a short story similar to this for the NFB
magazine called "Preconceived Notions'. In my story a young woman is
trying to convince her mother that her new boyfriend, who's blind, is
a-okay. The mother's against the whole deal, but she agrees to have the
boy over for dinner, and both parents hang around, not take off quickly
when they see him coming up the front walk. My story also had a happy
ending. The parents are convinced - though the mother grudgingly that the blind boy is a great guy.
When I started dating my husband ten years ago his father said to his
son that I had three strikes against me, one of which was that I'm
handicapped. You can imagine how freaked out I was and afraid to come
face to face with his dad. But I had to of course and with time and
getting to know each other his dad came to love me like a daughter.”
Patricia Hubschman (Levittown, New York, USA)
FROM ME: “We see that the father did get to know her and learn to love her like a daughter. ‘Over time,’ she says; how do we manipulate that element of time>?”
**17. “I have never had this experience before, as with my first husband, I wasn't considered "blind." I could see 20/70, 20/80. Mom in law just didn't like me because I wasn't good enough for her son, and then when we divorced, she still didn't believe the horrors he put me through.
With my second husband, he is physically disabled, so when we met, we
dismissed all disabilities and went from there. His Mom readily accepted me, and up until we separated, loved me. She knew I was taking care of her son, and he needed it, as he had some serious problems that took a few days in the pokey to get his straightened out.
I have also dated blind guys but have never had the privilege of "meeting the family." That's one of those things you reserve for a few months into the relationship, and we never made it that far, before we broke up.
However, as my divorce will be final very soon, someone who is sighted
has expressed interest in me. However due to our beliefs, we cannot date until I am divorced.
Now he works for my friend who is totally blind, so he doesn't have an
issue with it. Matter of fact, he learns something new everyday from
either one of us. He asks me more questions than he does our boss though, because he feels it's not nice to question the boss, and our boss is set in his ways. I have even learned things from the boss myself about independence.
So I wonder how his family will treat me when I get to meet them. His
friends all treat me like a "person," after we get over the Q&A time. I
don't mind those at all, because they just want to know about me, and
blindness is a part of me.
My own family is the worst. They don't consider me "blind," and think I'm faking it. Why would anyone in their right mind want to do something like that. Hey, I don't like having Sticklers Syndrome (the cause of my blindness) ya know. That's only my Moms side of the family, my father’s side would do a "reverse" and give my boyfriend all sorts of accolades
for "taking care of me." Like he's already got an ego...lol.
So I'll let you know when I get to meet the family, and how they deal
Reenah Blackwell (Dayton, Ohio, USA)
**18. “I never had anything like that happen to me but I remember when my mom started dating. She'd bring a gentleman friend of to the house or have them come to get her and that was when they got to meet the blind child, I was a kind of rebellious angry and argumentative sort then and I had in mind just exactly what kind of man Mom should be involved with and so these guys not only having to deal with my being blind but my intolerance of stupid attitudes toward the blind and over all bad mood but also a third degree.”
SueEllen Mello (Blind-x)
**19. “I just read this and had to read it a second time, for it to really hit me. (Not having the coffee earlier this morning can do that to you.) but, I can say, I've never really had that particular thing happen but I know I would be rather uncomfortable with it initially. I would hope that either they would finally get used to the fact and not treat it as something akin to the plague, but that might not happen. I would seriously consider getting them together for a visit, a meeting, or whatever, not just to talk to them about their uncomfortable feelings about being around me, but I would definitely have to show them that I was just as capable as the next person at doing things, taking care of their daughter or whatever.
(It's one of those pride things, you feel some bad vibes concerning you and your person, you want to prove to the family members, or other person, that those uncomfortable feelings are unnecessary.)
It's really hard in short, to say how I would handle it because I've never really had to deal with that, but those are some of my thoughts. Who knows, I might end up sending some other thoughts on that today before I leave, but that is rather interesting. Thanks.”
Timothy Emmons (Adaptive Technologies consultant for the University of
Alabama in Huntsville,
M Louis Salmon Library Huntsville Alabama, 35899
FROM ME: “Here we have a guy with a plan. Not just moaning about the treatment. Action is good, right?!”
**20. “I have a problem with the start of your story. Why does her parents have to have time to adjust to you not having vision. It isn't like they are taking you to raise or something.
I can understand the girl having parents that have to approve of
everything. When you start getting "the lectures" you have to learn how to say "yeah ok". When I say that my parents just sigh and shut up. Of course I had to prove to them I wasn't sitting up all night doing drugs while I was cleaning my guns.”
Sandie McKinney (NFB-talk, USA)
FROM ME: “About time we do give some credit to parents and their dreams, wishes, desire to do the best for their child. But, again, where does this meet that imaginary fine-line of going too far?”
**21. “Fortunately, I have not been in that particular situation since both my wife and I are blind. However, in some respects, perhaps all blind people (or if you prefer, visually impaired persons), have experienced similar circumstances. For example, too often when I'm accompanied by a sighted person, the sighted person is addressed with remarks which clearly should be addressed to me. One instance: "What's wrong with his eyes?" At one time,
I was more tolerant of the ignorance shown by some individuals; now I'm
definitely not as tolerant. I have been known to tell persons who act as though I'm not present or as if I could not hear, or as if I was mentally incompetent: "My mind is quite normal, and my hearing is near perfect. So please, if you need to know something concerning me, you need to ask me." I can imagine that if I had been in a relationship with someone sighted, I would no doubt insist that my partner fully accept me as a complete equal.
I do not feel that a relationship between myself and another could endure if they were ashamed of me around their peers, be the peers or family or other. I wonder if the girlfriend deliberately blew the horn to warn the family of their arrival? I'll probably have something further to say on the matter later.”
Jesse Johnson (NFB-talk, USA)
**22. “I wasn't going to answer this one, but I decided to go for it.
I recently dated a sighted guy. Boy, that was interesting--he swept me off my feet, and I looked at him through the largest pair of rose colored glasses known to man. (we broke up in January, my choice!). Anyway, I always felt like his family didn't like me. I don't know if it was my blindness, but I got the feeling that it was. He was nice, until we broke up, and I hope that he is happy dating someone else. I don't know why some people react to us, as blind people, in the way that they do, but they do. I know that every mother would like to see her child marry the
"perfect" mate. I would imagine that no mother--unless the mother of a
blind child--would think, "I want little (insert name) to grow up and marry a blind person." I'm not saying that this doesn't happen--I think it would personally be cool, because then, Mr. Right could just come on and ask me.
However, I feel that if two people truly love each other, and are right for each other, then it is possible for them to overcome the differences. I know that this takes time.
Let's face it, though, regardless of blindness, the first few times you're around the family of the person you're dating, it's awkward and strange.”
Sarah Lanier (USA)
**23. “My experience has been that when blind people marry sighted persons they far to often are marrying transportation and or someone who can describe things to them. I have also observed that many of the sighted people who are married to blind persons are intellectually behind their mates. I
have also noticed that many blind persons allow themselves to give up much or all of their hard fought for independence. Those choices do not appeal to me, though I realize that there are many exceptions, I believe that a strong and lasting bond between to people is developed by having as much
in common as possible.
Obviously, however, it is best to take each person on an individual basis.”
Samford Guelzow (NFB-talk)
FROM ME: “As to the characteristics of sighted mates that most blind persons mary… Anyone else out there have some generalizations they would like to share?”
**24. “Wow, I didn't relate to the first part of the Thought
Provoker, because (a) I don't do well with mysteries,
and (b) I can't imagine being shocked at a child's
falling in love with a person who is blind, or deaf,
or anything else that might qualify as "imperfect"
except an abuser. Having a daughter who experienced
abuse, I think abusers shouldn't be allowed to
breathe our air.
But as to the second part of that question: what
happens in a family when both partners start out
sighted? Well we did. Bob only wore glasses for
nearsightedness at first, and his acuity was
excellent with glasses. In 1967 I took a psychology
course in college, which described how rods and cones
adjusted for night vision and flyers who had
difficulty adjusting at night sometimes. About 1971
I saw a public service announcement describing RP. I
filed both items in that attic I call my brain.
About a year after I saw a PBS program about visual
aids, where RP and night blindness were shown and
described, among other things. Again, I filed it
away and thought nothing about it.
It wasn't until one night in 1974, when Bob pulled
forward out of a parking space at a well lit
supermarket and drove right into a humongous
convertible standing in front of him, that I became
alarmed - because he didn't see it. But I ignored
the little thought that tickled just below the
surface of my consciousness and put it down to his
having one too many, which he often did at that time.
Visits to the ophthalmologist were fruitless, but
there were no further incidents until late 1977, when
we'd been living in Florida about 1&1/2 years. He
mentioned he'd begun experiencing visual difficulty
adjusting when coming inside from outdoors. When he
said that, the red light went off over my head and
the filing cabinet disgorged its contents. I
realized it was RP and said so. Soon afterward we
saw an optometrist, who diagnosed it, and my first
reaction, oddly enough, was one of relief. At least
there was a name to put to these visual peculiarities.
When the doctor said eventual possible blindness, I
figured "well, we'll manage." And we have. My
family's first and last concern was to show sympathy
and caring without slobbering pity all over. Of
course they failed miserably, but they did so out of
love, and that love continues to this day. Bob's
family's reaction was more like "Oh gee, bummer," and
I'm sure they didn't really feel "better you than
me," but I always had the uncomfortably creepy
feeling they did.
