Challenge and Pride in Walking an Ancient Path with Macular Degeneration

by Mary
(Miami, FL, USA)

Among the hundreds of memories, many difficult, of my mother managing with her old-age onset macular degeneration, my favorite may be her trooping along when I insisted that she must, at age 86 and legally blind, scale the ancient walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia, to walk the wall at sunset.

Mom had wanted me to take her on a cruise, something I was reluctant to do, but we found a charming one in the Adriatic Sea, that started in the lovely old seaside town of Dubrovnik, that had, not long before, been the site of violence in the war with Serbia.

Of all the recommended activities for this tourist destination, the highlight recommended by all was to climb up tiny ancient stone steps onto the path atop the wall that surrounds the little town, and to do so at sunset, to enjoy the drama and beauty of the sea on one side and timeworn stone houses on the other.

Mom is agile and had no trouble climbing the stairs, with a little assist to ensure her safe footing. But we had decided to take the route that happened to face into the setting sun.

For someone with macular degeneration, that is very difficult. She had her big, dark glasses, which help. But it was not easy and she wanted to give up.

I urged her on and knew she could do it, if she focused on the beauty that she might still be able to see, and on the goal that would give her a sense of accomplishment.

It wasn’t a relaxing stroll, and we had to take each step with care, with Mom often looking down to avoid the sun, but we made it.

Back at her retirement community, the story of walking the wall at sunset and enduring not only the irregular worn stones and stairs, but more important, the intense setting sunlight, became her favorite story to tell, giving her a sense of accomplishment and control that made the limitations of her Macular Degeneration a bit more bearable.

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