by Randy Pierce
Certainly, my first and most significant challenge initially was coming to terms with my blindness and the impact I would allow it to have on my life. Since then, I find the most challenge lies with misconceptions of or hesitation from others. This is why I was so impressed and inspired when I learned the story of a 7-year-old girl named Abby and the open-minded help she gets from her friends and family, particularly her mother Penny who keeps a very worthy blog called “Adventures with Abby.”
Abby’s resilience has never been in question, as this very active and outgoing girl seems to have battled less with the challenges herself than her own family has. She strives to avoid being different and to undertake as much as possible with an admirable courage and independent drive. This soon-to-be second grader spent last summer not dwelling on her journey into blindness, but learning to ride her bike instead. Her mother Penny relayed this with deserved pride, “She never really went through the sadness that Chris and I went through when we realized our daughter was legally blind. She was bummed yes, upset about being different yes. She never let it stop her from doing what she wanted to do.”
For a parent, though, this journey was filled with more challenges. “It’s heartbreaking to realize your child isn’t going to experience the world like you believe a child should experience the world. Watching your child walk right by you, not recognizing you as their mother, is a crushing feeling the first few times it happens. I quickly realized I needed to stop feeling sorry for Abby and myself. We needed to focus on her education because that would be the biggest challenge. I needed to stop worrying about what she couldn’t see but rather what she could do, and what I needed to do to help her do what she needed.”
Abby has been teaching many lessons, as Penny also shared, “I have had MANY misconceptions. I thought losing one’s vision was the worst thing that could happen in your life. I thought it made you dependent on others, and all my dreams for my little girl would never come to be true. Now I realize that Abby will be able to still go to college and have a chance at a career in whatever she would like. I thought Abby becoming blind was an end, but now I know it’s a beginning.”
One of Penny’s lessons was learning to keep an open mind, which allows her to explore the unknown in search of education into all the possibilities that can exist for Abby. Often, things such as Braille, which can seem intimidating, are actually an incredibly empowering tool. I took the time to share their recent discoveries from August of last year to now, as they explore the ramifications of blindness, with Abby as their guide. Even Penny herself is surprised when she recalls how far the adventure has taken her, “I already look back at my old posts with my old concerns and don’t’ recognize the person who wrote them.”
I am enjoying many of my own adventures with 2020 Vision Quest, and yet none can compare to the adventures I find in the human experience. I am glad to have met and become inspired by some fantastic folk and look forward to many similar adventures ahead!