Bob is still the man I fell in love with and married
some nearly 30 years ago. We've had some good times,
some tough times, some great times. The only
difference now is - he don't see so good. But we've
managed just fine.
If I had a choice, we'd be the picture of good health
in middle age, but we're not. We'd both be sighted,
but Bob's not. Our children would be strong,
intelligent, and loving, but right now they're not.
We'd be retiring now on our lottery winnings, but
we're not. A cure would be found for RP and MD, but
it's not. So the way I see it is: we have a lot of
good stuff to look forward to seeing happen in our
I hope that interminable narrative answers the
Carolyn (Gold Clearwater, Forida, USA,
**25. “Since the parents in this story were evidently not open to meet the
blind guy, they probably never will except him for who he is anyway.
Let me tell you my experience so you know where I am coming from. But I hope
they just ran next door to borrow a cup of sugar for some special dessert
they were making to welcome him.
I at first was not going to answer this because it hit too close to home and it evoked a lot of old feelings I wanted to forget.
When Pat and I met 28 years ago, we were both sighted. My parents liked him fine. We visited and enjoyed each others company. Then we found out that he was going blind with RP. They changed immediately. They did not want me to bring him to visit them. I could come and bring our children, but Pat was not welcome. I couldn't understand this. It hurt me deeply.
Then we found out one by one our kids were also diagnosed with RP. Then my parents hated Pat. They would not come to our home and did not want to really even see me anymore. My mother told me that the reason that my kids were all going blind was due to some "sin" that Pat or I or both of us had done. They pretty much had little to do with us for the rest of their
lives. It was a deep searing pain for years. I do not know what we could have done to change things, their hatred and stupidity was one that could not be understood. You can not change someone else’s' attitude or
Intelligence level. They will have to do that if they want to. It is sad that they missed out on knowing a truly marvelous person and they also did not know their grandchildren. Our four kids and my sisters' three were
their only grandkids, but they chose not to get to know ours. I hate generalities please do not have a thought provoker on them. I become very angry over them. When people say that there is some thing missing in someone’s personality so they marry a blind person, or that a blind person marries someone to have transportation etc. it is an insult to people. It takes away our individuality and makes us a victim of some
missing brain wave. We are humans, not animals. We have thinking processes. Some just chose not to use them.”
Rory Conrad (Dunlop, Iowa, USA)
FROM ME: “The next Provoker will cover genetics and blindness, another very sensitive issue.”
**26. “I did not get the impression that the girlfriend had a problem with her
Visually impaired boyfriend. The parents obviously do, however. Although this is terrible, I believe that if I were in this situation, I would
Probably just blow it off. After all, we should not worry too much about what others think; it is what we think of ourselves that counts.
I would like to respond to those who said that the relationship might be doomed because of the parents' attitude. I believe that it is possible for the girlfriend to feel completely different about her boyfriend's visual impairment than her parents. Perhaps she is a progressive, forward-thinking person. There is no reason to judge her harshly just because she's a bit nervous. When I met my wife's parents for the first time, she was very
nervous about it. At the time, I was legally blind, but my vision wasn't even bad enough at the time for anyone to notice. My wife was just
concerned because we come from very different backgrounds.
Lastly, let me say that running away from meeting someone is pretty foolish. If their daughter is really serious about this guy, they can't just avoid him forever. One day, they will just have to deal with his visual
impairment. If they don't, it's their problem, and probably their loss. If the relationship grows serious, it might even mean that the daughter
chooses him over her parents. If so, it is a shame for the parents,
because they will miss out on many wonderful things in their daughter's
David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
**27. “DAYSHIVOE! I had a very similar experience. Back in my college day’s I dated around and there was this one girl I met who I hit it off with. After we went out a few times and she told me her parents had put their foot down and told her she’d better not get serious about a blind man. She thought to “break the ice” we should go visit them. Wel we did. First, let me tell you she had just come from home where she lived with her parents. She knew they were not going anywhere that afternoon. We drove over, parked in the driveway, the family dog barked. We went into the house and found it empty. All the door and windows were open, because it was summer and not too hot. We looked around, called around and couldn’t find anyone. My girl friend kidded me that they must have seen us coming and were hiding. I kidded her back, saying it was aliens.
Later, a couple of days, she told me she was right. She also told me her father really got mad and threatened her and said she’d lose any college support from them if she kept dating me. So she apologized and cut it off. It was sad to see how she took it. I didn’t know what to do about it to help her. It hurt me too, but it wasn’t the first time I had been treated bad because I was different. But it wasn’t the only bad treatment that I got after going blind, so I shrugged it off. But yes, it sill bothers me. But it is history. I just hope that all this ignorance about blindness and disability and differences between people will be history some day. It would be a better world.
After writing this, I want to think of what we can do so all this ignorance about blindness and disability and differences in people can be history. Showing others we can be normal I think is one of the best. That means not being a baby about being treated bad, but also not laying down and taking it either. Joining a group of others like you who are actively promoting awareness and educating others can be one of the best ways, many voices can be heard much further then just one. What else we can do I do not know. Work and time and doing it again and again is important.
But like I also said, or wanted to say, we the blind must be a good example. This also means that parents and teachers of the blind must be very clear in their minds about how normal the blind person can be. So we must make sure we adult blind people help them to see the light.”
**28. “I just could not resist responding to this one. As a mother, I do have very high standards regarding who my children will marry one day, and I admit that I try to instill these values in my children even now as they are growing up.
I believe it is my responsibility to do this as a loving parent! I
unashamedly desire the very best for my children. However...My "standards” for my children do NOT include anything to do with race, height, hair color, vision, or any thing of that sort and frankly I am a bit horrified at the thought! This family seems to have several issues that need sorting out, and if I were the guy in the story, I would have to think twice about becoming
involved in it. Yes, I guess I want a more "perfect world" where people are judged on the basis of their character. I do realize we have not arrived at that place yet, and from the sounds of the responses to this story, many of you have experienced that kind of small minded prejudice first hand. I admire your dignity and strength in dealing with it, and my prayer for this nation and world is that we move beyond our "comfort zones" and into a level
of open-mindedness, where the truly important issues can be addressed and we can all appreciate the value of other individuals.”
Marvelyne Adams (Central Florida, USA
again you have presented a challenge which is good, however lets help
educate some of the readers.
First of all there is a need to educate ourselves and get up of a pity
thinking. Folks, we as persons who are" visually challenged", legally
blind or just plain blind have to realize that blindness itself is
something which can be dealt with. You know everyday that your sight is not
there. Many folks have disabilities which change from day to day such as ms or md. A diabetic who’s medication is out of control or a transplant
patient who wonders if his/her family will leave them in an institution such as a rehab hospital mentally deals with continuous stress in different ways. We who are blind should be able to relate to a spouse or friend and family member just how we do or do not see. Explain if needed for
instance, that the hot coffee could be placed at twelve o'clock. Harmful
statements such as" don't you know that I cannot see ", or " You just don't
understand", can cause more damage or hurt than good. In this case that is
stated above, perhaps if the young lady had not just decided to bring this
man in as blind but as a young man period, things may have been different.
after arriving at her family home , her legally blind friend could have
been introduced as a man and that is it. We do not know in this story if she
may have had previous problems at home and mom and dad wondered who she was
bringing home for a visit. I would like to continuously add without humor in
our daily lives things can be a real bummer. You as individuals can choose
to be sad or choose with others to be a little happier. I have friends who
are rich and poor in a dollar sense who are , by their own choosing living
what would appear happy lives. I believe also as a great presenter,"
Loretta LaRoche" who made a tape and television program called" the Joy of
Stress" says it best. " Get a life". as we approach the year 2000 in this
house, I am thankfull for what I have. three kids who are doing okay. A
Wife who is a workaholic and a Dog guide who is healthy. Look around your
house, your family and neighborhood and see how others deal with a
disability. If it is a negative attitude such as " poor me" than avoid that
connection. People with and without disabilities date, have friends and even sometimes marry. all for the right reasons I would hope I do enjoy this format Robert and do wish for all a fantastic happy, safe, healthy and Happy New Year. Lets all start 2000 off with a laugh a friendly smile and perhaps
even a handshake or hug. Take one day at a time and by golly you just might make another person happy in the process. again Robert, I wish to thank you
for this format. May you and your family have a great Holiday and smile as
the New Year rolls in.
From Ockham and I, "Happy Trails to you until we meet again."
Lee A. Stone (Hudson, New York, U.S.A.
**30. “I'm a first time participant in the Provoker, and it certainly is interesting. While I agree with many points made in the responses, I think most people are reading way too much into the story. I'm generally a positive person, and as I concluded my reading of the story my thoughts ran along the line of - Well, perhaps the parents are up in the attic looking at old photographs, or in the bedroom for a quickie, or perhaps a neighbor needed help with something, or any of a number of alternate scenarios.
