by Dan Spoone
The word that keeps hitting us in the face is “transition.” We experience many major life moments throughout our journey. Our first day of school, our first crush, our first realization that our vision loss makes us unique, our first job, our first serious relationship, finding our lifetime soul mate, dealing with the loss of a close friend or family member, dealing with retirement and the stress of orientation with the move to a new city or neighborhood. These stresses of change can also be felt with the consistent advancement in technology and communication. These transitions are not easy, but they do present both challenges and opportunities.
Leslie and I are currently going through one of these major transitions with the aging of my 87-year-old parents. They have spent the past 15 years living in our neighborhood only three short blocks from us. We have had the pleasure of walking down to their house for a meal and conversation. We can help them out with simple chores like moving heavy furniture, organizing their garage or even finding a lost pair of glasses. I know I got some strange looks last month when I scurried through the neighborhood with plunger in hand to solve the latest crisis.
My parents have also been a wonderful help to Leslie and me. They help read our mail, drive us to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store in the rain. This month our family is going through a major transition as our parents move downtown to a retirement center and give up driving. We will now be a 20-minute Lyft ride away, and life will change for all of us.
My nephew is buying my parents’ home, so this will be an excellent opportunity for Leslie and me to grow our relationship with him. He will host the monthly family dinner at the house, and he has promised Mom that he will keep the dining room table and her china cabinets.
We share this story to say “thank you” to our many friends within ACB who have offered comfort and advice over the past few months. It gave me a chance to reflect on what I hold most dear about our community. It is the support we give each other in a time of need. We had some significant challenges this year at the Rochester convention with the absence of Rick Morin, convention sound coordinator. He was dealing with a broken ankle and managed the convention sound remotely with the contracted audio-visual (AV) help from the hotel and convention center staff. He did an outstanding job, and our sound quality was fantastic. Larry Turnbull, ACB Radio manager, soldiered through a major health event to provide live programming for our general sessions and banquet. Our ACB family was there to help fill in the gaps. We owe special thanks to Jeff Bishop, Debbie Hazelton, Jason Castonguay and Rick Morin for volunteering to manage ACB Radio in Larry’s absence.
My biggest takeaways from Rochester were emotional moments throughout the week. Betsy Grenevitch’s ACB Angel testimonial for Ann Simms and her daughter’s letter highlighting Ann’s efforts to adopt a child as a blind mother were compelling. The audio description of the Buffalo Soldiers’ presentation of the “Stars and Stripes” gave me a feeling of inclusion that left me with a tear in my eye. Thanks, Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, for your thoughtful narration. The lunch with Sajja Koirala and her husband Bill, where she shared her experience of growing up blind in Nepal and her struggle for a normal education, was enlightening. Finally, the gift from my friend Dan Dillon, sharing a CD with his personal appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I share these stories with our ACB family not because they are unique, but because they are normal within our ACB family. The soul of ACB is the relationships we have with each other. We will always advocate for civil rights, embrace the challenge of technological advancements and cheer scholarship winners and DKM future leaders, but the most important service we provide our members is each other and the support we provide as we go through the transitions in our life. We are so thankful to be part of this wonderful ACB family!