‘If you are open to moving forward, life opens up for you.’
“When I first started losing my vision, I had been a professor of English literature at LIU Post for over 50 years, directed the Poetry Center and Honors College on the campus, and ran a publication called the New Feral Press with my now-late husband, John.
“At first, the symptoms of my failing eyesight were minor; I found that I could no longer decipher handwritten papers, and I had such difficulty reading point-12 type that I had to ask my students to submit their papers in 16-point fonts. When I could no longer see the text in books clearly enough to read aloud during class, I knew it was time to retire. I was diagnosed with a condition called dry macular degeneration.
“It was difficult to give up driving, but it was even harder to give up reading after a lifetime of teaching English. Luckily, in this day and age there are many auditory options for listening to books, such as podcasts and narrations, so I don’t miss out on enjoying well-written literature even though I can no longer read even enlarged text.
Even though I don’t see as well as I used to, I still find ways to form connections with people and animals.
“Macular degeneration causes things that should be straight to look wavy, and it can also cause black spots to form in parts of my vision. I do not let this disease stop me from enjoying my life, though. I just turned 80 and have a loving boyfriend who reads to me, drives for me and travels the world with me.
“Several years before I started losing my vision, I embraced the artform of ceramic sculpture, and I have since crafted hundreds of figures, many of which are based on famous characters from literary tales. I can no longer see details, so my boyfriend helps by adding the finishing touches to the pieces I am currently making.
“I still love animals. I feed stray cats, visit the equestrian center at LIU and adore camels. I can still walk, cook, dotai chi, write poetry and make things. I can appreciate what’s around me and take it all in. Even though I don’t see as well as I used to, I still find ways to form connections with people and animals. If you are open to moving forward, life opens up for you.”