By Kent Larsen
Blind 82-year-old LDS Woman Starts Over
MODESTO, CALIFORNIA -- After a lifetime of serving others, 82-year-old
Maxine Varley has increasingly had to depend on others as she lost her
eyesight to macular degeneration. But last month she started learning to be
At 57, Varley retired from a career as a medical secretary and begin working
a small ranch near her home in Modesto. Then she discovered what seemed at
the time like her life's calling -- hospice work. She cared for many people
as they came to the end of their lives. She also stayed active in the LDS
Church, working as a volunteer at the local Family History Center.
But at age 70, Varley's condition first appeared. An incurable progressive
malady that slowly steals the vision of the elderly, macular degeneration is
one of the most common causes of blindness. It has no cure.
At first Varley struggled through with the vision that she had, but as the
malady became worse, she was forced to depend more and more on others. She
eventually was forced to stop her hospice work because she could no longer
read the names of the medications for her patients, She also had to stop her
work at the local LDS Family History Center.
The loss of her eyesight even led Varley to become depressed, until a friend
told her about the Orientation Center for the Blind in the San Francisco bay
area. Hoping to learn independence again, Varley has now moved to the center
for a six-to-nine month course in which she will learn to do things for
herself again. "I use to let people decide things for me, but not anymore.
I'm going to learn to handle my own affairs," Varley said.
Although she can't see, Varley's goals extend beyond caring for herself
again. She says both her eyes and heart are fixed on a goal. "I set as a
goal to be able to take care of people again, babies or the elderly, people
who don't have much of anything."
Senior takes control of her future
Walnut Creek CA Contra Costa Times 4Mar01 P2