Remember, the daughter didn't announce the arrival of the blind boyfriend, and it is perfectly normal for parents to be living their lives while waiting for their daughter to bring over the VCR. Hell, they could have been taken hostage by aliens for that matter, they most probably weren't hiding from the man's blindness. Then, after I read through the first wave of
responses and I see how some folks thought the parents may be hiding in the closets or spying on the young couple. So let's suppose this is the case. My reaction? Their idiots. What kind of people would sit in a closet or spy or run away from their daughters boyfriend, no matter what he was like? No one that I would want to associate with. I'd assume they were a little too wacky and I'd get the hell out of there pronto. Then, based on how their daughter responded would determine the future of the relationship. But I'd want
nothing to do with those people. Now, does this mean that all people with misconceptions about blindness are imbeciles? We better hope not, because that is about 99 percent of sighted individuals. To the sighted people that suffer from misconceptions, not
mental disease, there is only one effective way to bring them around. And that is to be competent and independent in all that you do and show by
example. The reason for the anxieties and misconceptions about blindness come from FEAR of becoming blind. Surveys show it is the second most feared thing on earth for humans, coming in only behind death (cancer and heart attacks to be exact). So sighted people are afraid, terrified actually, of becoming blind. And to compound this, they don't know any blind people, or worse, know those types of blind people that none of us are proud of. So they must be shown by example of how complete and happy the life of a blind person can be. And with any luck, they will tell all their friends.”
Chris Kuell (Danbury, Connecticut, USA)
FROM ME: “To quote this gentleman- ‘…nd that is to be competent and independent in all that you do and show by example…’ This guy and several others in this Provoker, as well as in all others found upon my website suggest this approach; that we must be, that we must show and they will know. What do you all say on this specific notion for changing what it means to be blind?”
**31. “Hi all, well, on the subject of educating people, I often enjoy it when people ask questions of me, that is if they're appropriate. But, on the other hand, I hate it too when if I'm with a sighted person another person wil come up, but usually address the sighted person instead of me. In fact, that happened in band once, and I just simply expressed to my band director that was one of my biggest pet peeve, and he hasn't done it sense. He
apologized numerous times, but oh well, He knows, and it won't happen
Stacy (Wisconsin, USA.
*832. “I have been happily married to my wife for nearly 25 years now and though at times the vision differance has caused rough
times they can mostly be traced to one of us being overly tired or stressed and upon reflection have been learning experiences
for both of us and our teenagers.
ramona Walhof's story about a blind mother fighting to keep her children from corruption (available in one of the Kernel books)
is still on target and should be a must read as you develop your and your mate's attitudes to blindness.
truly the biggest problem is the influence of society's attitudes on us and our children as they progress through the school
And yes, it feels right and always will.
BRETT K WINCHESTER P (M KD7JN READING SERVICES
IDAHO COMMISION f/t BLIND & VISUALLY IMPAIRED ICBVI
BOISE IDAHO voice 208-334-3220 fax 208-334-2963
**34. “My first reaction was "this is fake.....unrealistic! after further self
examination and reading the first update, i do realize that its not "fake” this could be real. luckily, i myself, have never experienced this sort of rejection. I think this is fortunate, but it has made me a bit naive as to the perceptions of blind persons.
I think it should be the responsibility of the woman (in this particular
situation) to warn the parents of the situation. she should educate a bit, pave the way so to speak. if she is comfortable with the relationship, and is interested in the man for his qualities, then she should be able to
handle her parents. I feel she should have been a bit more assertive with them. she should have told them, "I am coming with my friend. he is
visually impaired. if you have a problem with that, please keep it to
yourself! you may ask appropriate questions, but please be polite." or
something like that. I’d be a bit wary of a relationship with someone who most likely hasn't”
Upon reading my answer, I realize I didn't finish my thought before sending out. What happened was I received a phone call during the typing of my response. I tried to finish up and send so I could shut off the computer. I can't remember exactly what I was going to say except that the
Woman seems to have not severed ties with her parents, and she appears to let them influence her. So, as others have mentioned in the first update, I would be cautious of getting involved in a relationship like this one.
My husband is sighted, and I am so fortunate concerning his parents and
our relationship. I don't know what he told them before we visited his
parents for the first time, but they were perfect hosts. treated me
wonderfully. I was very nervous, and worried about how they would feel, but it has been a wonderful relationship for 20 years. I imagine I am in a minority with this kind of experience. they never blink, ask questions, or hesitate! they treat me so totally equal, its great! They have never interfered in the raising of the children, or in what we choose to do.
I do not think I’d have patience with people that treated me "differently"
Merrilee hill-Kennedy (USA)
**35. “The potential for family problems, interventions and the like, in any type of “mixed marriage” is a real one. Before running across this website and looking into what was being discussed, I hadn’t thought of the marriage between a sighted person and a blind person or of with any disabled person as falling to the classification of “mixed marriages.” There has been extensive research into this area. I would suggest all in this forum to seek out those studies, books and compare the findings and recommendations. Look into the sections covering family involvement. Interesting.”
Charles Q. (New Jersey, USA)
FROM ME: “Mixed marriages? What do the rest of you say? Do any of you know of studies made on marriages between the able bodied and the disable?”
*836. “You can add this to another response of mine to this provoker. How did the parents of the girl know he was blind? I want to know other feelings about it. Thanks.”
Jared Rimer (Woodland Hills, California
**37. “It is obvious that her parents don't want to meet the man. I don't think that the girl is trying to get back at her parents for anything. She has simply found someone that she clicks with regardless of his vision loss. Her parents are being extremely rude in trying to make it look like they aren’t home.”
Chris Stewart (Owensboro, Kentucky, USA,
**38. “I have waited a long time to answer your post because I'm not sure if you are serious or not. Your question about what happens when a couple starts with both people sighted puzzles me. If you aren't just joking, let me tell you that all couples should start with mutual respect, consideration and understanding. No matter whether there is any kind of disability
or not. All people should treat each other like they would like to be
treated. Relationships should all be based on the premise that both
people are equals. No two people are the same, but they should both
be equal in the eyes of each other. There can not be a healthy
relationship, if one has a superior attitude over the other.
If you aren't just joking about that story, then you should run not walk in any direction that takes you away from that girl and her peculiar family. What happened to you is unerringly insensitive and cruel. If you are not afforded respect in any relationship it will be destructive to you. How can you maintain your self-respect and self-esteem, if
you are treated with no respect?
If you were just kidding, then the laugh is on me. If you were not,
please take immediate action to protect yourself from such
Billie (USA, firstname.lastname@example.org)
**39. “Many years ago while being just out of Graduate School I had a
relationship where the young ladies parents refused to even meet me and we were not yet engaged. It reached the point where I was given the ultimatum to either support her or leave. My feeling whether
marriage worked or I would be given none of the credit and all of the
blame. Fortunately I ended that helationship and now have a beautiful
wife, two beautiful daughters, three beautiful grandchildren and a fine
son-in-law. I al the opportunity to hell other people through the NFB and as a Medical Social Worker in a large hospital.”
David Stayer (2704 Beach Drive
Merrick, New York 11566-4507
USA, phone 516-868-8718
**40. “I had made up my mind, while in college living with a number of blind roommates, that when I married I would NOT marry a blind person, as
there are some solely visual experiences I found I could not share with
my blind friends. Then I met Tony, and that decision went right out
the window. For one thing, Tony had had 20/20 vision until he had his
accident at age 19. He had an appreciation for rainbows and sunsets
and all, and had seen things like the Northern Lights and glass-calm
seas that I had never experienced. So if I stopped in awe at the
Beauty of a bolt of lightning in the distance, Tony understood, even as
he coaxed me under cover!
My step-dad never said anything one way or another about our
relationship, and my mother seemed to think that it was inevitable that
we would marry once she knew we were spending time together. But my
grandmother was very verbal in her disapproval--she told Mom that she
was to forbid the marriage, and that her grandchild should never
consider a marriage with a blind man. Mom just ignored her, and Tony
and I both wondered how Grandmother would react when she saw he had a
beard! When she finally met Tony, however, she kept her mouth shut and
treated him with a decent level of respect. As for my stepdad's
mother, she acted like the most ridiculous of all hillbilly
stereotypes, speaking to him only three times all evening and then
referring to him as "Mister" each time. My stepdad treated Tony with
Respect, but didn't exactly welcome him with open arms; my sister and
older brother seemed perfectly accepting of the situation.
I have never seen the non-acceptance of a blind friend or fiancée
Expressed as graphically as displayed in the thought-provoker. I know
many of my blind friends have been through varying degrees of rejection
by families of friends and lovers; but in those cases where the
rejection has been extreme there has always been distinct evidence that
the families that rejected them the worst would never have accepted
anyone not fitting the image of the "perfect spouse" or friend for
their dear little girl or beloved son.”
Bonnie L. Sherrell (Teacher at Large, Port Townsend, Washington, USA)
**41. “After reading this story carefully, I have come to the conclusion that the narrator might possibly be a woman. So, what if the parents are shocked, not only by the fact that their daughter is in a relationship with a visually impaired person, but also by the revelation that the relationship is a homosexual one.”
Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, USA
FROM ME: “Possible… note, to provoke the maximum thought, I leave as much open for inturpitation as I can. And, ‘Yep,’ differences, no matter what their nature can be difficult for others to accept. Again, what we need to find is how to work with that, right?”
**42. “I would want to know more about the parents before I laid any blame on them. No question that they may have concerns about the situation, but we also can be hypersensitive to things that may have nothing to do with our situation or everything to do with it. For example, my husband notes that people stare at us when we are out. They are also in the main, very helpful, holding doors, etc.. They have to look to assess how to deal with the situation and perhaps how to help. While it can be tiresome at times, we need to take charge and be the educators of others. I do not always know what to do when I meet up with people with other handicapping conditions. I even have blind friends where I have probably said the wrong thing or not known what their particular needs are.”
