By Alex Wayne
Pull Quote: “Our lives are very fulfilling…Its not dark and gloomy as some people seem to think. We live just like normal couples and enjoy just as much as the same excitement. We have learnt to come to grips with our lack of sight and have found other means of surviving like normal people…” (Blind Couple)
When I received word of a blind couple living as though all was well and normal, I was mystified by it all… Come to think of it, I could not quite fathom how a blind couple could live normal lives, especially after I was informed that their exclamations of happiness and fulfillment were quite audible to the neighbours, every day.
There was only one way to find out and that was by seeking out this couple that resides at 339 ‘PP’, Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown.
And it was quite easy to find Brenda Nurse, 54, and her reputed husband Afred Rogers, 58, since the entire community seemed to be abuzz with the news of the couple who has defied all odds, to have as fulfilling lives as those who are still lucky to have their precious sight.
I was brought up short by a rather large sign on the gate that screamed, “ Beware of Very Bad Dogs”, so I gingerly walked up to the gate and started calling, but not too loud to alert the dogs just in case they were not chained. A gentleman passing on a bicycle stopped and called, summoning the couple by another name I cannot quite remember. Quite soon, a smiling Brenda Nurse appeared at the door. She did not appear to be visually impaired.
That was until she began to navigate her way around her verandah, giving me instructions on how to open the gate.
I had walked with a colleague, whom I did not introduce, and, after identify myself, sat in a chair she offered.
But then she blurted out, “there is someone else here, did you bring someone else with you, or did someone walk into my yard after you. Did you close the gate after you came in?”
I was mystified, and I kept wondering how in heaven’s name she could know I was not alone. On enquiring, Ms. Nurse smiled and indicated that she had learnt to rely on her sense of hearing and smell to locate things, move around, and single out correctly persons with whom she was familiar.
Her partner, Alfred Rogers, sat nearby, and soon we were all deep into conversation like old chums, and she smiles as I commended her on how just well she kept her home and surroundings.
I began my interview, and her bubbly demeanor surfaced, as she responded enthusiastically.
She gave me a stirring tale of how she met her reputed husband, Alfred, and how they managed to create and sustain their affection.
“In 2010 I was visiting a dentist in the city to have an extraction done, and I was there in the company of a very close overseas friend, Mr. Telford King, who indicated that he has a really nice male friend who is blind and looking for a charming woman just like me. At first I laughed it off, but he was persistent, so I finally decided for him to set up what I was amusingly referring to then as a ‘real blind date’.
I was forty nine years of age around that time, and had gone totally blind because of glaucoma just the year before I met my Alfred. He too had gone blind because of the same condition in 2005, and his life was just miserable after then.
“Well, it can’t be love on first sight, l think it was love on the first encounter…Alfred blew me away with his cumbersome efforts as he tried to fix a chair for me to sit down and did all he could to make me comfortable. The husky tone of his voice seemed to wrap me up in a cocoon of comfort, and my every instinct was telling me, this was indeed my Prince Charming. I was single at that time and longing for a companion, quite naturally, and I felt in my heart, that as two blind people, we will certainly understand each other better.
“He was very tender with me on every date, and this man was so kind and charming, he just made my world complete. He brought me fresh flowers his friends would get him, and quite soon, I learnt to tell of what flower he brought me by its fragrance. This man was so nice, that at times, I felt as if it was all a dream from which I would suddenly awake reluctantly. But my Edward was real as can be and did everything to make me happy. He gave me a new lease on life and I did my best to help him as well.
“Alfred was still bit timid and did not like to venture far off without the supervision of someone. But I taught him to be confident, and dared him to take his cane and walk around. He loved me so much…I could sense that he was scared but he did it all to please me. “After a time he was walking around quite comfortably, going to the shop for me and all that.
“It was not long before we were living together, and that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. We cannot see each other with the eyes, but something allows us the mysteriously pleasure of being able to ‘see’ each other from a different horizon. Alfred acquainted himself with me by tracing my features tenderly with his finger tips, and I of course returned the favour. I learnt to love every part of him, especially his lips when he smiles. I can’t explain how, but I know when he is sensing me with deep love and affection, even from across the room. Somehow it seems as if God has allowed us to develop a strange sixth sense that makes us just as normal as any other human being…”
As the interview continued, Alfred did not say too much, but his very peppy partner spoke on, pretty much elated to be able to tell her stirring tale of love, commitment, and defying the odds to be normal.
She informed that they have been living together for almost nine years, noting life could not have been better. She said she had to teach Alfred in many ways how to adapt to his blindness by first exercising acceptance, practicing self indulgence, and being ready to face challenges and learning to overcome them.
“It was a lot of work to get my dear Alfred to come to grips with his condition. Blind persons first has to accept their situation, embrace it, and each day come up with strategies as to how we are going make our lives, if not exactly normal, at least fulfilling. I did this in the early years of my blindness, and soon I was moving around on my own, doing laundry and cooking. I can perform tasks like any normal housewife, and I still can dance quite well, once I am provided with enough space.
Cooking was a very hard task for me at the beginning, and of course I burnt my fingers several times, but today I am an expert, and I am able to cook Alfred all his favourite dishes”
Alfred on the other hand did not hesitate to inform that he depends greatly on Brenda for support, and almost everything else.
“Since I met this woman, my life has taken on a whole new meaning. She taught me how to be real again, how to turn misfortunes in life into positive learning experiences. She always reminds me to use my disappointment as stepping stones to perfection. Because of her I sometimes forgot that I am blind. Life is just perfect with Brenda at my side. We still face a few minor challenges, and sometimes I get frustrated. But she reminds me to stay strong, and to be thankful to God that we still have life.
“Brenda has been a great tower of strength, and through her efforts we now live almost normal lives. Some times when we move around, we could hear people loudly doubting that we are blind, often implying that one of us actually has our sight. It’s just really amazing…
“We visit Brewster’s like any normal couple to enjoy ice-cream in the evenings, and we sometimes visit the Demico House Outlet at Stabroek Market to grab chicken and chips and spend time relaxing there. Sometimes we take long bus rides to Timehri and back, and the drivers know us well so they are always kind to us. Sometimes we travel to Berbice, and when we can afford it, we would take a taxi and just drive around to the National Park and other areas in the city.
“My most exciting moment is when we do our weekend picnics in the Botanical Gardens. Brenda would cook up a storm and we would get a well known taxi driver to drop us to our favourite spot where we would spread out our blanket, pop a bottle of wine if we have one and have a grand time. One can be blind, but that does not mean our lives have ended. I don’t know about anyone else. Life is good with my Brenda at my side”
Brenda is also a very talented poet, and amazed me with a demonstration of how good she is at using her very modern touch screen cellular phone.
Meeting this couple has taught me that mishaps in life should never deter us from having fulfilling lives.
Brenda and Alfred taught me the importance also of coming up with a ‘counter plan’, should we be victims of life’s many misfortunes.
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