Supporting Group - Fine Work (Japan)
“Age 69, My Father is a First-year Student at a Blind School”
Saga Prefecture  Masako Yamada (67)

I noticed that my husband was unable to see while driving. 
My husband was driving with grandchildren in the car. When the car entered a tunnel, he panicked saying, “Can’t see! I cannot see anything!” We could not switch drivers in the tunnel and I navigated him with words to exit the tunnel. I could not feel at ease until we left the tunnel and switched drivers.
When we visited an ophthalmologist, the doctor told us that the visual field had missing spots, which would not be recovered. The doctor told us that my husband would gradually lose the eyesight. I did not expect that it would happen day by day like falling down stairs.
What should we do? What do we have to do?
My husband just reached a retirement age. He was ready to do things he wanted to do and do something good for the local community.
Friends recommended a good ophthalmologist, and I was driving my husband to the hospital in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto. We sometimes used the Kumagawa train instead of driving. My husband also had some eyesight. That was a small trip for us when we could rarely go out.
When we described the episode at the tunnel to the doctor, he told us, “A color television becomes black and white. The screen then becomes sandstorm. In the end, one straight line appears, and suddenly everything becomes black. You are going to lose your eyesight like this.”
We were shocked and lost words. We felt for each other and did not speak in the car on the way back.
“I cannot stay shocked.” I had to calmly accept that my husband would be losing eyesight. I could not remain panicked. I do not accept a defeat! I am determined to keep living with my husband as a team. My husband was discouraged, but I took him to places where people gather so that he would not stay inside home. We went to Yumesaga College for the same reason. With the help and understanding of classmates, we experienced lectures, hiking, and consolation visit and accumulated valuable memories.

We switched the ophthalmologist at Koseikan Hospital in Saga and met a good doctor. The doctor gave us a pamphlet of a blind school and told us to visit there for consultation. We immediately went there and met Ms. Fukuda and Ms. Iriki, the teachers of the blind school. I felt my anxiety gradually disappeared as I talked with them about our worries and about our future.
Then we started learning braille. Ms. Minami, the walking instructor, taught us to walk with a white cane starting from our house. They taught us braille from May to March. The teachers recommended taking an admission test for the expertise course of the blind school in January. My husband liked the idea and took the test.

The school entrance ceremony of the blind school was on April 8, 2016. My husband is age 69. He became a freshman of the expertise course of the blind school. It is the beginning of a completely new stage of our life that differs from before. Cute first-graders of the elementary school who are like our grandchildren are also in the entrance ceremony. Energetic and cheerful children of the elementary school and junior high school programs cheer us up. The class started on the second day of the school. My husband learned unfamiliar technical terms, acupuncture, moxibustion, and massage. He woke up at 5:30 in the morning and studied until breakfast. He left house at 7:25. He takes buses to the school. He often went to bed after midnight. The bases of the thumbs caused inflammation in the massage class. I was just watching but felt bad for him.

A cultural festival was held on October 2. My husband was in the music club and assigned to the E and G sounds of a handbell. Instructors taught members after school, and my husband practiced at home as well every day. I went to see the performance in the festival. First graders presented what they wanted to do and things they achieved in a play. Children gave great presentations with the pianos, drums, songs, and plays. My husband played the handbell well with children. I was moved by the children who played so well like they had no visual impairment and teachers who taught the children. The cultural festival ended with great songs and dance performance by the teachers.
I also observed the open class. My husband was focused on the class. I felt relieved and also moved to see him in the class.

My husband calmly accepted his cruel fate that hit him in the late stage of his life and worked very hard. He successfully received the first-year completion certificate. He could not do it but for the support of teachers and people around us.
It will be a tough and rough road ahead of us, but I am determined to support my husband and keep walking together.
We will make it together, my dear.


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