The year 2006 is over and we are now in the month of January. Unlike Janus however, I cannot look both ways and foretell the future - maybe just as well. I can nevertheless look back on the last month and try to generate enough confidence to look forward a few months. That will be no easy task because self-assurance in the future is the one thing I have yet to acquire - and that is putting it mildly. The truth is, it has been over a year and I still have sleepless and terrifying nights when I think of my prospects in this black world - not something to contemplate.
What a confession, what a pathetic lack of spirit! What an attitude to start planning the months ahead; so much for that New Year's resolution. My computer, who I notice is already overdue a retraining session, is allowing his vocabulary to fall too readily into a pseudo east-coast American vernacular put it to me thus, “Get a life. I do not want to listen to such talk, so get with it. A glance back to last month to close the year would be in order.” I think he is probably right but he should know that if my chronicles are to serve any cathartic purpose to me, or interest to the reader, it is my life presented as when and how I see it at that particular time of recording - or sadly rather I should say, don't see it.
However, to move on, it was indeed a busy and very active month, as one would expect with the festive season well and truly upon us.
But, let me get this out of the way first. Early in the month I had a very disappointing consultation with my eye surgeon in the hospital - my fault entirely, having naively built up my hopes only for me to be told that there had been no surgical or medical advances since last I saw him (three months previous). In essence the situation remains as is. An operation would have little chance of success but very severe damage and pain would likely result from any attempt. I tried to get across that I accept now that I will never have any practical sight, but if he could get some little light into my retina it would be quite literally the difference between night and day. It would be a godsend to escape the blackness occasionally and I would happily put up with the pain. I was quite deflated but I know, in spite of reason, my optimism will return in time for my next visit in February when once again I will pester the surgeons by probing them on any advance in their subject matter.
Now to the month's happier events - and there were many. For instance: Joyce and I returned to the glorious Gleneagles Hotel for a couple of days to join a party of some 60 friends to celebrate the 80th birthday of my oldest friend, Douglas.
The hotel had lost none of its splendour and 'Douglas' hospitality could not have been bettered - a marvellous occasion all-round. He had laid on for his guests, falconry, archery, clay pigeon shooting, ice skating, swimming and, of course, golf. Then an evening dinner with a live band playing our type of music throughout. It was our type of music, but surprisingly the younger generation, and I mean those in their 40and 50s, brought up with disco music, did not really know how to ballroom dance - holding your partner while dancing, and I could hear them say, "They are actually holding each other! What is the world coming to?"
On top of all that Joyce and I indulged in reminiscing on the many happy times at Gleneagles in the yesteryears.
In the middle of the month I received a visit from Terry, (Guide-Dogs for the Blind), to assess me as to my suitability to become a guide-dog owner. The very interesting meeting lasted for well over two hours. I was well and truly interviewed and investigated - these people leaving nothing to chance. It is a long process and rightly so, if and when you are chosen it takes time to match the right kind of companion and involves intensive training with both you and your new partner. Apparently it costs about £40,000 to train to breed and train a guide dog, and of course the new owner. Is there any wonder the process is lengthy?
A thought has just struck me. When using my white cane I tap into objects (and hopefully more often than not avoid bumping into them), which are my location points and which help to identify where I am. The guide dog will avoid me making contact with those location points therefore I would not know where I was. No doubt I am not the first one to think this out and, in any event, if it ever does come it is a long way from that.
I attended many Christmas and New Year parties and also hosted one. As it is the Scottish custom there was much "first footing" amongst the neighbours.
I had many occasions to be grateful to my family and friends for their warm help and consideration. It leaves me humbled - I am aware that my remaining senses are getting more acute and I recognise that some people, thankfully only a few, knowing that I am blind still expect me to see. For instance, someone silently appearing in front of me with a hand held out expecting me to take the initiative of shaking their hand and wishing them a happy New Year but still not aware that I cannot respond. These kind people are seemingly oblivious of the fact that I cannot see and cannot now be proactive – regrettably, and I cannot make the first move. Sometimes I feel I may unwittingly snub some people.
December brought me much pleasure in receiving and sending e-mails with old friends around the world. For instance, I was delighted to hear from Stan and Ellie Bump. Stanley, who when I first met him was Stanley Bump - Commodore of United States Nuclear Submarine Base in the Holy Loch. They are a wonderful couple and left behind many memories which are a pleasure to recall. We can look back with fond memories of many great times with them and many others from the States.
By the way before I finish, I would like to let the growing number of my readers and listeners, be informed about the latest updates and improvements about to be marketed with respect to voice-activated systems. I hope to be in a position to know more next month.
posted @ 16:22:42 1st January 2007 - It Is Over, Let It Go