Fine Work (Japan)
“Mother's Unforgettable Words”
Minoru Nishida, Yokohama City
Mother told me to turn loss of sight into happinessIn May 1957, fundal hemorrhage occurred in my left eye, which initiated my fight against the eye disease. Originally my condition was diagnosed as tubercular, but finally it was revealed to be an intractable disease named Behcet disease by university hospital doctors. It was also found the supportive measures were the only treatment to handle this disease. I continued working while I was in and out of the hospital. In January 1960, my vision was deteriorated so much that I couldn't almost walk alone. Despite the all-out effort of my doctor, my vision never recovered. Partly because of the instructions of my company, I changed to a university hospital in June 1960. They gave me various kinds of treatment but failed to restore my vision.
In those days, the idea started to haunt me, "I might lose my vision." But it is also true I strongly hoped I was an exception. At the university hospital, I was given a regular medical examination by a professor and my primary doctor every Monday. At every examination, I asked my doctor about the prospect of the recovery of my vision. All I received from him was the same phrase, "I don't know the answer until we try everything we could." His answer, which didn't allow me to see the future, irritated me. It was at a regular examination in October 1960 that I went to the consultation room with something to say with determination, which is if the doctor gave me the usual answer to my question, I would sit down in the room and never move. My turn came, and all the process of inspection ended. I then asked the same question to my doctor. His answer was after all the same. So I sat down in the consultation room as planned. "I won't move an inch unless you clearly tell me whether my eyes will become better or won't be any better." The nurse was all out trying to calm me down with many consolatory phrases, but I never moved a bit. My doctor just stood up silent.
I lost the track of time. I realized there were other patients waiting outside. They were not responsible for what I was. So I opened my mouth and said in one fell swoop, "I wouldn't be surprised if you tell me my eyes won't become any better. I am determined to go to the school for the blind and start a new life." The doctor eventually spoke up, "If you are so much determined about that possibility, I suggest you go to the school for the blind." I took his advice practically as the declaration of my blindness. I said, "Okay. Understood" and returned to the bed and lied down.
My mind went totally blank. I proudly said I wouldn't be surprised if my eyes were no good, but that was not what happened. I was angry about feeling so miserable myself. I couldn't' eat the hospital meals brought by nurses. I couldn't sleep well at night. All my thoughts coming up were negative. When you can't see, you can't watch TV or movie, much less people's faces and scenery. It's difficult for you to go anywhere alone. All those notions made me feel desperate and think "What is the purpose of my living? Isn't it worth my being dead rather than alive?" It was like I was in the darkest of the dark.
Then came my mother. "Getting any better?" she said. "Seems desperate," I answered. With a slight sign of disappointment, she said, "I worship gods and Buddha every day praying for the betterment of your eyes." She continued, "I don't need two eyes. If only I could give one of mine to you." I said, "The present medicine cannot do that." Her disappointment seemed to become much bigger. At that very moment, I thought it was my mother that felt more sad about my loss of sight than I. After a moment, she said, "Not everybody can experience the loss of vision. It's a valuable experience. Earn it. Do something that makes the most of it. However small it may be, it could be of some help to the society, and then it may be worth living for." Then she left, "I'll come again soon."
The phrase she said, "valuable experience," got me deep into thinking for a long time. It dawned on me that mine was a negative thinking and that hers was positive. I came to realize the more positive we think about anything, the more we will find what we can live for. That triggered my action. I visited a school for the blind and learned a lot about education and career of the visually handicapped people from a teacher who attended me then. About education, he said, "You can't even do study itself if you can't read and write Braille," pointing out the importance of learning Braille, and gave me a list of Braille characters. About career, he told me there were many blind people who are engaged in the professions of massaging, acupuncture and moxibustion.
I went to Tokyo with my mother to attempt a return to society in April 1961. I got the licenses of three professions, or massaging, acupuncture and moxibustion, and then became a teacher of a school for the blind with the help of my teachers and friends. In October 2001, I set up a non-profit organization to start donating aids for the visually impaired in foreign countries. I believe my mother, who said "Earn it," is happy about what I do now in the heaven.