Cathy Alfieri (Pittsford, New York, USA)
**43. “I think that maybe the girlfriend might have lied to him and told them to be silent when he came in as a test to see if he could tell if they were there or not. Or, she could just have wanted them to see that he could do things that any sighted person could do like carrying that TV. Another
thing I think is that if any of the above things were true, that she wasn't a very good sport about it. I would never test anyone like that. Whether or not he felt ok about it or not does not mean that it is ok to trick blind people. I hope that none of it was true, nor do I wish anything bad on her parents. If they were robbed, that’s bad. But if someone was playing a game on the poor blind person, then they need to take a look in the mirror, along with his girlfriend, and see who has a disability.”
Anita Ogletree (Birmingham, Alabama, USA)
**44. FROM ME: “I altered this response by changing the reference to specific consumer groups and made it read more general substituted a single word/acronym and). I never want this forum to get down on any group or individual. Yet, I feel it is important to give voice to personal experiences, suggestions, trends in philosophy, streams of thought, etc.”
“In listening to the input from this dating situation. I couldn't believe what I was hearing below:
Your Story of the couple, Robert.
First off I know several couples who are married and it is a "Normal" versus handicap - blind or otherwise.
For give me LBrother Lee with out asking. My brother is married to a great lady Bettie. They have been married 25 years. They have raised three children and both are working. Neither Debbie or Lee use each other in the suggestion that is being made. Nor, is my brother stupid in getting married or using to get transportation. These X and Other organizations really bug the hell out of me in making these slanderous remarks.
As noted in my first input and your input "Prejudging" this is clearly being done by the members of this Organization with closed eyes.
As a single dating person, I Gene Stone, stand up for myself, love myself and proud to be blind and have "NO" problem with dating in the area of being excepted for who I am. I and plenty of people that I know who are blind, MS and visually Impaired do not use, demand or set up to use a sighted person in this persons suggestion. If one loves oneself, excepts his/her handicap for what ever it may be, has compassion and care in the heart; then he/she wouldn't be talking about the items the way they were in this last input. I can't believe that you X and the other organization that stand for the same thing cry being judged or being prejudge. then, turn around and judge a person yourself. There is many different types of prejudging from
Blind/any type of handicap/white/black/gay/married/single/big/tall/glasses/short/ you get the idea. My wish is that you and others would stop prejudging everyone and instead love yourself, except your handicap what ever it may be, show compassion, love for your friend and neighbor, walk by someone and say hello or
Good morning or good afternoon. Instead of crying poor me. In the year 2000 it is time we as a community come together and "not apart" work with not against support instead of bitch bring forth a community of love, compassion and strength and "We all will go far"
I'm sorry if this is blunt but this offended me and a couple of other
friends on this forum."
Gene Stone (Portland, Maine, USA,
FROM ME: “Gene is referring to response 23. It was just one individual’s thought put out on a listserv in response to my Provoker. This individual did receive many countering messages by others on that same listserv. I didn’t include them in this forum because they included so much more in their messages that they became too involved with other matters to have made sense here. I apologize if this is confusing or in any other way seen as unfair to others.
Note how many responses we get across all Provokers calling for unity within the blind community. This will be the theme for a future THOUGHT PROVOKER.”
**45. “Well we have to write in again. Though I had always had bad eyesight, my contacts gave me good vision to do anything I wanted to do. I knew my eyes were what you might call "fragile" but I never thought I would ever go
blind. This I heard for the first time when my first wife gave this as one of her flimsy excuses when she filed for divorce. I had never thought this and rushed to my doctor's office where I learned the truth. Still I had time to get a college education and work quite a few years longer; plus I was given a wonderful wife who loves me and who has stood by me these 29 years! My in-laws have always treated me as one of their sons. In fact just days before my wife's mother died she reminded my wife that she, my mother-in-law, had been the one to find me first! She and I had a close relationship long before I married her daughter.
On another line my wife does not feel that when a sighted person marries a blind person that the sighted person is intellectually behind his or her blind mate. At least in our case: we both have some college, I a degree and though she has no degree it is not from lack of intelligence. I know, though, there could be exceptions. I do know my going blind has not
altered in any way our relationship. Nor would I marry just for
transportation or support.
Back to my first statement: My first wife's parents never did fully accept me, for whatever reason. I was definitely below them and was not worthy of their daughter.
As for family or friends accepting my blindness, their most common
statement when this subject comes up is, "I forget you are blind!" I have always had great support from my family, and close friends; I guess I am most fortunate!”
Ernie Jones (Wala Wala, Washington, USA)
**46. “I find it interesting that so many responses indict a negative feeling on the part of the parents rather than concern. I also found it quite disturbing that there were so many responses that made the assumption that the parents and/or the girlfriend were negative towards blindness. My very first thought was that something awful had happened to one of the parents......after all, they did not know she was bringing the
boyfriend. Coffee does stay warm in a cup for at least a bit and smoke
smell in a house where there is a smoker does prevail throughout a
house. When my neighbor ran to my house when my mother-in-law called
after I had a seizure, she left a hot cup of coffee in her house. Her
husband came home, found the cup, no Cathy.........
I am sorry.......I focused on that.....what seemed to me an automatic
assumption of negativity...when to me the first thought should have been concern. There is this suspicion that is only guaranteed to foster this mistrust and uneasiness between the blind and the sighted. What ever happened to thinking the best of a person until you are given a concrete reason to feel otherwise?
Nervousness is NATURAL when meeting a new person, especially a new important person in your child's
life. But to assume that the parents are negative towards the man's
blindness is just as wrong as any other prejudicial (sp) feeling. Why do
we assume that is their feeling......instead of worrying about their
safety? Could it be that some of this community is as biased toward the whole of the sighted world as it is claimed they are towards us? Just as I
refused to lumped a category of "the blind"; I try not to lump all
sighted people into one faceless group of "the sighted". I think doing
that cheapens everyone and is much too easy. It is too easy to lump all "sighted" into one huge biased community.......I think we all! Fear something we do not know and that is where education comes into play.
Robert asked who should do it.......all of us, one person at a time
because we are not all the same........one blind person can't educate
someone in how to meet me just as I can't do it to meet you......we are
all different people.......
I've rattled on enough so I will sign off. I am not feeling well today
so please excuse the typos and grammar and such.”
Debra Streeter (Victoria, Texas USA)
FROM ME: “This lady spurs me to share with you a inner thought I have concerning my own perspective on the Provokers I tend to write. That is, my but don’t they take the problematic viewpoint? Seeing an issue, a problem, a potential negative response to a person with a visual loss? Well, yes they do. And I ask myself why… its because we who live blindness in this day and age do experience blindness as a problem needing adjustment; we within ourselves and others within themselves and all of us between ourselves. Realizing that, my immediate reaction is, we need to do something about this! We can do something about this! THOUGHT PROVOKER as a concept is a way, one of several. Then finally I say, then it is worth doing, this forum. But, keep your/our eye on the ball! Share the thought, the experience and where you/we can give an idea of what you/we/they can do to eliminate the problem and end up with all those beautiful things all of us desire, are willing to earn and be responsible for and deserve.”
**47. “I have been reading this thread with interest. Rather than tell you if I agree or disagree with some sentiments, I thought I'd tell you what I do around sighted people if I think they may feel uncomfortable. It's rather simple, really. I just tell them something like, "Hey if you have any
questions you want to ask of me, feel free." My feeling is that no question is a dumb or silly one. In fact, I tell people, "The only dumb question is the one not asked." None of the sighted people I've been around mean to offend me. I don't think, in fact, that many of the sighted people we deal with mean offense, rather, they are just curious about how we do things. I think, too, that, especially if we are going to date a person, we should find out up front, what that person's family is going to think and whether or not that person we are dating really cares what their family will think at any rate.
Hope that made since.”
Tim Kilgore (NFB-talk)
**48. “Couldn't the parents absence be incidental? There could be a million and one innocent reasons for it. Maybe they are out in the yard, or at a
neighbors, or have gone to rent videos. And their daughters boyfriend's sight loss is of little concern to them. As a blind parent; just like the sighted; the ultimate goal I wish for my children are their happiness refuse to be paranoid about how my blindness is perceived by others.”
Robin Gregory (Sacramento, California USA)
**49. “I am not sure some of what I could say would be appropriate for the provoker, but the relationship between myself and my wife's
family has been very positive. Her family was of very limited means and she comes from a home where there was both emotional
and physical abuse. Though our relationship is by no means free of turmoil and I do have a problem occasionally controlling
my temper recognize that fact and actively take steps to avoid getting into situations that escalate.
We were in college and got married in my junior year and she finished her sophomore year and went to work to help me finish
school. I was in school part time and volunteering for much of the rest of the time before I went to work for a major corporation.
Ultimately I did not finish my degree until much later after I had been working for nearly 5 years. Her employer did pay
for education but with the kind of work and such it was never convenient for her to finish her education. After her employer
closed its doors she did take advantage of retraining opportunities and changed careers and is now rising rapidly in the
Her family always was proud of us as we represented success in their minds and we have always tried to do what we could to
provide assistance to them if not financially, which was limited, but spiritually and otherwise. Her family is largely splintered
and we are only now after her mother’s death becoming a nucleus for reestablishing communication among its members. This
is not easy so we are not spending a lot of time and energy doing this but our perception by them is still one of respect
and familial good will.
this is somewhat long and wordy but sums up our situation. the excitement really occurs as we build relationships and activities
in my own family. there, the contentions of everyday life continue, though rarely does my blindness arise as I have made
it clear that I will maintain the level of debate on that issue only to that absolutely necessary. that is not to say that
I am hiding anything, but that truly is the condition of vision is that of a nuisance. the real focus is on living taking care
of family needs fixing the car plumbing teenagers community life etc. If blindness is important to doing any one of these
things, than yes we dele with it and put it behind all of us, if not, the are much more intrusting things to do.
BRETT K WINCHESTER PM (KD7JN READING SERVICES
IDAHO COMMISION f/t BLIND & VISUALLY IMPAIRED ICBVI
BOISE IDAHO voice 208-334-3220 fax 208-334-2963
**50. “I don't get it? Am I missing something? I must be.”
**51. “I have not been in this particular situation, however, I think that sometimes, especially with a romantic involvement, it is best to go slowly. Maybe for the first meeting, the family and the blind individual should meet on neutral ground. I think that she should not have shocked them and brought her boyfriend up the next day. Not knowing how they would react, she could have had a less than warming welcome. And, he could have also.
Inviting the family along to dinner or to a concert, might have a good way to introduce the boyfriend. The mother and daughter could talk awhile before meeting the boyfriend.
Clearly, they are going to have questions. I think that short meetings, maybe even the family hearing the boyfriend's voice on the phone is helpful for the sighted family to get use to the
Jan M (USA)
**52. “People do come up with the weirdest interpretations! A lesbian relationship? It never occurred to me! However, what did occur to me when David and I married was that it was a mixed marriage.
Have we experienced discrimination? Sure. On our honeymoon, they tried to keep David off the tour because he couldn't see. An appeal to the hotel management helped, and
we both went. Great experience (Virgin Islands). But for the most part, the discrimination is more subtle. I never seemed to be able to make friends in Synagogue. After awhile, I concluded people were afraid of the thought my husband was blind, as though it made me some strange new animal. One
Synagogue even blackballed us from joining because he was blind! (Their loss) We joined a new one where this discrimination does not exist, at least so far! I was fortunate that my family accepted him fully. The only one who gave me flak was my landlady. Strange world.”
Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)
**53. “This doesn't quite address the provoker under discussion but reading reminded me of an incident that happened at church this morning. We were settling down in preparation for the morning service. I had brought the book of Luke with me and sat reading while waiting.
Behind me sat a charming busybody. She was about eight. She noticed me reading and loudly whispered to her parents that I was blind and reading Braille.
"shh!" her mother whispered. A minute passed. I could sense questions
Hanging in the air between the little girl and her parents.
I turned around in my pew and told the parents that I didn't mind her
asking questions. That was the only way she was going to know about
blindness and see me a person rather than a blind being.
I thought maybe I had said too much and they would be offended. I was
surprised when they agreed. Immediately the little charmer began to let the pent up questions flow.
The parents used their normal voices (no more whispering) to answer her
We pray that this will be a very joyous and blest Christ's
birth. We pray that the new year will be filled with God's blessings.”
Mike, Janet, Michelle and Heidi and of course the two dogs (Napa, Idaho USA)
FROM ME: “Maybe that set of parents will not have a negative reaction if and when their child brings home a blind friend.”
Education, as several folks within this Provoker and others have pointed out, is a major ingredient to eliminating much if not all the negatives in this blindness meets sighted.”
“I think this story illustrates what commonly happens when diverse people get together. Whether the diversity involves, color, religion, or
disability, there are bound to be uncomfortable situations. Many parents are picky about who their children date and, considering the misconceptions out there about blindness, it's no surprise that the parents in the story would be uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying they should be or that they are demonstrating it in a mature way.
What I find fascinating is that this couple involves a sighted woman and a visually impaired man. I know many more sighted women who are married to blind men than the other way around. I think that there is a mindset in our culture that the woman is there to take care of her husband. A second
mindset is that a blind woman would not be the caretaker. Sighted men feel that a blind woman would not be able to take care of them and meet their needs. I am obviously making generalizations here, but I must say I have seen this tendency. I think what can help couples where one partner is
blind is to communicate openly with the parents. Also, the blind partner could do some things which would illustrate to the parents that he/she is a first- class, giving member of society. Examples would include helping with dishes, inviting them to dinner, doing some yardwork, or providing some
other service. I'm not saying a person should need to prove him or herself, but we do live in a culture where it is sometimes necessary.”
Kathy McGillivray (Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
**54. “Seeing is believing! Is a concept that most sighted persons believe in and this is how I won my future parents-in-law of to me, a blind breadwinner and provider for their daughter. The story begins when little miss middle-class (and very lovely and wonderful she was/is) and I met at church. She was visiting a friend in our city; about one hour away from her hometown where she still lived with her parents. To make this short, she and I hit it off at that first meeting; love at first sight/hearing. I invited she and her friend over, fixed them dinner and we, Miss X began to see one another every weekend. Into our second month, with Miss X being away from home two nights over the weekends, her parents ask what it was that she and her old classmate were doing each weekend. She fest up and her parents expressed their concerns. I couldn’t believe all what they had to say, a couple of my favorites were, “We knew you were always interested in the down-trodden and the weird ones.” And, “He’s blind, you will have to take care of him.”
Trying to keep this short, she invited them to come visit and meet me. We made it a date for them to come to my home. They did, I grilled them stakes out on my deck, made drinks from behind my sunken bar in the grand room, Later we swam in my pool and even later drove in my car to get ice cream.
End of story is, I had more of all those material things that Miss X’s parents felt were important, (though I had to point out my framed degrees hanging upon the wall in my den, along with my business licenses in order to give some credence to the fact that I had earned my worldly bobbles and hadn’t just simply inherited them) the result being, they were impressed. Now all is well, except, now I work to show them that I’m not amazing.”
Ron (Texas USA)
FROM ME: though my personal story is not so grand, I too found that after showing my prospective in-laws that I had a home better than what they started marriage with and had a good steady government job, their worries were put to rest. And you know what, parents should be concerned or for sure interested in who their child is having a relationship with, but there is a line, a point of respect that must be drawn; don’t you think?”
**55. “I must post again as I have to agree with all that has been said and I am married to a blind person and I find that my wife does things just the same but different if you catch my drift. she is the same today as yesterday the only thing different is she is now blind. We have found that our friend can understand after talking with her that her life is still a full life.
As far as the story goes let us stop and think about what has been said and done and know that a mom and dad always want what is best for their children, but also remember that the child has grown up and is own her own and has found a wonderful man to spend her life with and that her mom and dad has to accept her decision and the love that is between them and then understand the man and talk to him and learn to know him as a person and not a blind man and that is something that we must all look at first.
It makes no difference as to where the mom and dad are at when they
arrive because I feel that has been covered with different ideas and thoughts. Think of the movie that Sidney Portea was in and a blind girl had him over for supper, and the results of the evening in the movie.”
Just my 2 cents worth.
Willie Burton (Arkansas USA)
**56. “Wow, its amazing just how much talk the topic of relationships will Generate. Yes, it does touch a nerve doesn't it? I think that first of all we need to not be in denial about this issue. It happens and we need to face it. How we deal with it is our own business and is definitely determined by philosophical outlook but, to deny the existence of this sort of reaction on the part of a family towards their daughter's possible relationship with a blind person is foolish and naive. Yes, it happened to me when I was living in Lincoln, NE around 1980. I was playing in a band that had a good deal of local popularity and was in contact with allot of people. I had been dating a woman from southeast Nebraska and we were
supposed to go to her hometown and visit her parents for a weekend. The weekend never happened, the relationship faded away, and I was never given a very straight answer about any of it; at least not by her. I later found out from some of her friends that her parents had some real problems with me and my blindness. Well, perhaps I could have done something about that if I had really known or, perhaps I could have simply blown her off and
moved on. The point is that the decision was made concerning me without me. Yes, we may tend to judge quickly and jump in where we shouldn't and actually hurt others sometimes. Well, this is the arena that we are playing in and its really not by choice so, sometimes its simply a case of shoot or be shot at. If that sort of thing wasn't going on then we
wouldn't need or even have forums such as this one. So folks, lets put the organization bashing and the "we've all just got to love each other and everything will be o.k." mentality aside and look at the issue presented.
If the parents had left for some other reason not related to blindness then this story would have no place as a thought provoker on blindness related issues. I've found this "hiding" mentality to be used as an all too prevalent means of dealing with blind people in our society. This may
happen with other groups as well but, THIS IS A BLINDNESS FORUM!! It
happens at work, in social situations, and in particular, in dating
situations. And often times one is only left to make assumptions based on bits and pieces and hints of what might have gone wrong. Even after asking direct questions of people involved in the particular situation. In fact, I've noticed a trend recently towards simply denying that a question was even raised if it makes the person being asked the question uncomfortable or interferes with their point of view. No, this doesn't mean that I'm a negative person and that I think there's no hope for us. It just means that I'm a realist and that I think we all need to start (and continue) to look at trends in social behaviors towards us as individuals and as a
minority group and address those issues, not run from them.
In our society we have become very good in the recent past at disguising and sanitizing bigotry and I think that we as blind people have become one of many groups subjected to this sort of practice. Its almost as if people believe that if they don't actually come out and say it, then it doesn't
Exist. I've used dating services in the past and I always include
information about my blindness sometime during the initial phone contact. I try to fit it in with something and time the presentation, I don't just blurt it out because, we are rather low incidence and the chance that the person on the other end has even dealt with it is rather low. That's my way, I'm not saying its the best way but, its the method I use. I've only had one situation where someone has actually come out and said to me
directly that they couldn't deal with the blindness. By the way, I
responded to that woman and thanked her for her honesty and told her that I respected her position. After all, there are factors which are nonnegotiable to all of us when considering potential relationships and it is natural to expect that some people would just as soon not deal with it. There are nonnegotiable that I have myself but, this isn't the time for that. It should simply be realized that, again, blindness is one of many factors and, with this woman's response to me, that may simply have been all she was saying which made it easy and reasonable to thank her for her honesty and move on. Yet, I've had many others where I could tell simply by the tone of voice that the impact was immediate and devastating. Well, there are many things in the dating world that evoke such reactions between potential mates (notice how I included the gay factor here...I could have said men and women) but, dog gone it...THIS IS A BLINDNESS FORUM!!!!
PLEASE STAY ON TOPIC...AND THE CHOSEN TOPIC IS BLINDNESS!!
By the way, I've just met a terrific woman and we've discussed some of
these things in our own way. She'd rather I wasn't blind and, I wish we could both pack up and move back to Michigan. Early retirement would be nice, a winning loto ticket would be nicer. I wish she didn't have to travel as much as she does and perhaps I'd like it if her youngest child was a few years older. The point here is that blindness, along with other things about both of our situations, has been discussed and considered as one of many factors as we consider the possibilities for a long-term
relationship. In my book, this is as it should be and we are moving along quite nicely.
Bob simonson (Omaha, Nebraska USA
**55. “I felt that there was suspicion that the parents were avoiding the couple, but I didn't quite understand who was the visually impaired one. Was it the girl or the guy? Were these his or her parents? If the guy was blind, and the girl took the vcr to her parents and he carried it, I think they just might have been disappointed that they didn't see the guy. (the couple, I mean.)
If they had never met, and they were getting along with relatives, I
don't get why the parents would have been upset. Nor do I quite
understand why they were nervous about the meeting, unless it was felt
that the relationship would have been frowned upon by the parents. I
think if people are confident in themselves and their abilities, there
is no need to be overly anxious when meeting any persons you have never
met. If it's important to make a good impression that's normal, if the
nerves are because of the blindness, that's a different story! I am who I am whether I am meeting the U.S. President or my neighbor's son! We should try to strive to always act our best around any new person, since the first
impression will dictate how that person will see us later on should we
meet again. If I were one of these could, I would not have been so quick to jump in with "well, I'm on my own and they can't "say" anything!! I would guess
there's some insecurity on the part of these people, because if you are
certain about your views, and you are believe in yourself, what your
parents and relatives will say or think or do just will not have this
effect. We must realize, that if our parents have a problem with a
handicapped individual, it's "their" problem, and the mature thing is to treat it as such.”
Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City, Tennessee USA
**58. “Well, I have a few comments to make after reading the above
rsponses. First off, I like what the person in response 44 said
about sighted people forgetting we're blind. Man, I don't know about the rest of you, but I often love it when someone says, for instance, "Keep an eye out for it," or "You gotta be blind if you can't see that." Those above quotes came from teachers, one of them today, and the other about two years ago. Man, these people just laughed once I made some humorous comment, and life went on.
Also, another person following mentioned something about questions and
sighted people asking them. Well, I would have to strongly agree with that person's philosophy on that subject. I always or often tell sighted people that it's all right to ask questions, and most often, they will.”
Stacy (Wisconsin USA e-mail:
**59. “A couple thoughts, now that I've read through a few times and also read a few of the other reactions here.
First thing: Who knows what they'll do next? It sounds like, just as the blind person in this story may be reading into the situation more than is there, all of us do as well. The story actually doesn't really say anything about what sort of instructions the girlfriend gave to her boyfriend (girlfriend?); to enter silently, or anything else. Hers might well be a family whose members enter and leave in a fairly free fashion--thus, she just unlocked the door and walked in. When I saw the statement that her parents needed time to get used to his vision loss, I assumed that she must have brought the subject up at some point--a thing
that wouldn't be very unusual for someone to do. (It isn't every day that one finds a blind boy/girlfriend...and why not mention it?) And I assumed that this meant the parents were uncomfortable with the fact. So where were they? Down the street? Hiding? I was scratching my head over that myself. I still don't have a guess. But back to my original point--that our blind hero (He...) had a bad feeling about what appeared to be a hasty exit on the part of his girlfriend's parents. That doesn't mean anything more than he probably has had a couple of run-ins with intolerant folk, and from what he's heard so far, expected more intolerance. Sounds natural to me, but we don't really know for sure what happens next--which is, I guess, why it's a thought
OK, one last thought from me. I haven't run into this sort of thing
myself, at least, not awfully bad like this story, yet. In fact, all of my girlfriends' parents have been at least respectful, and a few of them liked me. My girlfriend Melanie's parents are pretty awful just in general, and since she has a disability also and they have their own issues with that, you can bet there are issues with mine as far as they're concerned. While they don't say much that's really awful to me, at least,
no more than to Melanie, I saw their real feelings, or at least those of Melanie's stepmother, one day in the swimming pool. I was in the pool with her 12-year-old nephew and 6-year-old niece. Blanche, the stepmother, said to the six-year-old, "You can't be in the pool right now. Remember, you
have to have an adult in with you." My immediate reaction was to ask,
"What the hell am I, chopped liver?" They proceeded to make a joke of it, but the implication that I was no better than a child really hit a sore spot with me, as you can imagine.
OK, for what it's worth. ...”
Buddy Brannan (Richardson, Texas USA Buddy Brannan (KB5ELV
**60. “Yes, there is a potential problem here, one that we the blind and most of the sighted can recognize and may have experienced. Blindness is still one of those conditions that most inhabitants of this world view as a negative. In some countries and cultures it is more of a negative than in others. Educating all peoples around the world to the positives of life where blindness is a factor is at question here.
This story obviously takes place in a country of the first order; the USA or England or France, etc.
It is also obvious the parents are aware their daughter has a growing relationship with a man who has a significant visual impairment (no indication in the story to the extent). Second and more the salient fact here, is the parents do not wish their daughter to be involved with the man.
With the main action of the story line being the expected transfer of the VCR, it is known the parents were awaiting the arrival of their daughter.
Finally with the accidental announcement of the daughter’s arrival, the “BEEB, BEEB,” the parents very well could have peered out the house’s windows and seen the man with their daughter and assumed he was the visually impaired suitor. And with that, they very well may have chosen not to meet the blind man and left by a backdoor. (This very experience happened to another respondent in this very report).
The provoking issue then is, how might the daughter handled the introduction of her friend in a different manner, one bringing about a positive result? We don’t know by the story what she had tried up to this point, however what would some of us suggest? Additionally, if the parents stand their ground with the non-acceptance, what would we recommend she do?
**61. “I could relate to this story having my ex boy friend's mom never in the four years we were together like me and no one could figure out why. She was always quite nasty and never included me in things and didn't like my guide dogs and continually was mean while I tried to be nice. This hurts a lot and I think can be very potentially damaging to a relationship. You marry in to a family, not just your significant other and I hope my next significant other be he blind like my last one or sighted would stand up for me and let his parents know as my last one didn't really do, that he
wouldn't take his girl friend being treated that way and it's time to get over it! I have a friend who won't date blind guys and thinks no sighted guy would date me because I'm a total and as positive as I try to be, I sometimes wonder. Yes we need to just get out there and live life and try to show people we're normal if they'll pay attention, but how do we deal with those who are also blind or really have quite a lot of vision but still have blindness problems and lack of blindness skills, how do we tell our friends we're normal. I'd like to see this educational stuff be a thing of the past too, but really don't think it's any time soon. If it were, more products out there might come accessible, more people would just accept guide dogs or canes and adaptive technology and some people with disabilities would stop being so angry and seeing it as "God's punishment” or "an affliction" and would just start living!!!”
Tina Berenbaum (USA email@example.com)
**62. “The story told by Mike, Janet, Michelle, Heidi, and the two dogs in Napa Idaho does tie in to what we've been discussing this month.
Reactions such as those of the girlfriend's parents are, in part, due
to lack of education.
The incident that the folks in Napa Idaho relate, in which a child
asks questions about blindness in church reminds me of a similar
experience I had years ago. As I was reading a braille magazine in
a laundromat while waiting for my clothes to be done, a little boy
asked his dad what I was doing. The father told the boy not to ask
questions now but that they could talk about it later.
At the time, I was more interested in what I was reading and did
not want to stop and make conversation. Also, I think I did not want
to step on the father's toes, so to speak.
So, I said nothing. I realized later that in order to educate the
child, I should have told the father that his son was welcome to ask
questions and that I would be glad to answer them.”
Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming U.S.A
FROM ME: “More of the early prevention stuff! And she is right, she/we should speak up. Again, interesting state of affairs, possibly one of those realities, it’s the blind-guy that has to step forward to instigate the opening, the initial step to learning, to making the situation right. Right? Have you realized this? Have you thought this one through?”
