Josefina Irina Miller: Discovering New Talents

Josefina, age 76, talks about her life with retinitis pigmentosa, including finding and joining a support group, which she describes as a turning point in her life. She also discusses her new-found passion and talent for painting and her love of travel.



Transcript of Video

NARRATOR: Gray-haired woman in easy chair.

JOSEFINA: What I thought was that I had nothing to look forward to. My children were gone. They were grown and married. My, my... I had lost my husband. I was living alone. I was told that I shouldn't drive.

Turning it Around

JOSEFINA: I, um... eventually joined a support group, which was really the turning point in my life.

NARRATOR: Josefina sits with a group at a table.

JOSEFINA: I was able to meet other people with similar problems, and to also get information from them, and I found resources available through them. I have had wonderful experiences. I have met... made many friends. I have, uh... learned that there are good people out there that are willing to help others.

Uncovering a Hidden Talent

NARRATOR: Josefina holds a painting of a girl in a red dress.

JOSEFINA: I love art, and I love, uh... beautiful things, but I had never painted in my life. I had never taken a brush in my life. So when we started this class, our instructor, who had macular degeneration, developed a certain way to help us start a painting and then continue with it. I can't draw a whole big picture. I have to do it sections at a time because I only have... I have to focus into that one little area. So I go from one little area to the next. I cannot believe that I accomplished anything like this, because, first of all, I have never had art before, and secondly, I have partial vision. And to see something like this that I have created, I feel like I have really accomplished a lot.

Educating Others

NARRATOR: Josefina points to her pin, that says "I have low vision."

JOSEFINA: With this pin, sometimes they ask, what is low vision? What is it that you have? Why do you wear this pin? And so I explain it to them. Most of the time, believe it or not, when you start talking to one person about having a visual impairment, they'll always come up with, I have an uncle, or my grandfather was blind, or my uncle is blind, but he doesn't want to go anywhere. He just wants to stay home--he's afraid. So then I can start giving information as to how to convince that... that person to seek help.

The World Traveler

NARRATOR: Pictures of Josefina at various European locations.

JOSEFINA: I've gone to France. I've gone to Lourdes. I've gone to Spain several times. And it's just been wonderful. Then five years ago, I went to Italy for the first time in my life, and I don't know why I had never been there before, because it's the most beautiful country. I don't know when I'll ever--if I'll ever see it again, because this is a progressive disease. And I want to see as much as I can. I want to learn as much as I can.

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