A Tribute To My Sister
My sister, Dorrie Rose, died yesterday. She became rapidly ill with pneumonia last Friday and passed away, thankfully peacefully. It still does not seem real.
Dorrie was important for many people. She loved all her family, her Husband Roy, her children and grandchildren.
For me Dorrie was important in a special way. Although she was 13 years older than me, we had a shared inheritance of Ushers Syndrome. This meant we both experienced the predicament of deaf blindness.
Whilst we both tried to support each other there was a critical difference.
Dorrie, as the older sibling, faced these challenges first. She never had the support of an older deaf blind sibling who knew what she was going through. She had to trail blaze, finding solutions through difficult trial and error, tenacity, skill and intelligence. I was the big benefactor of all this accumulated experience.
This support all started, for me, in 1982 when I was in Hospital, ironically, also suffering from Pneumonia.
At the time I still had some eyesight. I was not even registered blind.
Dorrie visited me, crucially knowing what lay in my future. She had decided that it was time for me to get used to Talking Books. She turned up with a carrier bag full of tapes.
She explained that listening to Talking Books was not as simple as sighted people assumed. She warned me that I would fall asleep when I tried to listen. However, if I was to effectively assimilate books in the future, now, whilst lying in Hospital, was as good a time as any for me to train my brain.
As was to prove the case, countless times, over the next 36 years, she was right. I did start falling asleep and I needed to train my brain.
Dorrie has ever since provided intelligent practical advice. How does a deaf blind person find something when they drop it? Dorrie will have some strategies. How can a deaf blind person cook? – Dorrie would have some solutions. What can a deaf blind person do in a Hospital waiting room where they may not hear their name called? Simple, according to Dorrie, firmly instruct the Receptionist that you must instead be physically touch when called.
Over the years then, enormously valuable Advice and support was available to me from Dorrie on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.
Last night I recalled that Dorrie had asked me, last year, to record a Guys and Dolls performance. Dorrie loved musicals and as a sort of tribute my daughter, Amber, and my wife Sue all settled down to watch, in my case listen.
I laid on the floor. My Guide Dog Nyle then did an extraordinary thing.
He came and laid on the floor next to me, with his head on the cushion, facing me. He had his lips resting lightly on my cheek. After a few minutes He then stretched out his paw and placed it on my shoulder, as if he was trying to hug me. We laid like this for 20 minutes. It felt, for all the world, like Nyle was kissing me on the cheek.
Nyle used to love guiding me to Dories’. He cannot have known the details but he definitely felt I needed some love last night.
The loss of my big Sister will leave a massive gap.