Angels on My Doorstep

Angels on My Doorstep

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make a Difference

Angels on My Doorstep

The best solution for little problems is to help people with big problems.

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Today, I watch the fluffy flakes of snow drift lazily to the ground, adding to the whiteness that ushers in the beginning of winter. The waters of Torch Lake, still fluid and unfrozen, are a brilliant blue. I look out my window and drink in the beauty. It was this view and the beauty of the region that was instrumental in our decision to build our retirement home here. But I do not know if I shall see the lake freeze over or watch the blossoms of spring burst forth. I have been diagnosed with the “wet” form of macular degeneration, a disease that is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of fifty.

My life is already changing. Grocery shopping is becoming more difficult because labels are harder to read. My steps are more uncertain as I loose my depth perception. I have frequent trips to the retinal doctor, where a new drug, Macugen, is injected into each eye every six weeks or so, in an effort to slow the progression of my vision loss. If the treatment is not successful, the doctor has told me that I will be legally blind within a few months to a year.

As my vision dims, I have experienced an overwhelming outpouring of love and support. Friends’ offer, “If you need a ride to the doctor or the store, just let me know.” Notes of encouragement arrive from mere acquaintances, and a multitude of prayers are being sent my way. My twenty-three-year-old grandson tells me that he prays for me each night before going to bed.

Another grandson working on contract as a firefighter near Mosul, Iraq, wants to come home and bring my great-granddaughter for a visit. He wants me to be able to see her “once more,” just in case I won’t be able to in the future.

A delivery truck turns up my drive and I wonder, “What on earth have I have ordered?” Upon opening the box, I discover a magnifying makeup mirror with full spectrum light, a gift from a childhood friend I have known for over fifty years. She lives month to month, on a small disability income. She has multiple sclerosis and is battling breast cancer, yet she thinks of me!

I answer a neighbor’s knock on my door and she hands me a bouquet of helium-filled balloons in all the colors of the rainbow. She wants me to “Enjoy all the colors and remember what they look like!” Another neighbor, a retired high school English teacher, tells me that if I want to dictate any of my stories, she will be happy to type them for me.

On a bleak afternoon, after just learning that the Macugen appears not to be working, there is once again a knock at my door. A dear friend stands with flowers in hand. As we settle down for a cup of tea, she hands me a small brocade purse. “This was Mama’s,” she says. “I made it for her many years ago. I want you to have it.” How delighted I am to receive something she had made. As I take the purse in my hands, I feel something inside. When I unzip it, I find an antique, magnifying glass with a lovely porcelain handle.

A recent visit to the doctor shows that the loss of vision in my right eye has slowed and appears to be in remission for now. The vision in my left eye has not responded and continues to deteriorate, but a new, off-label drug that has been showing some favorable results is now being tried.

I do not fear the future, for I am blessed with a feeling of peace and comfort on this journey into darkness. I know that whatever happens, I have angels on my doorstep!

Priscilla Miller

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