S1: Episode 14 - Roseanne Rodriguez

Episode Information

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 14, Roseanne Rodriguez.

Roseanne :       I would start by saying, why me? Why me? How can I be blind? I did everything I was supposed to do growing up. I was obedient to my parents. I did well in school. I never hung around with the back crowd. I didn’t go out. I didn’t drink or smoke, and yet I get paid with this. Sometimes life just takes a turn. I just started suffering from headaches. I had three doctors and no one detected anything. They said I had micro headaches and they pointed their finger on me. And in fact, I was bleeding internal. I did have a brain aneurysm at the same time I was pregnant with my first child. I had an eye surgery to cut a hole on the optical nerve to drain some of the fluid out so it could keep it from pushing my eyeballs out of my face. I went completely blind at the eight months right before my son was born. I didn’t have a chance to, to see him. Yes, I dream all the time, every night and in color. I see my son sometimes in my dreams. I can see his body. I can see his hands. Every time I try to look at his face, there’s this bright light like shining upon him, and I can’t seem to, to look through it.

Being a mother and being blind at the same time, it’s been an awesome feeling. I used to crawl on the floor just to know what he was doing. As he started getting a little bit older, I would explain to him that I couldn’t see. He had a whole lot of questions. My example to him was, the batteries of my eyes ran out. You know, like when your toys run out of batteries? That’s what mama’s eyes did. The batteries ran out. When we would go to any store, he would ask, why can’t we buy batteries from mom’s eyes so she can see my face?

I never go anywhere by myself, not to the store. I don’t take a ride in the bus across the street or even just to get our mail. That kind of fear that I fear, it’s because of the kidnapping. When I was 11 years old, I was on my way to school. I see this car, he got off the car, put his hands on my neck, pulled my hair, beat me, put me in the car, and drove. I opened up the car door without thinking, and I jumped out. I was hysterical. I couldn’t even speak. I just kept crying. All I wanted was to be in my room under the covers. So my mom took me home, never left. I finished the remaining of the school year at home. So now being blind, I should take the bus on my own. I can’t. I have that fear that I will always carry with me.

I listen to things that I couldn’t see before. You sit there, then you listen to all kinds of sounds. Some are loud, some are soft. But the best one that I like is when it’s rainy. All the things that you can see behind the rain. You can put your ear against the window, and sometimes it’s like a little constant, like glu glu glu. It’s like a song. And if you sit quietly, you can see so much. Just by listening, I go to bed and I, I always, you know, right before I opened my eyes, I say, what if today was the day that I could see? This time, I would really pay attention to all of my surroundings. I wanna see the leaves move from the tree. I wanna see the grass, the little creatures that crawl on the ground, cracks on the walls. I will look at all that, and even at nighttime, sit outside and just look at the stars up in the sky.

Things that I never noticed before definitely would notice them now. My husband does all, all the cooking, breakfast, lunch and dinner, cleaning, washing clothes. I wash the dishes from time to time. He manages to continue to work, bring the income home. I go and hug him, and I touch his arms. I pinch him sometimes, and he said, what was that for? To see if you’re real. If you’re alive, I don’t know how you do what you do. And he treats me as if I’m the only and the prettiest woman on earth. I know I’m not, but he treats me that way.

Host:                Every life is a story of great distances, says the poet Robert Pin Warren. And if we’re lucky, it’s filled with some starlight sunlight moonlight along the way. Awareness is not just about seeing with our eyes. Our other senses have their own wisdom. Separate from sight. Roseanne said, “The sound of a voice can tell you so much about a person, whether they’re smiling, sarcastic, friendly, and are they really listening to you?” She said, “Even a dog barking carries meaning. When I was cited, I was full of friends. When I became blind, my friends disappeared. Acted like blindness was a disease. I can still laugh. I can still be me. I’m still the same person I was yesterday.”


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