Macular degeneration has reduced Sister Edith Kahler’s optical acuity but her world view remains as clear as day: Greet the day, greet new people and new experiences as the gifts that they are.
“My friendships in this community of Sisters have enriched my life so much. Through their lives, my own world view has been enhanced. When I was called to New Mexico to teach, Sister Ada Dominguez introduced me to her family. Their hospitality and the warm welcome I received from the people who lived in their neighborhood and worshiped in their parish enriched my life in so many ways during the 30 years I lived in New Mexico.
“My life has been extremely exciting since I entered religious life; I’ve had such wonderful opportunities,” says this now retired educator. “As a reading specialist and Workshop Way teacher I was able to help so many people. I just thank the Lord for putting people in my path when I needed them — or when they needed me.
“I was diagnosed 20 years ago with macular degeneration; for the past seven years, the disease has affected both eyes and I’m legally blind. Even so, I’ve found I have a great appreciation for the beauty of other people.
“I have a wonderful friend and mentor at the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids: Karolina Smiley. And I only met Karolina because our Health Care Services Director Laurie Sefton asked me to make an appointment at the Association as a favor.”
“I didn’t go into my first meeting with much enthusiasm,” admits Sister Edith. “But then Karolina, who is a certified rehabilitation therapist, asked me what would I like to be able to do. “Well I said, one, I want to pray with my Sisters, read from my Dominican Praise Book and read Scripture. Two, I want to be able to answer my Christmas cards. And three, I want to read, a book a week.
Then Karolina started presenting all of these visual aids and resources. She got me a machine that allows me to continue to read; she enrolled me in digital books*. It’s been the most exciting experience! Her friendship and resources have brought all these activities back into my life.
“All of these opportunities have been gifts and graces; what treasures life holds when we open ourselves to new people, new information and new experiences.”