By Ray Campbell
As we celebrate and honor the awesome Mothers in our lives on this Mother’s Day weekend, let me tell you about the Mom of your ACB Second Vice President.
My Mom never believed in excuses. I grew up almost totally blind, with only light perception and the ability to see colors up close. My Mom would never put me in a situation where my safety was in danger, but she was bound and determined that blindness wasn’t going to hold me back.
From the day I was born, Mom did everything she could to help me be my best. I grew up on a farm in Northern Illinois, where I learned the values of hard work and accountability from Mom and Dad. Mom did her best to keep me in one piece, yet, she didn’t overprotect me either, believing I needed to experience the world in my own way. This meant she had to fix me up a few times, like the time I tried wiggling a fence post to get it out of the ground, it broke and some sharp edges cut me up pretty bad. Probably the worst thing Mom had to clean me up from was when I was in about sixth grade. We had a sledding hill near our farm which was affectionately called Dead Man’s Hill. I got onto a sled head first, and the last thing I remember hearing was mom say, “Hang on!” Next thing that happened was, a rock sticking out of the snow and my head met. It hurt, but I didn’t think a lot of it until I got home, pulled off my winter clothes to find my hair caked with blood. Mom cleaned me up, and took me to the doctor the next morning.
I said earlier, Mom did her best to let me experience the world in my own way. Well that didn’t apply to everything. We had gotten a new refrigerator, and my brother and I were playing with the refrigerator box. I was like about 6 or 7 years old. Mom came around the corner to the bottom of the stairs going up to our rooms, just in time to see my brother push me down the stairs head first in the box. Oh I hit bottom pretty hard, and my Mom’s words to my brother were, “don’t you ever do that again.” It didn’t help that I was laughing about the whole thing.
Mom made sure I always had clean, neat clothes to wear, and that I looked presentable. She encouraged me to find areas I could excel in. She supported me as I participated in public speaking contests, track and swim meets and musical performances through high school. She and my Dad even drove to Louisville, Kentucky when I was a Senior to see me compete in the Bluegrass Swim invitational tournament.
Did Mom get angry with me? I’ve lost count the number of times. But she never stayed mad and I always felt I learned something from when she got after me. I remember one time, Mom wanted me to wash the dishes. We didn’t have a dishwasher, so I had to do them in the sink. I got mad, and kicked the heck out of the stainless steel cabinets under the sink. Guess what, I didn’t get out of doing dishes, the dishes were my job for the next month.
I’m so thankful that my Mom is still around, able to share my joy over working both professionally and for ACB. In 2016, when she and my Dad learned Karyn and I had been invited to the Hawaii Association of the Blind (HAB) convention, they made arrangements to join us in Hawaii. They attended the convention hospitality social and banquet and it was cool to be able to introduce them to all my HAB friends. As I reflect on all my Mom has done for me on this Mother’s Day weekend, I am so lucky that she was in my life, to encourage me with care and love to be the best I can be.