By Miles Patrick Yonke
Copyright © 2017 All Rights reserved
Released October 11, 2017
Insight From Unexpected Places
I have to admit that the first time I saw her, I felt sorry for her. It was the summer of '92. By her walk, you could tell she was a proud lady.
Her posture was like something found on the catwalks of a Milan fashion show. She was well-poised and sophistically dressed with coifed hair. She moved with a breezy pace along the streets of my recently moved to area of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
This nearly retired, petite lady was legally blind.
There she was with her companion of travel. For years it was a black lab guide dog, her partner for sight and navigation, then with a gold lab walking effortlessly along in the district known as Broadway.
Broadway is one of the original areas built in Saskatoon. Broadway Avenue houses many locally owned, independent stores and shops. The Broadway district, in which I still live, is like its own city within a city.
I would see her from afar over the course of more than two decades.
She moved so speedily that the moment to meet, let alone talk, never really presented itself.
But in the summer of '17 though, it did.
In the spring of that same year I had seen her walking with another lady near my Mother's complex, in an area of Saskatoon that was built in the 60's and 70's. The neighbourhood of Eastview. The lady with her was teaching her how to use a walking cane.
She had moved, I thought. She had no guide dog accompanying her and for the first time she appeared disabled.
Then in the summer of '17, as I cycled with my Banjo Brothers backpack, full of dry good groceries for my Mother, I saw her. She was by herself and struggling along; she lacked her normal voyage of grace.
I dropped off the groceries at my Mom's place and told her that I needed to go see if this blind lady needed any assistance.
I returned to the street and found her on the corner.
"Hi, I'm Miles" I said.
"Oh, hello, I'm Doris," she replied.
"Can I be of any assistance to you?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm just waiting for a friend and I thought this corner would be a good place to wait."
I now had the great pleasure to tell Doris all that her life had meant to mine.
I told her that I lived in the Broadway area and was just in the Eastview area to visit my Mom. I told her that her example of life had helped strengthen mine.
She appeared to be touched by my thankfulness and gratitude for her great example of strength and courage. She was bursting to talk, to tell me her life's story. Well, more so the Reader's Digest version.
Doris started her story to me in the year of 1951.
"I was working at St. Paul's hospital, in their canteen. I soon found out that this wasn't something that I wanted to do for my whole life. I then moved to the province of Ontario, to study and help people like me. I worked in two cities in Ontario until '86, when I moved to Regina, Saskatchewan (the capital of Saskatchewan)."
It was there that she guided me through her pathway of darkness and brought me into her surprisingly personally lighted world.
She said that Regina is built on a certain type of clay, different from other cities that she had lived in, including Saskatoon.
Doris said, if she stepped the wrong way, got off of the concrete or asphalt and landed on this clay, often it was hard to get off of the soles of her shoes. That she would spend much of her evenings cleaning her soles and the paws of her dog so they could be ready for the next walk.
She had many guide dogs throughout her life. She said the service life of each one was ten years and then you had to return it. It was then adopted or given as a pet to enjoy the rest of its life in a dog's retirement, if you will.
Doris was now 82. She had recently sold her condo. She told me that her life had been a rewarding one; one of assisting many others along their way. That they lived in the dark striving to serve the light.
She was still well-poised and smartly dressed some twenty-five years later after I saw her for that first time.
"It was time to give up my gold lab. I didn't think I had another ten years left in me. It was time to make some tough decisions, like selling my home. I'm here now, but I really miss the Broadway district. It runs in straight lines. Wonderful for a blind person. So often newer areas of cities, including Eastview aren't built this way. They bend, have curves, and far too often I end up looking like Evel Knievel's landing at Caesar's Palace.
I also miss the personalized service of the independent merchants of Broadway. Malls, like those that are found out here, you don't really know if you are actually in a store or in the mall."
That day, Doris Merkosky brought me the gift of a different type of sight. Insight. Into what it was like to be living blind.
I remember the spring of 1976. I was 12 years old and playing goalie for our hockey team. The last two games of that season we played the School of the Deaf.
In our first game, early on, one of their players came down the ice and his team-mate on the right wing was just offside. The referee blew his whistle. Our defenseman let up on the play - giving this player coming in a clear shot on me. I let up on the play too and didn't save his shot. The puck went in our net.
This young deaf boy raised his hands in self-made victory. I could see his eyes fill with joy by his accomplishment -- only to turn -- look at the referee, and then see his eyes turn to great sadness. His accomplishment taken away.
To this day I still picture his eyes, his face and the contrast of emotions.
Merit can be found and developed in everyone.
Whether you have sight or whether you can hear, our goals are all the same.
By contributing to help enhance and add value to other peoples' lives you can, if you choose, lead a life of great purpose and legacy.
You can peacefully walk upon this earth and leave an everlasting footprint in mankind's soil.
If you sign as a way of communication, be kind. If you have sight, you don't always have to be right. Everyone benefits from being able to communicate.
Learn to articulate your mind for the individual peace and mental health of yourself and your planet.
See and hear each day as a new one. A new beginning. With new hopes and a heart that feels the peace that the clouds shower upon you and beautiful rays of sunshine, to light the path to knowledge.
The birds say it so beautifully; so much so that if you are really listening, you will run out of words to say.
Treasure all the beauty that you see and hear.
Treasure being able to see and hear your family and friends.
Treasure being able to communicate with them.
Treasure everything before you.
Soul to soul and sole to sole our shadows walk. Our souls bloom like flowers. We must treasure all of these precious hours.
We must learn to live. We must learn to forgive.
Copyright © 2017 Miles Patrick Yohnke - All Rights Reserved.
Sean Francis and Miles Patrick Yohnke photograph by Jenn Diehl for Scarlet Rain Photography. To learn more about Jenn Diehl, and to contact her, please click here: http://www.scarletrainphotography.ca
Miles Patrick Yohnke is a globally recognized motivational author, poet, and mentor with a wealth of life experience. His philosophies and materials are used in schools in Africa, India, and the United States. They are used by preachers in their pulpits. They have been read on National radio and featured in countless publications.
If you are looking to develop and improve your life, Yohnke offers consulting in person, by phone or via email.
For more info, please contact Miles directly at: 306.227.6379
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