Ruth E. Vallis is the author of the new memoir Love Is Blind. Vallis has been blind since she was a small child. The book focuses on her life and her relationship with her late mother. Vallis, who worked as a physiotherapist for many years, lives in Toronto.
Q: What inspired you to write this memoir?
A: I have spoken many times to various groups and at medical conferences related to my career and, often, people in the audience would ask me to write about my life and what has led to my success.
Although they often called me inspiring, I felt the real inspiration was my mother, Peach.
When those speaking engagements were related to the disabled, in particular the blind, there were often “experts” presenting on how to raise a blind child.
I always felt those in attendance were missing out on the practical wisdom of Peach as she was never invited to speak as she wasn’t an expert, simply a wise mother with a proven track record.
When I retired from my career as a physical therapist I decided it was time to write that story and share what Peach’s wisdom, dedication, love, and humour did for me and can possibly do for others.
Q: How would you describe the relationship between you and your late mother?
A: We were soulmates – the same priorities, the same principles and the same faith. Although we often appeared simply as good friends to outsiders, she was still always my mother, from the first day to the last – when she spoke, I listened.
However, as I grew older she became less of an authority figure and more of an advisor, but only when I asked for advice. I could talk to her about anything and she listened and responded without judgment, only helpful, wise suggestions.
We adored each other. Every night we spoke before sleep, even when I didn’t live with her, and she always ended with, “I wouldn’t trade you for one million Ruths who can see!”
Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: When I was in the eighth grade my English teacher encouraged the students to write a thought each day. She suggested to me that, because I had already lived an interesting life, I should eventually write my story and call it, “Love is Blind.”
As I wrote the book it became apparent that title was the right one. There has been so much love extended to me by many people along my journey; however, in the case of Peach, it has often been tough love.
Nevertheless, it is that toughness which taught me to love myself enough to be blind to my disability and envision the possibilities – what I can do and become.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: There is power in a mother’s love for her child and power in a child’s love for her mother. Furthermore, there is generally great strength within and between women.
Although the journey of life will not be easy for any of us, disabled or not, we can each achieve much with encouragement, love and commitment.
As Peach often said, we should not lament the things we can not do but, instead, find out what we can do and then just get on and do it.
Life is so much fuller and more wonderful if we recognize and appreciate the gifts and talents we possess and how we can use these abilities and opportunities for ourselves and to improve the lives of others.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: As the book is just coming out, I am working on sharing it with as many people as possible; however, I am also hoping for opportunities to share my story and thoughts through public speaking engagements once we are out of the pandemic.
In the meantime, I am writing a few magazine articles on various topics related to themes in my book.
Q: Anything else we should know.
A: Although listening to e-books and audibly recorded books may be easier than reading braille, we must encourage braille proficiency among blind people as it is literacy and a key to ongoing learning.
Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between braille literacy and employment. Sadly, only 8.5 percent of blind people currently read braille and unemployment among blind people is greater than 70 percent.
I hope everyone, especially women/mothers will be blessed by my book and, after they read it, they can contact me through my website if they want to share anything.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb