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Looking For Acceptance

Editor's Note: Adele Dubrofsky is an active member of AEBC's Montreal Chapter and in her local community. She co-runs a diabetic support group and also helps others cope with vision loss.

My story is very typical of most families. I was born with a disability--my eyes were not fully developed--and my mother could not accept the fact that she had a handicapped child. Growing up, my mother always told me, "Act normal. Don't tell anyone you can't see."

In 2000, I developed cancer in the back of my eye. After the operation, my doctor told me I would loose my vision totally in the next couple of years. My family never knew about my condition and later they did not know that I could hardly see.

When it came time for me to use a white cane, my mother told me not to bring it to her building, since she didn't want the neighbours to know I was handicapped. I tried to please her and the rest of my family by acting like nothing was wrong. I walked very slowly, and at family functions I always ate after everyone else so I wouldn't bump into anything or spill anything on my sister's good tablecloth.

When I was hit by a car one year later, I had a lot of time in the ambulance to think about what I was doing to myself and how depressed I was not having the support of my family. My wonderful husband suggested I look into getting a guide dog. I took his advice and got my beautiful Abba.

That week, we had an anniversary party. Imagine my families surprise when I walked in with Abba and my husband! There was silence in the room. You could hear a pin drop.

My sister came running up to me and said, "You are not blind! What are you doing with this dog?"

I told her that I had just come out of the closet and that I had been legally blind for the last ten years. "If you are ashamed of me," I said, "that is your problem, not mine."

I have not been invited to any family functions for the past three years. The excuses my sister gives are that there is no room at the table or that some family members of my brother-in-law are afraid of dogs.

I love my family and I hope one day they will accept me for the wonderful person I am.