I decided that since I couldn’t read books to my own children then I would make it my goal to be able to read to my future grandchildren. Although I didn’t go blind until my boys were three and one years old, I had partial sight that prevented me from reading aloud to them. When it did come time to go blind, there was so much to do to simply stay afloat, that reading was below cooking, cleaning and washing on the list of things to do!
It wasn’t until braille came into my life four years later in 2001 that reading books in the conventional way started to become possible again. But by this time I was a single blind parent and my boys were now 7 and 5. Too late for their mother’s slow reading fingers to read aloud to them, but none the less, I was gradually able to read again.
Years passed, I got work, I met Ron, the boys grew up, we travelled to Paris for Louis Braille’s 200th birthday, we began to travel even more, visiting the Seven Wonders of the World, eventually travelling to 50 countries by the time I was 50.
What did I still want to do?
I wanted to read aloud…….
If not to my own children, then to my own grandchildren and if not to them, to other grandchildren!
I didn’t have any grandchildren of my own yet but it was time to prepare.
Since the age of 18, when I became partially sighted, reading had been a struggle, Reading aloud an impossibility.
I knew from my training as a life coach, that my daily action must be aligned with my goals, no artist could create a painting without drawing a line a day, no author write a book without writing a page a day. Similarly no future blind Granny could read their grandchild a book without reading at least a page a day! So, starting last November, one page a day it was. I started with a promotional publication from the National Braille Press sent from America, page by page I read with my fingers. I started with just one page but as my confidence grew, so did the number of pages at one sitting. I moved onto bigger braille books but as my focus moved off the page and onto a whole book I lost focus. The braille books seemed overwhelming in contrast to the pamphlets I had been reading so I had an idea…..
I decided to stay focused on my goal of reading to my grandchildren and get some kids books to practise on. The Homai Library does a range of books in the Twin Vision series which are print children’s books with a braille overlay! I requested a few be sent to me for the Christmas period so on Sunday 27 December, when the house was finally quiet, I got stuck in to a book called “our Granny” by Margaret Wild! I read it word by word, from cover to cover, gliding my fingers over some words with ease, while stumbling over others. The best part was of course finishing it, although it could be said that the best part was that the title was something very close to my heart – the term Granny! That’s what the grand children call my Mum! “our Granny!”
I returned to the larger books again as I had read all my children’s titles, but again I lost focus with the bigger braille books.
Again I phoned the Homai Library the week before Easter to ask for some more children’s books. This time I asked about Hairy MacLary from Donaldson’s Dairy and other New Zealand favourites. I spoke with the librarian Katherine and explained my goal of reading to my future grandchildren. She said they had Hairy MacLary and would send it down plus any other Lynley Dodd titles they had.
This Easter, I went to go for my morning walk and as I opened the front door of our apartment building the courier arrived and said “Can you please place this inside?” “Who’s it for?” I enquired. “Julie” she replied. “Oh that’s me!” I squealed, handing me the bag to take. I instantly recognised it’s touch and knew what it was. My new braille books. I placed the bag inside the building and carried on with my morning walk. Upon my return, I picked the bag up from the foyer of our apartment building and came upstairs.
I joined Ron at the dining table, when he enquired “what’s that?” “Oh it’s my new braille books, I hope it’s Hairy MacLary” I smiled.
I pulled one of the books out and ran my fingers over the braille title. I couldn’t believe my fingers. “OMG” I cried out. “What’s the matter?” asked Ron.
“This book they sent me, it says Zachary quack!”
My elder son is called Zachary and his friends used to nick name him quack! Here I was, preparing myself to read to my future grandchildren and I’m sent a book with my son’s name in the title!
I think I might be on track!