My post today is an observation Laurie and I witnessed at Ocean City New Jersey yesterday and today (we took an overnight get away). There are two points. I hope you enjoy this true story.
We witnessed an older woman (70ish) standing about ankle deep in the ocean. Her back was to the water and she was holding a child’s swim ring that had a cord tied around it and it was also tied to her swimming suit. Her head hung down and she was slowly making her way out into the water. Because of how she was hanging her head and moving in the water we first thought that she was mentally challenged. After some time, we realized that she was blind. She continued to back into the water until she could sit on the ring. As the waves brought her back to shore, she would reach down and feel how deep the water was. She continued this activity all day.
Toward the end of the day several members of a family went to her and talked with her. We assumed that they were her family and that they were caring for her. The next day, the same woman returned with her ring and began the same pattern. This time we did not see her family. She was all alone. The waves were small and she began drifting out away farther and farther from the beach (the current was also taking her down the beach away from us).
We continued to watch her and were concerned because we didn’t see any family. Laurie began walking down the beach keeping an eye on her. She also noticed others on the beach watching. Since it is now September, there are no life guards anywhere on the beach to ask for help.
Finally a young woman swam out to the woman, talked briefly, and then swam back. The woman paddled with her hands and finally made it to shore on her own. Laurie asked the young lady and woman what was happening. It turns out that this woman is totally blind. She lives in Philadelphia and decided to come to the beach for a couple of days by herself. She walked out on the beach and set up a chair with a twirly bird that makes noise so that she can find it. She then walks to the beach and begins her adventure with the swim ring, rope and waves. There was a strange measuring act that she did. When asked about it she replied that she didn’t want to be close to the fishing pier so she measured off steps to insure that she would not float into the pilings.
The lady’s name is Jane. She had no fear of the water. She had no fear of traveling to Ocean City alone. Apparently she is very self sufficient and was not going to deny herself the pleasure of swimming in the ocean over a little issue of being totally blind! She refused help from the young lady when she looked to be drifting out to sea. She was very content with her calculations of staying away from the pier. Amazing! I can’t ever imagine traveling, getting a hotel, maneuvering down to the beach and swimming in the ocean by myself, totally blind, at the age of 70!
Here’s the second part. As we asked her about her adventure and who the people were yesterday she replied, “They’re not my family. I don’t know who they are. People in the hotel have been helping me and they come talk to me on the beach as well.” As we watched with concern when she was floating out to sea we noticed people all over the beach, young and old, keeping an eye on her. Word spread down the beach of this amazing woman and many were concerned for her well being. The “friends” from the hotel set up their chairs around hers and helped her get on and off the beach.
We were touched by Jane and her determination. We were also touched by the care of total strangers who were concerned enough about an old blind woman to keep watch over her just like they watched their children in the water. When she looked to be drifting out to far, a total stranger swam out to get her. No one complained or criticized. We were all proud of Jane and any of us were willing to help her in anyway possible.
Blessings Jane. You and the people on the beach were an inspiration this week! I only wish we could have taken a picture of her to share.