It was very hot and humid here last week and I was glad to be in Ajax spending a couple of days with my sister Maura who is blind (When You Cannot See). Ajax is a small town just east of Toronto on Lake Ontario. The area along the lake has been designated a green belt and it is very pleasant to walk on the path along the lake shore watching the ducks and seagulls. Even on the hottest days, there is a slight breeze and you feel as if you are in the country.
One of the tasks I had set myself was to help Maura with her wardrobe. Since she can’t see, it is extremely difficult for her to review whether or not her clothes fit her well and to decide what looks shabby and needs to be discarded. We spent a few hours doing this. A slow process as she had to try everything on, I had to describe what the clothes looked like and we then had to discuss whether to keep or discard. The next day, we went shopping for summer clothes. Her guide dog which she got in April, is still not used to the ropes so this was a new experience for him. He behaved admirably, staying by her side amongst other shoppers in the Mall and sitting quietly and patiently in the changing room. The sales assistant in the Bay department store was incredibly helpful, bringing us various outfits to try on. Happily, we managed to pick up a few things and my sister came home with a new summer wardrobe. By the time we got home, I had already forgotten some of what we bought but imagine being blind and having to remember not only everything you bought but someone else’s description of what that was. Not being able to see, its very difficult for Maura to mix and match her clothes. She used to get little metal braille tags for the colours which could be sewed on but these are no longer easily available. Her son Mike had given her an electronic audio colour reader but it broke down so she has to memorize the placement of everything in her wardrobe. Not an easy task! I wish I could think of some way to make it easier for her and if any of my readers have any ideas, please tell me.
We all care about how we look, albeit some more than others. Not only that, but people often form impressions of us based on physical appearance. So we dress in a particular way depending on the situation, and what impression of ourselves we are trying to convey. I can’t imagine what it must be like not knowing how you look and having to depend on someone else to choose your clothes for you. Then you have to remember exactly where everything is in order to get dressed or associate details like cuffs or buttons with certain pieces of clothing. That in itself is a challenging task and then there are shoes, bags, jewellery, hairstyle and make-up to think about. I came home appreciating what a gift it is to be able to gaze in a mirror and actually see how you look.