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April 05, 1963 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-04-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

N

Moving Story of Forty Years of Blindness

By DANIEL L. TICKTON
I consider my life to be divid-
ed into two periods: the first, a
normal, business - like atmo-
sphere with the enthusiasm and
satisfaction of one's capabilities
and achievements; the second,
a sudden plunge into darkness
and uncertainty, requiring an
adjustment, a quest for new
values and ideals and philoso-
phies, and a steadfast determin-
ation to meet the problems of
daily existence.
The dividing line occurred
on March 23, 1923, only one
week before Passover. That
morning I was still the hard-
working accountant. Driving
home in my car that afternoon,
however, things abruptly took
on a new appearance and even-
tually a new meaning as well.
That afternoon my left eye went
blind.
At the time I thought it was
merely a strange feeling in my
eyes with no great significance.
But the following morning Dr.
Gleason informed me that I had
completely lost sight in one eye.
His opinion was corroborated
by Dr. Parker, an eminent oph-
thalmologist then. Fear, trepida-
tion took hold of me that first
moment.
This was Friday. For me it
was the end of an era, the end
of the optimism, that had char-
acterized my outlook on life
until that day.
My wife's first reaction to the
news was electrifying, but she
said affectionately—and how I
recollect her words—"The Pass-
over feast is all prepared.
Let's celebrate." And we did.
* * *
My family was average. The
children were young, the oldest
12 years old. My wife was the
one who made the holiday fes-
tive and merry. She was my
only source of encouragement
and was forever at my side with

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words of tenderness and solici-
tation. She passed away in 1947,
and how I miss her to this day!
Encouraged by my wife, I
didn't permit the handicap to
conquer me. I entered the gen-
eral insurance business in July,
1923, and it took weeks of tribu-
lation to land my first small
account. It was a bitter struggle.
Even with limited sight in one
eye, I had difficulty getting
around.
The real climax, however,
came in August, 1934. I was out
with my driver collecting insur-
ance premiums. It was late af-
ternoon, the sky covered with
dark clouds. The car, my driver
inside, was parked around the
corner. As I approached the car
I felt a click in my good eye.
Everything turned black.
It had happened! There had
been no warning this time,
either. The blackness of the
world around me matched the
darkness of my bitterness and
regret.
* * *
I was not totally unprepared
for this. During the years of
my limited sight I realized I
would have to improve • my
memory should total blindness
occur. Daily I studied prayers
by heart, including services for
Sabbath and the High Holidays.
Lack of sight did not preclude
friends, and neither did it per-
mit me to slow my services to
my customers. -
The years had the tendency
of eliminating the original fears
and hostilities. Now, I strongly
object to the Talmudic expres-
sion that "A blind person is con-
sidered like a dead person."
That is the sentiment that
too, experienced before becom-
ing completely blind.
But I have found out other
things since then. A blind per-
son is not mentally dull nor a
fool. Hope does not vanish from
his life. True, many new prob-
lems arise. There is the omni-
present problem of bumping
into things, knocking my fore-
head on open cabinets, colliding
with lamps, walking into open
closet doors.
People, though often gener-
ous with their help, often begin
treating me like a child. They
think I am utterly helpless and
cannot manage without their
constant and unyielding solicita-
tion. They often ask me ques-
tions, about blindness and the
kind of life I lead, that are sin-
cere and serious. There is one
thing about blindness, however,
that I would very much like to
stress: life is not over; it can
even be funny and fun-filled.
I have many interests and
hobbies. There are the "talking
record books," records furnish-
ed by the Library of Congress
and the Library for the Blind,
Wayne County. Also, I have dis-
covered an increased ability to
memorize. To know people by
their voices, memorize the
names of my accounts, prayers,
phone numbers—my ability for
this has sharply increased.
* * *
But there are still drawbacks
which must realistically be
faced. There are things that

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irritate me considerably. Chief
among these are people who
cunningly approach me, and,
after having not spoken to me
for ages, suddenly ask me to
identify them. They don't tell
me who they are, but insist on
playing a guessing game. It's
these same people who gener-
ally give rise to another prob-
lem: nodding or shaking their
heads in reply to a question.
For Pete's sake, what kind of an
answer is a nod to me? I wish
people would use their mouths
when saying yes or no.
Life can be lived even through
the wall of blindness. I have
four radios in different rooms
in my house and can normally
recognize stations by the voices
of various commentators. I do
my own touch typewriting, dial
a phone by myself, have written
several stories and articles
which were published in The
Jewish News and other publica-
tions, and have never missed an
election by going to the poll
or by absentee ballot. I have to
do a -bit of guess work when it
comes to foods. I judge most
things by taste. My palate and
.tongue are invaluable guides.
My nose failed me only once.
I brushed my teeth with what
seemed to be tooth paste, but
which turned out to be oint-
ment. After that I could not
smell anything and became
alarmed. Dr. Mosen, whom I
phoned at 11 p.m., assured me
that ointment has the tendency
of blotting out smells for a
while.
Many people ask how I enjoy
eating. I try to satisfy others
and especially the hostess. If
my food is all served on one
plate, it is arranged clockwise,
and each food is assigned a cer-
tain "number" on the plate. If
my hostess tells me that the
meat is on 12 o'clock, the pota-
toes on 6 o'clock, and so forth,
eating can be a lot of fun. I
admit that I am a bother to
others. But, taking various fac-
tors into consideration, I think
I've made a successful adjust-
ment. I had educated and mar-
ried off three children, attended
their sons' bar mitzvahs, their
daughters' confirmations, and
even my granddaughter's wed-
ding, most of which were out-
side Detroit. I never missed the
Passover sedorim .with my chil-
dren either at Great Neck, N.Y.,
or Washington, D.C.
Now that I am past 81, what's
ahead for me? I believe in
crossing that bridge when I
come to it. I don't think or plan
for years or even months, but
day by day. In spite of all, I'm
a happy-go-lucky person. I have
life, a job, ability to get along
with myself and others. I man-
age my daily affairs without
difficulty, and I live with a
feeling of pride for my-children
and myself.
Fear and uncertainty plagued
me particular when blindness
first occurred. But that fear
has been replaced by a lifetime
of eagerness, with the solidarity
of experience and personal
philosophy.
If there is one thing that has
constantly reinforced my desire
to succeed, to prove a worthy
father, accountant, and citizen,
if there is one thing that has
pulled me out of depression
and out of my quandary, it is
faith in the Lord. All my life
I have tried to walk upon roads
of righteousness. I think my
success is due to the fact that
the roads were paved with the
Lord's good graces and bless-
ings-.

.

Bnai Brith Suburban
Lodge Will Present
Romney on Brotherhood

The Detroit Suburban Lodge
of Bnai Brith is sponsoring an
evening with Governor Romney
8:15 p.m. April 17 at Cong.
Shaarey Zedek. Gov . Romney
will be speaking in honor of
brotherhood. This is a non-sec-
tarian affair and the public is
invited to attend.

.

Utica to Publish
Contributors' Names.

Trinitsky-Cherrih

Troth

An110117e.ed

UTICA, N. Y., (JTA)—A de-
cision that the Jewish Commun-
ity Council here and its fund-
raising arm, the local United
Jewish Appeal, publish a full
community report, detailing all
income and allocations and list-
ing also all local contributors as
well as amounts contributed by
each, was endorsed publicly here
by the top leadership of the
Council and local UJA.

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