He Taught Me to See

by | May 13, 2014 | Direction, Light

Just after my 13th birthday and only a year after we’d arrived in the United States, my parents and I visited an ophthalmologist.

I sat in the examining chair with my face firmly on the chin rest and pupils dilated. As the doctor shone a bright light he said, “She did inherit it. You need to be prepared. There is no cure for this retinal disease.”

My father carried the Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) gene causing a deterioration of the retina which, in most cases, results in blindness. Although my brother’s retinas seemed to be fine, I’d inherited the gene.

Fifteen years after my initial diagnosis, my father began to lose his eyesight and so did I. He was 55 years old, but I was only 30. In a matter of two years, we had both lost our sight completely.

I focused on the effects of my own darkness. My world crumbled as the black curtain fell, destroying the dreams my husband and I had for us and for our three little boys. But when I turned to God for hope and strength, He responded by opening my eyes to a new revelation.

Even though my father had given me the RP gene, he’d also given me a sterling example of determination and tenacity.

We were all living in Bolivia in 1964 when he defied the family’s opposition to move to America. He and Mom worked tirelessly to satisfy the requirements imposed by the U.S. Immigration Department to enter the country and establish residency.

Once in the states, he overcame humiliation, intense loneliness, helplessness and uncertainty. He endured ridicule due to his lack of fluency in English, but he pressed on. During this time, he somehow managed to gather enough money for the basics — rent a small apartment, buy modest furniture from thrift stores and put a down payment on a car. Nine months later, he sent airline tickets for my mom, my brother and me.

Decades later, as an American citizen, I look back at what he’d shown me through his efforts. He taught me the determination to move forward when facing adversity by setting an example proving that humility is crucial to success. He demonstrated the commitment to family and the importance of setting priorities.

His journey taught me valuable lessons for my own path in the darkness. Much like a baby takes its first steps holding tight to his father’s hand, my dad held onto God as he stepped from the comfort of our hometown in Bolivia to the unknown in a foreign land.

I did the same as I stepped into the unfamiliarity of a sightless world. Holding onto God’s hand, I gained confidence and learned the language of gratitude. With profound appreciation for my father’s example, I learned how he had applied a powerful blend of faith and tenacity — the same blend I used to fulfill my own role as a wife, mom, Sunday school teacher, Spanish court interpreter, inspirational speaker and writer.

What I received from my heavenly Father was confidence to move forward as He promised to be “a lamp to my fee and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) And what I inherited from my earthly father gave me eyes to see God’s sustaining power and live with more determination, passion, and joy.

Janet Eckles jeckles@cfl.rr.com www.janetperezeckles.com


He Taught Me to See