Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith
AN UNEXPECTED SIGHT
Standing back, I gave my apartment a final walk-through. With my toe, I straightened a small throw carpet between the living room and kitchen. A stray dish towel cluttered the counter. That needed to go in the wash. The cupboard door under my sink hung askew. I scrounged in a drawer for a screwdriver to tighten it.
In the living room, I smoothed the bare cushion of my loveseat. The throw covering never came off unless it was washday or company visited because it also served as a bed for my dog, Buddy. At least the cushions didn’t appear to have any dog hair.
“Okay, this is as good as it’s going to look. I’m ready for Bob.”
If only I had something other than water to offer. “I should’ve made some cake or cookies,” I muttered.
But this was not a social call. It was my first meeting with Bob, my orientation and mobility specialist.
Nearly 7:00. He’ll be here any minute. I listened for my doorbell, but heard a shout from the stairs instead. “You have someone here to see you,” Mom called. Her voice sounded funny.
Drat! I forgot to tell Bob to come around back to my place. He must have come to the front of the house.
“On my way, Mom.”
There, just inside our front door, stood Bob.
As I came toward him, I noticed two things in quick succession. In his right hand he held a long red and white cane. Then, when he looked toward me, I saw his eyes focused somewhere over my shoulder.
Bob was blind.
My mobility specialist was blind?
Oh no. Mom had said, ‘You have someone here to see you.’ I hope that didn’t offend him.
I observed him more closely. He was a giant of a man. He wore a Captain’s cap just like Dad always did. Dark brown, slightly unkempt hair peeked out from underneath.
“Bob Braniff,” he said, extending his hand in my general direction. He had a firm handshake.
“Hi, I’m Amy,” I said automatically.
I didn’t know what to say next. What do you do when a blind person comes into your house? How would we get up to my place? I eyed his cane. Could he tap his way through our house? What would I have to do? Would I just give him instructions? I couldn’t just sit him down in my mother’s living room with the television blaring. My mother’s hearing was worse than mine. My mind raced, trying to think of what to do next. He continued to wait patiently at the front door.
In a panic to fill the silence, I said the first question that popped into my head. “Bob, how did you get here?”
“My driver. He’s in the car.”
“Oh. Should I invite him in?”
“Not necessary. He’s perfectly fine where he is.”
Why didn’t Bob tell me he was blind?
“Sorry, I have my own place. Right now, we’re in my mother’s living room. Um, if you go straight ahead….” Can I say straight ahead to a blind person? How will he know where that is? Bob extended his cane. “You’ll find some stairs we need to climb.” Should I tell him how many? Would that insult him? I didn’t want him to fall. That would be terrible if he broke a leg in our house.
I needn’t have worried. Bob had no difficulty following me.
He banged the cane against each step as he climbed. Oh dear. Mom was particular about her house. My dad built those steps.
“Then, uh, there will be a small hallway. After a few steps, we’ll turn … left … that’s my bedroom. From there, we’ll go straight through to my kitchen.”
I seemed to be guiding him okay. I didn’t want him to trip on anything. Thank God, I’d cleaned my place up.
“Okay, we’re in my kitchen. Make sure you turn … ah, right, because if you turn left, you’ll fall down some stairs. We don’t want that.” I hope he didn’t think I was making a bad joke at his expense.
“We certainly don’t.” His voice boomed in my small apartment.
I spied the throw rug between the kitchen and living room and had visions of Bob’s cane getting tangled in the cloth, which would trip him. “’Scuse me, Bob,” I said, scooting around him to snatch it up. Whew! Just in time.
“Now, you’ll find a large tan love-seat.” Why on earth did I mention the color? He can’t see the color. Rub it in, Amy. This guiding stuff sure wasn’t easy. “You can have a seat there.”
Just as he lowered himself onto the cushion, I caught a glimpse of Buddy’s tail. “Oh, uh, that’s uh, my, my….”
Oh my gosh, Bob just sat on my dog!