63. “Perhaps one day the time will come when sighted folk won't have to be given special proof that blind folk are "normal" beings with a slight inconvenience.”
Jesse Johnson (Huntsville, Alabama, USA)
FROM ME: “I’m sitting here thinking this one through… Will it? What will it truly take? How do we address it in all our various cultures? Will we eliminate disability some day and that is how?”
**64. “Again I see some positive and issues which all point to education. As we start the new year as persons who are blind, partially sighted, let us reach out as someone did here in a church and extend a greeting to help
educate others. think of it. If we can educate all the children, in twenty years we will have no reason to debate or question why folks ask about
blindness. May each of you in your own religious or non, have a Happy and safe New Year. Smile as it costs you nothing and the rewards are great.”
Lee A. stone (Hudson, New York, U.S.A.
FROM ME: “Having a person write back in to this forum after having read through one or more of the updates is always good; to rethink and elaborate on what was first said or to re-enforce one point of what is being said e or even to change one’s mind. Call it support, involvement, respect to others on the forum…” Thanks.)
**65. “Well gee, could it be that her folks just didn't have anything to offer him when he came to visit, and walked to the corner store for a Mrs. Smith's apple pie? Well maybe not, but I don't think this is necessarily just an issue in a "mixed marriage", I think a lot of parents have an image of what the proper mate for their child should be, and blind is probably not part of the specifications. My wife and I are both blind, and although I can't speak to what her parents may have indicated to her, my parents, especially my mother, had some very specific ideas about what my wife should be like.
Before I met Deb I had a fairly casual relationship with a young sighted woman that lived near my parents. I really thought of her as a friend,
although she seemed more interested than that. She had a two year old child from a previous relationship, and who I thought was a really sweet little girl, and taking on this responsibility was honestly not an issue for me. I just didn't have the same feelings for her mother she seemed to have for me. In any case, I remember my mother saying to me, "I really think you should marry that young lady, and I don't care that she had a child outside of
marriage." Under any other conditions my mother would be very much
concerned about this issue, but she went on to mention the benefits of
having a sighted wife to take care of me and who could drive. When the day came that I called my folks to tell them the news that Deb and I were
getting married, their reaction was not exactly one of overwhelming joy, of course they had never met her, and I think that is a factor for any parents in this situation. My folks met Deb three days before the wedding, in
person anyway, and I am pleased to say, my mother took me aside the evening before the wedding and said, "I really like Deb, I think you made a good choice." My dad never said much when it came to these things, but I could tell he approved. About my in-laws? Well, I'm not sure they know quite what to think of my blindness, I don't quite fit their notion of what a
blind guy should be, but for the most part we manage to have a pretty good relationship. Maybe a little better than a lot of folks have with their in-laws. Frankly, if Deb's folks had pulled a disappearing act, they would probably still be hearing about it from Deb, and I would say the same for my folks as well. Fortunately our parents were mature enough to be polite, and reasonable. Maybe these folks were running out for an apple pie after all.”
Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA
**66. “First, I'd like to mention that I had a
friend from high school and his mother ran into mine and they started
comparing notes about their blind children and this mother said that
she'd never allow or encourage her son to date a blind person. My mom
never had a problem with that. People are people and she understood
that to a point. The only time she had a problem was when I went to
an all African American church. I could have black friends but don't
go anywhere like that with a black guy. "What about your reputation?"
I told her that it didn't matter. I didn't know anyone in the
community and it didn't matter anyway.
The second comment is that recently, I was talking to a sighted friend
who has a master's degree in library scene (this is to give you
awareness of her education level). She stated that most blind people
are socially unacceptable and that I am the exception. I was
surprised and disagreed but asked her to explain. She told me of an
incident. A blind man came into the children's room where she worked
and asked for help to get to the audiovisual room. She gave him
directions and he said that it was too difficult for him and that he
actually needed someone to take him there. This, in itself was an
indication of helplessness when the room was just down the hall. But
she said that she would take him. She had him take her arm to lead
him there and he touched "groped" more than her arm. She told him he
was being inappropriate and he acted ignorant and asked what he was
doing wrong. She said "You know perfectly well what you are doing.
I'll take you to the AV room but you will stop with the hands." She
said to me that I was an exception. I am still surprised that she
judges a group of people by the actions of one. I've tried to fight
that in my own head when my family was robbed eleven times in a
predominately black neighborhood. I had to stop assuming that the
robbers were black and remember that one person does not characterize
the whole group.”
Marcie Brink (Kalamazoo, Michigan USA
**67. “Hey, I would think there's a certain amount of that mother-in-law reluctance with any prospective daughter or son in law but you're right, if you're blind it may take a certain amount of time for them to separate stereotype from reality.”
SueEllen Melo (USA)
68. “I for one would like to here from people in other countries. I wonder how they deal with acceptance of a blind person into their family? I’m also wondering if the blind in different countries have much of an opportunity to date the sighted? I’ve known a few people from less developed countries and saw they looked down on people who were disabled, more than we do. Let’s hear from them and I don’t mean that we will make fun of them. We just want to learn and to teach them too. I know each culture is different, but I’m also wondering how we might help one another to improve in each of our countries.”
Sissy McClaiera (USA)
*869. “I am the father of a sighted teenager. I’ll say this. I don’t care if the person she brings home is sighted or blind. But I do care if that person is a whole man in respects to self-confidence and ability. I want my daughter to have an equal pardoner.”
A Father Who Cares (USA)
**70. "I thought this was an interesting example. I'm not blind, but I thought you
might like to hear a different perspective on this problem. I had dated this
guy that was deaf for a few months. The first time he came over to my
apartment to meet my roommates was a weird experience. One of my roommates had
taken a few sign language classes and I was under the impression that she
would be excited to get a chance to use what she'd learned. Unfortunately,
she stayed in her bedroom the entire time he was there (about 4 hours) and
when I asked her if she'd like to meet him, she said that she was too busy.
Later she told me that she was too nervous and intimidated by him. I went to
a mainstreamed elementary school when I was 10 and learned sigh language
then and was completely comfortable with using it, so it never occurred to me
that she would feel so intimidated and uncomfortable. It was also kind of
hard to remember back about 15 years to try and relate to her. I think that
could be part of the problem from your story.”
Beth Sallay (USA)
FROM ME: "Thank you lady! Yes, it is not just a blindness problem. As for the friend here, could she have been questioning her own skills?"
**71. "As I was reading the subject and the responses, my thought was along
the lines of why is there always the comparison between the blind and the
sighted especially when it comes to being in relationships. I do know there
are always going to be comparisons because even within the disability arena
there are comparisons between this disability and that disability. I,
have never dated someone sighted since the loss of my sight 12
years ago, why is that if in fact the parents of the sighted person are
uncomfortable with her being with someone who is blind why would it not be
the same for the parents or the family of someone who is blind? If the
parents don't or didn't know how to approach the topic with the other
individual in regards to the blind thing why should it be rushed?
Where I'm trying to come from is since being in a relationship with
someone who is also blind, but 9 years younger than I why wouldn't her
parents want to know about me and how could I or would I provide for her once
they seen how serious we are. To this date her parents have yet to talk
with me about any of our plans for the future of for that matter what my
career aspirations are. My approach to this whole subject has been to have
her initiate conversation about us. Once she sees it's not going anywhere
to don't let it even bother her. I've come to realize you can't force
someone to accept you if they don't want to, but by there being conversation
a little at a time things do get better once those family members see what
type of person you really are. Does it get tough? Yes, of course it does,
but it's all about having patients, especially if the 2 people involved
really care for one another. My thing is this there really is nothing a
person can do by rushing or pushing the topic on someone who is already
uncomfortable with it.
So people let's take a look at things here for what they are worth
because we all who are blind go through the same thing so this really makes
us no different from the issue above. Again, don't we have our own
expectations of people who get together with our children sighted, blind or
for that matter a wheelchair user?”
**72. "I had to respond to the comments that marriages/relationships are better
between blind persons, I think it was number 9. Although I understand the
sentiment, it's like saying drug addicts would be better sticking to other
drug addicts, or manic depressive should seek out other manic depressives.
I think it's more important to meet and settle down with someone you feel at
ease with and have mutual love and respect. Was going to write a whole load
of stuff but that one comment made me sit up and listen...will write again
Darren Hartland (Birmingham, United kingdom)
**73. "Is it not true to say that in this scenario as on-lookers (excuse the pun) we are all blind to the true facts of the situation. We can all make assumptions
as to the parents perhaps hiding and watching from a distance, nipping out to the shop for something, or whatever.
The couple going through the nerves of the first meeting with the parents is enough. I am sure I would be questioning why they weren't home, with coffee
and cigarette on the go. However I think I would leave a note, that as a couple we had called that they had not been home, and left it at that.
If the parents needed time to come to terms with the dating of someone with a disability that is there problem. It might be simpler but who knows. It
would be great to know the actual outcome."
