KABVI logo - click here to return to home page

By Darlene Howe

In October of 2004, Joanne Hackerott drove me to Lawrence, Kansas, to participate in a meeting of the State Talking Books Library Board, on which I serve. After an interesting and productive meeting, we traveled to Topeka to spend the night and visit friends.

First, we saw Jean Lindsay, who is 99 years old and lives in a nursing home. I knew Jean when she was an itinerant teacher in the Garden City/Dodge City area. She and I attended a braille class taught by Zola and Walt Thomas. Jean was an active, wonderful person. When I think of her age, and all she is able to do yet, I marvel. She keeps in contact with a number of the students she taught years ago. She traveled to Kentucky to visit her daughter. They come to visit friends and relatives here.

Next, we visited Lucille Parli, who lives in an assisted living facility. Wouldn’t you know! When we got there, Lucille was packing to go to Phoenix, Arizona, to visit her son. Jean and Lucille proved to me that it doesn’t make any difference how old you are. You don’t have to just sit in a room and while the hours away.

Then we visited Bonnie Byington in the nursing home. I happened to mention that I had typed some letters, and my cousin who received them had called and told me my typewriter wasn’t working. I didn’t know there was a lever on the manual (probably considered antique now) typewriter I had used. The lever had apparently been moved and the ribbon was therefore not where it should have been. Bonnie said, “Well, when I used to type, what I did was put a carbon between two sheets of paper and, if you didn’t type on the top one, you sure would on the bottom one.” I said, “Oh, Bonnie! If I had just come to Topeka sooner, I’d have known what to do.” Goes to show you you’re not too old to learn.

The next day we visited Walt and Genevieve Schreiner. Walt was recuperating from a hip surgery. During lunch, I told them about the light sensor that tells me when the lights are off or on and what it had cost. Genevieve asked, “You know what I used for a light sensor? When we had company, it became a conversation piece.” “What was that?” I asked. She said, “One of those cups that play music. If you go into a room where a light is off, it won’t sing. But, if the light’s on, it would sing. I ruined mine by forgetting and putting it in the microwave, so I don’t have a singin’ cup any more.” I said, “Oh, Genevieve! I have six of those cups in my china hutch at home. People ask, when we turn on the light and sit down to eat in the dining room, “What is that?” I say, “That’s those singin’ cups up there in the china hutch.” If I’d just come to Topeka a little sooner, I wouldn’t have spent the money to buy a light sensor. Also goes to show you that I’m not very smart. If I’d used what little brain I have, I’d have realized the singin’ cups would have worked for me.

When the Schreiner boys were very small, I visited their home with Faye and Otto Peterson. The boys wanted cereal, so they used the drawers as steps to climb up to get it. These were two people who can’t see at all who had two sighted boys. This helped me realize that I would be able to raise my own four kids with a sighted husband.

Our next stop was to visit Georgia Layton in her senior apartment. My heart went out to Georgia because she had lost her guide dog. She was still independent. We enjoyed a cup of coffee with her.

On the way home we stopped to see Charlotte and Bob Corties, who live in a senior high-rise. Charlotte was KABVI’s membership secretary for a long time. Maril and I visited them when they lived on the farm and when I was taking over the duties of the membership secretary. Now Charlotte doesn’t see well at all. Who would have guessed that she, a sighted lady who brought a friend to conventions and acted as membership secretary, would now be one of KABVI’s members with low vision due to macular degeneration?

I’ve known all the folks I’ve talked about since 1963 except Jean Lindsay. I met them when I attended conventions of KABVI. I think of all of the hard work they did for so many years to make KABVI what it is today. Each one of them has been an inspiration to me. They’ve been models in every way. No matter how incapacitated they might be, they are still knowledgeable. They have given me the inspiration to know that there isn’t anything I can’t do.

It’s said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” They’re not able to participate as they did over the years; but they’re still full of knowledge, and they never give up. Their lives, the way they live, and their words of encouragement are what will go with me for the rest of my life. I thank God that He allowed each one of them to come into my life.

I have met many others through KABVI – young and old – who will always hold a special place in my heart. This trip with a good friend, to visit other special friends, brought with it many fond memories. I want to share with others the inspiration and encouragement they gave to me.

{ About } { Contact } { News } { Events Calendar } { Resources } { Your Rights } { ACB }