Monday, September 9, 2013

Inspired by A New Friend

We had a cool experience tonight.

Lucas and I were walking Moose on our regular path through the neighborhood to a nearby park. At the top of a hill we turned from a main road onto a side street, and about 15 feet ahead of us was a blind mind walking in the street, close to the curb. He had a guide stick and would swing it in front of him as he walked. He was using it to keep himself close to the curb.  There was a sidewalk on the other side of the street, and we had seen him there before, but this time he was in the road which was unusual.

I called out to him, "Hello!"
He slowed his walk, continuing to tap his walking stick on the curb to make sure he knew where he was standing. He replied, "Hi, how are you?"
We said, "We are good, thanks. How are you?"
He answered, "Good! Is this Dry Creek Rd?"
We were a block away from Dry Creek, and Lucas replied, "No, this is Xanthia." and I said,  "The street ahead is Yosemite. If you turn right at the corner, the next intersection would be Dry Creek."
He looked assured, smiled, and said "Thank you!"
We passed him, walking in the grass. He was close to the corner now, but Lucas turned and watched him for a second and called back, "Hey, would you like us to help you find your way somewhere?"
The blind man looked relieved and affirmed that he would appreciate that.

We turned around and walked beside him back up the hill, when we got the intersection he came to stand close to us and was no longer in the road.
"I'm Neil" He said.
Lucas introduced himself and shook Neil's hand. As I said, "I'm Amber," Neil took his hand and reached it to the wrong side of Lucas to shake my hand. I grabbed it and shook his hand.
When the light told us we could cross the street, we stepped off the curb. I was impressed to see how he used his stick to know just when to step up onto or down off of a curb. At first he started walking into the middle of the intersection, so I walked next to him, grabbed his arm and helped steer him in the direction of the crosswalk.
As we walked the block to where he wanted us to lead him, we talked about the neighborhood where we both live. We agreed it is a wonderful place to live, and he said he had been here about a year and a half now.

As I watched him use his guiding stick to find another curb to step down, I asked him, "Is it hard to learn to use that?"
Neil said, "Yes. Actually it was quite difficult. See, I've been completely blind for about nine years now."
"Nine years?" I said, "Wow... Do you mind if I ask what caused it?"
He said, "Not at all. It's actually an amazing story."
Lucas and I were quiet, listening to him as we walked.
Neil continued, "See about nine years ago I was quite depressed. I was having a really hard time. I tried to commit suicide actually."
"I'm so sorry. I am glad we got to meet you." I said. I felt a little bad that I had asked him to tell his story, but he seemed more than happy to share and he continued.
"Thank you, I am glad too. So I put a nine millimeter to my right temple, and I pulled the trigger. It is a miracle that I'm still alive, that I'm even here. I've been blind since that day. So there is a reason that I'm still alive. There is also a reason that I'm blind!" He was so happy as he told us this, smiling as he walked.
I said, "Wow, what a miracle!"
Lucas said,"That's amazing that you can look at it like that. Some people would go the other way." 
As we got to the corner where he would no longer be lost he replied to Lucas, "Thank you. The only real disability is a bad attitude!" 
We agreed, amazed by this man. We asked if he would like us to walk him the rest of the way home, he said he knew where he was now and thanked us for helping him get there. We said goodbye, and watched him walk down the street. We turned around at the corner, amazed at his strength and his good attitude.

Later on our walk, we ran into him again in the neighborhood, we had gone two different directions on a circle. He knew where he was and was headed towards his house. What a blessing that we got to meet Neil right now. The way this man looks at his own tragic story is full of gratitude and he shared that with us right away and so happily. Meeting Neil tonight was amazing.

A little dose of perspective can do wonders.


BestSundayDress said...

agreed. thank you for sharing :o)

Jana said...

You guys have the best stories. Thanks for sharing :)