**74. " in response to this thought provoker, I will give my analysis of the situation and then relate my own dating experiences. In regards to the scene
and the dating couple in the story, putting aside the possibility that the parents had stepped out for a few minutes (which I am very much inclined to
believe was the case), the parents may have been unsure of how they would approach the visually impaired man. If, on the other hand, they already knew
about his blindness and all his capabilities, it's possible that they did not approve of her relationship with him in the first place for reasons not given
in the story. In other words, blindness may not have been an issue at all. Rather, it was something else we don't know about. They say that there are
two sides to every story, but I think that there are many sides to a story. We don't know how long the couple had been together before this visit to her
parents' house. nor do we know if any conversations between she and her parents occurred beforehand, if any, or what transpired, etc. Presuming, however,
that blindness may have been the issue, I cannot really say for sure whether or not she should have told her parents ahead of time or waited until they
arrived that evening. Yes, sometimes telling the parents ahead of time can pave the way, but there are those other times when doing such won't make a
difference whether you tell them ahead of time or just show up. Such was the case with my parents when my husband and I went over to my parents house
for Christmas Eve (more on this story in a bit).
Before my husband and I met, I dated sighted and blind people and sought to date people of different races. My first real date was with a sighted man,
but we were only together for a month. It didn't seem like blindness was an issue, though, because walking sighted guide with him made us feel much closer
to each other than me walking beside him with no physical contact. We would walk around downtown, talking intimately about religion, family, etc. The
next thing I knew, he wasn't returning my phone calls, or his parents were telling me that he had stepped out even though I could hear him talking to someone
in the background. I didn't think much about blindness being the issue, so I figured that he was afraid that we may have been moving too fast. After
all, we were starting to hold hands more and more while we were at the bowling alley as he helped me find the ball; later that same evening, we gave each
other a tight hug and kissed when he dropped me off at home; and a couple weeks after the bowling alley gig, I gave him a homemade birthday card, expressing
my love for him and my hopes for us to have a prosperous long relationship. Finally accepting the fact that the relationship was certainly over, the only
blindness-related thought I had that probably contributed to our break up was his concern about children also being blind and the responsibilities for
a blind wife and, possibly, children he thought he would be burdened with. I later found out from his brother, though, that the break-up was due to his
fear that we were moving too fast.
I dated another sighted guy about eight months or so later, but that relationship didn't last long either. This time, though, it was because he didn't
want to feel like he had to be responsible for a blind person in public or if we were to have considered starting a family. I would've tried to educate
him, but (1) he had his own self-esteem issues, and (2) we just didn't have much in common as far as what we wanted in life in a relationship or having
My next date, which was six months after my second sighted boyfriend and I broke up, was totally blind. We were together six months, but it was quite
a struggle yet a good experience of many opportunities to educate people about blindness. He lived a very sheltered life, and his parents did everything
for him rather than force him to learn independent living skills. So, at my apartment, I was constantly having to clean up after him and check over his
cleaning up even after having showed him how to clean without making more of a mess. I was the one who was teaching him more skills and self-confidence
rather than giving in to babying him as his parents did. While trying to teach someone is not a problem for me, it was a problem when teaching my boyfriend
because he saw me as pushing him too hard. Even when I lightened up, he would use his blindness as a crutch for not being able to go further than what
he knew over the many years. Hoping that we would work through all of it one day, we started talking about marriage and kids one day. While it sounded
like a wonderful idea to both of us, again, he would fall back on his blindness as his excuse that, maybe marriage and having kids would not work out.
I just wasn't getting anywhere with him. I was ready to start a family (I was twenty-five by this time), but he, as I soon found out halfway into our
relationship, wasn't ready nor wasn't sure whether or not he had the wherewithal for such. After more struggling and wanting so badly for our relationship
to work out, I finally gave into the fact that my hope was not going to come through between us. On the day that I finally went over to his house and
broke the news to him that it was over, I learned from his parents that, not only had he lived a very, very sheltered life, but that his parents didn't
know much about how capable blind people could truly be. His parents used his balance and orientation problem as justification for not learning independent
living skills or traveling alone. Sure, I understood imbalance and orientation problems, but, given the chance, opportunity, and forceful encouragement,
I'm quite sure that he could've made it and would've been in his own apartment without supervision. After all, I personally knew a blind gal with CP.,
and she's living in her own apartment without supervision.
In talking with his parents, though, I had the opportunity to educate them--how a blind person could watch TV, cook, travel, etc. About two months
into our relationship (the blind guy and I, he introduced me to a radio announcer/manager of a local radio station I listened to (where I used to live).
All three of us got together for lunch, and we sat around talking about radio-related things--music, commercials, etc. After lunch, the announcer/manager
offered to take me on a tour of the station once my boyfriend's ride arrived to pick him up. As we were headed to the radio station with me going sighted
guide, the announcer commented on how I walked so smoothly like a dancer. Of course, I was flattered by the compliment, but I had not gave my way of walking
much thought until it occurred to me that he had probably gone places with my boyfriend, who walks with very tiny, shuffled steps and holds onto your arm
for dear life as if he's afraid he might fall off a cliff. So, though, the relationship between that boyfriend and I didn't work out, I was given the
opportunity to show sighted people who knew him all the potential blind people really have.
My next and final boyfriend (my husband, John) followed five months after my break-up with the blind guy. John is sighted but is slowly losing his
sight due to diabetes. Anyway, about a month after he and I got together, he took me over to his ex's house to meet his oldest daughter, who had stayed
home that day because she was ill. I don't remember much about that day other than the fact that there was no mention about my being blind. In fact,
the kids, whom I met before I met his ex, weren't afraid of me. Nor did they question about blindness. I think it was because they didn't know what to
say or how to ask their questions. A week or so after that, I finally met his ex when she and the kids picked us up to go shopping. Like any close-knit
family, everyone, including the kids, were still unsure about me, but it had nothing to do with blindness. Rather, it had to do with the fact that many
of John's past dates didn't get along with his ex even though they loved his kids. About a month into our relationship was when blindness finally came
up. John and I were over at his ex's house and she had just bought a pair of white pearl earrings. She was showing it to John but didn't know how to
show it to me since I couldn't see the colors. I overheard his ex ask John in a whisper how she would do this. As I slowly walked over to where they
were talking, John was explaining how all she had to do was to describe the colors to me an put it in my hand so that I could feel them. That broke the
ice, as I was describing the intricate corners and indents in the earrings, and how light bouncing off of it has a way of making the earrings look one
way in one position vs. in another position. The next icebreakers after that were when the ex and kids saw me doing the dishes and taking the garbage
out for them, and when I inspected one of the kids' cleaning chores and found it to be done well. When asked how clean or how neat it was done, I said
that "it looked pretty good to me". I never thought about what I was saying, but it made for a joke when his ex said, "oh, you can see that". To this
day, we are always making a joke about me "seeing" something or what a place looks like. For example, if we're talking about a bunch of buildings in one
area, we all make joke about the fact that "hell if I know; the buildings all look alike to me", and we just roar out laughing with me practically rolling
on the floor with a stomach ache. By the way, since that day with the earrings, she bought me a pair exactly like it for my 26th birthday. Since then,
too, his ex and the kids confide in me, telling me things that they'd never told John previously.
While John's relatives, kids, and ex grew to accept me as a person with the blindness not a factor other than just something that is, my parents, on
the other hand, were not too happy; they still aren't to this day. For one thing, they had one heck of a control issue with me even though I was already
twenty-five, soon to be twenty-six by the time John and I met. My parents wanted say in everything I did or didn't do. Rather than blindness being the
issue, it was color. Because my parents adopted me, they saw me as white even though I'm a dark-skinned Asian. Thus, they expected me to only date white
guys. Well, the dates before John were all white, so there was no problem there. She expected me to date sighted and blind people, but a black native-American
man was a whole different ballgame. Knowing their issue with race, being that most of my friends in high school were black and my parents detested it,
I did the honorable thing to tell my parents ahead of time that John was black rather than just bring him with me to the holiday get-togethers without
any information provided. To make a long story short, they not only disapproved my relationship with John, but they did everything they could do to alienate
and humiliate John and I in front of everyone. It would not have mattered whether I told my parents ahead of time that he was black or just showed up
with a boyfriend and them finding out right there on the spot. Despite the in acceptance, though, I refused to allow their thoughts or actions influence
mine and John's relationship. In fact, even if his ex and kids didn't accept me, I wasn't going to let them run me off so long as John and I still wanted
and loved each other. To this day, my family doesn't accept John, and I, by default, am not accepted either. Giving up on trying to mend broken relationships
with my siblings and parents or trying to get them to try to understand what kind of person John really is (not a thief out to take advantage of me as
a blind person), I found it better to just cut ties with John and I going our own way, separate of any who disapproved.
To this day, people in public stare at John and I from time to time, as they see me with my white cane holding onto John's elbow, and they see John
with his walking cane for balance. Not only are some ignorant, but many are curious because they wonder how we do it. We always explain to people, though,
that he is my eyes and I am his legs (helping him walk with more stability than he would otherwise be able to do with just his cane).
Like many have said, not only is blindness vs. sighted or a couple different disabilities an issue in mixed marriages, but differing religions, race,
etc. are a factor. In writing my experiences, who is to say that the dating couple in the story are not different colors--one white and the other black--for
example. Regardless of the mixing, not only are the couples dating involved, but the families are involved. That's when both partners have to work together
in educating people as well as working on their relationship with each other. Yes, such as in my parents' case, there may not be such a thought as educating
them because of established opinions that they don't want to change. In other cases, though, there's that opportunity to educate because the people who
don't know want to know more.