American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Summer 2021 PERSPECTIVES
An Interview with Vicki Fant
Reprinted from Braille Monitor, Volume 64, Number 6, June 2021
From the Editor: LaShawna Fant is a graduate of Mississippi State University, and she teaches blind and low-vision students in Mississippi. When she was a senior in high school, she lost nearly all of her vision within a few months. The change shook her life to its foundation, but it sent ripple effects through her entire family. Recently LaShawna interviewed her mother to explore how she coped with the change in their lives.
LASHAWNA FANT: Hello, Mama! Thanks for giving me the time to interview you. Please let the audience know a little about you.
Vicki Fant: Hello, everyone. At the age of eighteen, I became the mother of LaShawna. She was my firstborn. She was born with 20/20 vision. I took jobs as a cook and also in factories to provide for my daughter. I am blessed to have her as my daughter, along with her two other siblings. Currently I am employed in the nursing field and enjoy working in my yard.
LF: I am blessed to have you as my mom. I became blind my senior year of high school. What was this like for you as a mom?
VF: I felt like I failed as a mom. I should have been able to protect you. I cried and cried and cried. You were the person who helped me with your younger siblings. You were the one who helped your grandfather and great-grandmother. You had your own car. You had a job and loved playing sports. It was hard to see you go from having sight to having no eyesight.
LF: How did you adjust emotionally?
VF: As time passed I got better. When you first lost your vision, I thought I would have to take care of you as long as I could. I prayed so much. It seemed as though I prayed non-stop. As I learned about various technology and things that would help you live independently, I knew you were going to be all right.
LF: Being you saw me go from vision to blindness in a matter of three to four months, how did this affect our family and me?
VF: When it first happened, LaShawna, it seemed as though you were going to be in a very deep depression and self-isolate for a long time. Your brother and sister were extremely shocked and confused, because the vision loss occurred so fast. You had been the link that held our family together, and when you became blind, it was like the rug was swiftly pulled from under us.
LF: In the early years of me becoming blind, what were your goals as a mom?
VF: My goal was first to get myself together emotionally and mentally so I could be strong for you. I wanted to get your confidence up so you could get back in the community. LaShawna, I also made it a goal to help our family put the shattered pieces back together. I knew we could still live a happy life despite your lack of vision. I knew that some way and somehow, you needed to go to college, and I made it a goal to learn what it would take to make this happen.
LF: You have been a super mama through this process, and I appreciate you. What gave you the strength to allow me to attend a training center a couple of months after becoming blind?
VF: One of your ophthalmologists in Memphis, Tennessee, made the referral to attend Addie McBryde Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Jackson, Mississippi. We went for a visit to the center, and I learned about the different ways they would teach you to regain skills such as writing using Braille, walking with a white cane, cleaning the house, ironing, washing clothes, and so many other things. I believed in my heart this would help you get back involved in society and live a full life.
LF: After attending two training centers the first year of being blind, you probably called me fifty times a day to ensure I was good once I started college and lived in the dorms. What assisted you in settling down and becoming less worried?
VF: I saw your confidence and peace. You were attending classes, meeting new people, and seeing others from our hometown; you were just thriving academically and socially. LaShawna, you helped me settle down a lot. I started seeing you in newspapers, on the local news station in Tupelo, Mississippi, and you were receiving many honors and awards. You tutored in higher-level math and English, and this was not long after starting college. I was amazed! It showed me the power of a determined mind, and it reminded me of the strength you had. I was a happy mama!
LF: You have cheered for me through the different phases of my life, whether it was college, employment, community involvement, or leisure activities. What are you most thankful for through this journey?
VF: I am truly thankful that you stayed strong. You made it. It did not break you. You survived and are still standing today. I have peace in knowing that if I die tomorrow, you will be okay.
LF: What encouragement would you like to give parents of blind children?
VF: Always support your child. Find out what resources are out there. Never lose hope. Stay involved with the National Federation of the Blind, because you will meet good people. Life does not stop because your child is blind. The sun still shines.