William Earl Tucker: A Cowboy Hat and an Iron Will

William, age 61, discusses his reluctance to go out in public after his macular degeneration diagnosis; in fact, it took six months before he was able to begin his orientation and mobility lessons, which culminated in an independent bus trip to visit his sister.



Transcript of Video

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NARRATOR: A man wearing a cowboy hat at a shopping mall.

EARL: For the first six months, starting from the very first day, I didn't even want to walk outside, you know. It's such a scary situation, you know. And you get to thinking about, well, if I go out, people are going to stare at me, and they're going to say, oh, there's another blind man, and, wonder what he's doing out here.

Receiving Professional Training

EARL: It took me six months to finally get bored enough at home.

NARRATOR: Earl using a cane to travel through a mall.

EARL: Once I got out there and started my mobility training, after the second time, I said, hey, this is not half bad. And I got the shock of my life, because the first time we went out, we went to the mall and as we was walking around the mall, people were actually asking me if they could help me. You know, and I said I didn't know that people could be so nice.

Being Independent

EARL: I do my own laundry, I do my own cooking, I do my own dishes. Of course, you know, I need somebody to come once a week to vacuum my floors and mop my kitchen floor, you know, and maybe take me to the store to get some groceries or go get my check cashed, but other than that, I do everything on myself. I go anywhere I want to.

The Surprise Visit

EARL: Some people still can't believe how I did it. I went from my house all the way down to the Greyhound bus station,downtown Dallas, went in, bought my ticket, and went to Brownsville on the bus to see my sister, and then turned around and came back four days later. First time she's seen me since I went blind. And, you know, she didn't really know how to react, you know. Nobody does, you know. But, uh, you know, I've gotten...gained a lot of confidence, you know, and everything, so I was able to tell her, hey, don't worry about me, you know. I can take care of myself, you know, just show me where this is and that is, and from there on, she said, I can't believe anybody can do this stuff whenever they're blind, but, she said, you seem to be doing just fine.

The Importance of Trust

EARL: Just remember, family members and friends of a blind person, remember that they've lost their trust whenever it first happens, and they've got to regain it, so you've got to be patient. Just be patient with them and help them, but don't push them to do something that they don't want to do.

NARRATOR: Earl walking with a cane.

EARL: And you that are just going blind, or been blind for a while and depressed and sitting at home, get out, try it, you'll like it.

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