"Because I am blind, I am no less a person than when I could see."
Margaret is 89 years old, and she suffers from macular degeneration (MD) and glaucoma. She lost the majority of her vision in 2004, the year after her husband passed away. "Having written and illustrated several books, it was quite the trauma to lose my vision," she says.
"Enjoy what we have, not what we're going to get."
Margaret learned early on to survive and thrive in hardship. She was born in 1923 among poverty-stricken families of the Great Depression, and she lost her mother at the age of seven. She developed a genuine love of school -- and a passion for learning, studying, reading, and knowledge that has sustained her throughout her life.
"I have been so happy. . ."
Margaret moved into assisted living in April 2010, to a community called Sycamore Manor. The caring and compassion she experiences there has meant a lot to her, she says. Despite her vision impairment, she's incredibly active -- she has helped organize sing-alongs, baby showers for a local nonprofit, and even a monthly friendship club. Margaret most enjoys fitness activities, including chair Zumba. "The first rhythm we know is our heartbeat," she says. "So no matter how old we are, we need to get that music and heartbeat rhythm."
"My journey out of darkness. . ."
"One of the things we learn as children is: If you have knowledge, let others light their candles around it," Margaret says. She has been part of a sight-loss support group for a while, but in 2011 she felt inspiration to do more. "I have knowledge about being blind and coping with vision loss." So she went to her yellow legal pad and started writing. At first, she focused on writing about her vision loss -- what she calls her "journey into darkness." Getting words on the page wasn't easy. Margaret is legally blind and can only see light and images.
But she didn't give up. And as she worked, her inspiration shifted. "I thought, 'What good is that?'" Her writing continued, now focused on "my journey out of darkness."
Now her book is complete and on the way to being published. It includes 100 tips to make living a low-vision life easier.
"What can I do?"
"We think, 'I'm 89, 65, 18 years old and what can I do?' We have a gift to give. Here I am one more time, and I'm so happy to share the knowledge I have."