Daisy and Mervin, both in their 90s, are childhood sweethearts. Daisy was diagnosed with glaucoma at the age of 38. Last year, she lost her sight completely. They share how their love for one another has helped them cope with sight loss together.
Daisy: I had glaucoma when I was 38, and I’m now 91. It runs in the family. I felt the pressure in my eyes building up and my field of vision was reducing. That’s how we found out.
Mervin: We were playing table tennis with an old lady and she beat Daisy. We couldn’t understand it. But it was because you were losing sight of the ball, wasn’t it?
Daisy: Yes, I was a gymnast and highly capable, and for this old lady to beat me at a silly game like table tennis, I couldn’t believe it.
So this was a number of years ago, you must have had such a fright?
Daisy: Yes, but I wasn’t as frightened so long as I kept my central vision and I could still read. But then just a year ago I got this macular thing and it just wiped it out. I once read in a book that said it’s only the males in the family who get it. It isn’t.
And of course, Mervin was by your side the whole way through.
Mervin: Yes. And this was before the war; the word glaucoma in those days was like cancer is nowadays. It developed, but we had it controlled. She hasn’t had good sight since the age of 38, but sufficient enough to get around, be able to read and take a job. But then to see your lovely wife, one day quite capable of walking through the room, a few days later not being able to do so without help, emotional and physical sadness are things we’ve just had to cope with. We’ve coped all these years, and we’re still coping.
Daisy: The sad part is when the children come to see us, as we have a son and a daughter, and you can’t see their faces. It’s made my grandchildren very aware of other people’s needs. To realise I need help and that I’m not the only one. That’s made good citizens out of them.
That’s one of the good things to come out of something like sight loss…
Mervin: Yes, it’s very true that. We’ve been married 65 years now. It’s something you don’t boast about, but a love and a bond still continues, and it’s amazing what you can do with the upsets in your life if there’s a love between two people. Love can overcome lots of things. We’ve had cancer and heart operations in our lives. They’re things you can get better from. But then this comes, which you know you’re not going to get better from, so you adapt your life to cope with it. And you can do, as I say if the bond is love, then you’ll cope with most things.
Daisy: I think the thing I miss the most is being able to read. Not just an audiobook, but to read a recipe in the kitchen. But I have got my husband to cook now.
Mervin: Unfortunately, Daisy has lost the other senses as well, taste and smell, as well as her sight and her hearing. Fortunately, she hasn’t lost her sense of touch.
Daisy: I can still smack him…
Mervin: Seems unkind really to boast about how we’re still together, because there are lots of lovely people that have to cope with blindness that haven’t got somebody. For those dear souls, my heart goes out. And we’re blessed that we’re still together. A sense of humour has a lot to do with it as well you know, mind…
So, what have you got planned for the future?
Mervin: Well, we’ve taken a book out of the library with a three-week return on it.