President's Page BVA President Norman Jones

by Norman Jones

It has been just a few days since Diane and I left beautiful, warm Phoenix and headed back to the locale in which peaches, peach cobbler, and the best of pecans all awaited us. As I look back at the convention and review my notes of the things that occurred, the things that meant the most to me were the reunions with old friends and the opportunity to meet those who came for the first time. We now have a host of new friends.

The voices of those who were there still ring loud in both of my ears. I trust that all enjoyed safe return trips home. I prayed for you all and, in addition, sent up a word of hope to see you again next year. Ready or not, Portland, here comes the Blinded Veterans Association.

At every convention there are highlights and lowlights. I prefer here to focus on the most noteworthy highlight, at least from my vantage point. It came on Friday at the Father Carroll Luncheon with the address of Retired Major General Gale Pollock, who reviewed the need for continued research in the field of vision loss for the blind and visually impaired. Anything said or written on this subject is always good news for me.

General Pollock commanded us to be vocal. She reminded me of the old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, which in turn reminded me also of a rather dated story that perhaps everyone has heard but which fits the context of General Pollock’s remarks better than anything else.

There was once a family of parents and an only child, a son. The young man decided to join the Army. From the letters he received from home, he read between the lines of the loneliness that was left by his absence. He decided to visit the pet shop and there selected a bird to send home as company for mom and dad. A few weeks later, he called to see what difference the bird’s arrival may have made. As he spoke with his mom over the phone, he asked how the bird was doing.

“What bird?” she asked.

“The bird I sent you a few weeks ago,” he responded.

“Oh, yes, he was delicious,” his mother declared.

Nearly fainting, the young man asked her what she meant by the statement. His mother went on to say that, upon arrival, the bird had been taken out to the backyard by his father, where the latter chopped off the head of the bird, cleaned him up nicely, stuffed him with delectable dressing, and then surrounded him with ripe fruits, potato salad, and a pot of mixed vegetables, and Hawaiian punch.

“It was quite a feast,” she continued. “I even made a pineapple upside down cake for dessert.”

Fainting for real the second time but then regaining consciousness, the young man said this:

“Mom, I paid $500 for that bird,” he said. It could speak five languages and carry on a conversation in all of them.”

Strains of silence flooded the phone line, after which she replied.

“Why didn’t you say something about this before we received the bird?"

Fellow blinded veterans, we are like the young soldier when we refuse to say what we mean or adequately explain what we need. When we visit our medical centers or regional offices, we must say what we mean and mean what we say.

If you were unfortunately not at the convention to share General Pollock’s talk with me, at least you now have a mental picture. Please prepare to join me and all of us next year. Until my next writing, take care of yourselves. May God bless you and yours, and may God bless America.