S1: Episode 45 - Raul Gamez

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 Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, edited and hosted by Michael Nye. Stories are often found, resting along the edges of surprise and revelation. Every person, every place is a map to somewhere else. Episode 45, Raul Gamez.

Raul:  I really enjoy getting out and walking. It’s neat to, to get out and walk independently and do things at your own pace. It gives me a chance to think about work. I think about what I’d like to have for dinner that evening. A lot of times I think of the things that my grandfather told me. As long as you’re talking, you’re not learning a thing. When you listen, you learn all kinds of things and, and I believe that I listen all the time. You have to cuz you know, listening gives you wisdom. My name is Raul Gamez and I live at home with my mom. I lost my sight when I was two years old and I’ve been blind since that time. My grandfather was blind, my grandmother was legally blind, and I’ve got three cousins that are blind. I believe that a lot of people are afraid of the blind, and I think a lot of that is because a lot of blind people do not get out and show society that we can do things.

Well some of the most common questions people ask, do you know where you’re at? Does your cane have a laser in it that tells you what you’re gonna hit things <laugh>? I mean, um, why are you always on the street? A lot of times people will tell me to, you know, stay home, vete por tu casa, which means go home. Some people wanna get a good laugh and they’ll say, well, there’s a wall in front of you when in fact there’s none. You know, it makes me feel bad in a way, but I just let it in one ear and out the other and keep on going. I try to walk at least a mile a day every day by myself. I choose different routes. I can hear just about everything. I can hear everything from the sound of birds, the sound of just nature, dogs, the sound of a train. I can hear the leaves on the trees when the wind blows. Enjoy that. That’s a peaceful sound. Sometimes in the evenings you can hear an owl howling way off in the distance. The sounds are there and, and, and they’re beautiful.

Oftentimes when I’m out walking, I always try to use landmarks such as curbs, I feel with my cane and my feet. You know, when I walk near the grocery store, I hear baskets rolling around in the parking lots and a lot of times I walk in areas where there are a lot of tall buildings and by tapping the cane I can hear how it echoes off the building, how close I am to a building or an object if it echoes. I use, I use a sense of smell to tell what the surroundings are. People pass by me wearing perfume or cologne. It often tells me if it’s a woman or a guy I live with. Um, at home with my mom, she’s never told me that I could not do things. She’s always said, yes, you can do this. Yes you can. Anything is possible.

My mom is, my mom can be very funny. We use a code system, you know, when we’re at the store or we’re in a restaurant or I hear a woman’s voice and I wanna kind of get an idea of what she looks like. So my mom will say s which means the girl is slim G, which means the girl is gorda. She’s kind of heavyset and a lot of times I start laughing because of the way she describes things. She’s real good at can tell how old a person is or how much they weigh. As far as sight, memory of sight, I don’t really have any memory of it. I do often think that if I could ever win the power ball and win a really big amount of money, that I would take at least a million dollars and I would give a doctor $1 million just to give me my eyesight. It don’t have to be perfect. That’s what I would do. I would, I would never be disappointed if it never happened. Having a good mobility, good personality allows me to be very free, free to do what I want to do when I want to do them. Yes, it gives me a sense of freedom to feel the wind and enjoy those things.

[Outro Music]

Host:  Raul excels in so many things, his attitude, his attention to the world around him. He’s an adventurer. He walks several miles every day and chooses many different routes. He says, it gives me a chance to think about my life, how to handle situations. I find yard sales, flea markets because I enjoy meeting people. He ran his own business while living in Arkansas, fixing small engines. Today he worked for the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind as a general assembler. He says, many times when I’m out walking, people might say to me, go home, stay off the street, you’re blind. It makes me feel sad in a way, but I never let negative, inappropriate comments bother me. Raul said, wisdom simply means learning and listening, taking the things I’ve learned and putting them in into action. Join us next week. I’m Michael Nye. Thank you so much for listening.