S1: Episode 9 - Frances Fuentes

Portrait of Frances Fuentes

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

 Narrator:          Welcome to My Heart is Not Blind. Narrative histories about blindness and perception. A traveling exhibition and book published by Trinity University Press, supported by Gronkowski Charitable Foundation, edited and hosted by Michael Nye. Every person. Every place is a map to somewhere else. Episode nine Francis Quintus. 

Francis :           My name is Francis Fuentes and I work at San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind. And I’m very happy there. And I was trying to do my best. I’ve been working there seven years. I’m a sewing machine operator. I sew elastics for the marine chin straps and also for the army. When I was in my very early twenties, I became pregnant and I had my baby, a boy. And, uh, I was not married at the time. I didn’t have such good luck with men. I struggle. He was taking too much advantage of me. So I had to learn. I had to survive with my child, how to do for him and do for myself.

Well, it, it was just, uh, a night I was reading the newspaper and then I started seeing the letters like kind of green or like, if they were moving. So from there I started getting like real, real sharp pains and my eyeballs. And that made me even worser than worse, you know, to be worried about. So I just started going blind, minute by minute, second by second. And they said that it was rare. And then, you know, the cost of the cure. And that’s how I stayed completely blind in the darkness. When I first became blind, no, I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t believe I was not able to see my child was 11 months old. I used to cry my eyes out. It was so hard for me to be in the darkness. Since I lost my sight and I had my baby, they wanted to take my child away from me.

They said, Well, you can’t see if he cuts his hand, he’s choking or if anything happens to him you cannot see. So I had to fight for him. Being blind it’s not an obstacle because my heart, it’s not blind. I know it was water coming outta my eyes, but I could feel like if he was real blood because I love him so dearly.

And he was my main reason to leave after being blind. There was times that he would fall asleep on the floor. And when I was looking for him, I make sure I walk slowly. So in case I would bump into him, I wouldn’t fall on top of him. Wherever I would hear his breathings. So I knew he was right there. So I learned how to do all the things in my house, like sweeping, mopping, cooking, cutting, sewing, and uh, how to take care of my son.

Being a good mother in the darkness is teaching him all the good safeties. Playing around with him, like try to find little animals inside his hair. Like I tell him, Oh look, oh, I think I’m feeling a giraffe in here. And I’ll bring it out and then I’d make him feel happy and make him feel that I’m there for him. Well, it just like Superman, he could just look through the wall and he could see what’s going on on the other side. And that’s the way I feel sometimes <laugh>, because I could be sitting here and something’s going on on the other side of the wall. All I have to do is just pay close attention. Then I could tell what’s going on. And that’s like a certain privilege from the darkness.

When I was sighted, I could see the world. And now that I’m completely blind now, I just feel it, smell it, taste it. And it just like stepping from one dimension to another. It just like me being bilingual, I could either speak to someone Spanish and speak to someone in English. Blindness is just like a, a different language. I know both sides dark and light. This little baby, as soon as he started walking, he knew I, I was blind because when he would see me trying to find my way, he’ll go right here, Mommy me right here. He’ll bang on the chair like where he saw me, I was aiming to right here. Mommy me, right here.

He wouldn’t stop until he’ll see me right there. So anytime he had any fears since he was a baby, he always come to me. And he knew I was like the incredible Hulk. I told my son that I was his superhero and, and that I was gonna defend him from anything. Oh being blind doesn’t make me different from no one. No, it just me, me and me all the time. If you feel my hand, I can feel you. And if I was sighted and you feel my hand, I could still feel you. So I’m, I’m alive, I’m alive. It’s nobody’s fault that I’m blind. Is nothing ugly. It just happened to be. And there’s no time and no space for sadness or enemies in my heart or in my life.

[Outro Music]

Host:               This is Michael Nye, and you have been listening to a podcast of narrative histories. Francis worked at the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind as a sewing machine operator. She sewed elastics, chin straps for the military. She said, “I know how it feels to be sighted and I know how it feels to be blind. It’s just like stepping from one dimension to another. It’s like being bilingual. Blindness is a different language. I know both sides, dark and light.” The title to this podcast and book came out of Francis interview. My Heart is Not Blind. Francis died a few months after we spoke.

Join me next week. Two new episodes will be released. Please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast. You can also go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for transcripts and other information. There are so many ways. Different ways to experience moments to their fullest. Thank you for listening.