People often take things for granted, even if they don’t mean to. When you’re exposed to something on a regular basis, you can forget how important it actually is. Unfortunately, it’s not until it’s gone that you finally realize how much you should have valued it while you still could.
Gene Purdie lived most of his life wishing he’d appreciated his vision before it disappeared. After being diagnosed with an incurable disease, the man found himself slowly losing more and more of his sight every day. It reached a point where Gene could hardly see at all, and things would only continue to get worse. Having now lived half of his life with these problems, there’s nothing he wants more than the ability to see again.
While this might seem like an impossible request, Purdie had his dream fulfilled when he appeared on the Rachael Ray show. For the first time in 16 years, he was able to see again, and his response blew everyone away.
The privilege of sight
Can you imagine waking up one day and not being able to see? Our vision is an incredibly precious thing, but we tend to forget how privileged we are to have it.
There are some people out there who would give their right arm to be able to see; people like Gene Purdie. Losing his sight changed his life, and it stopped him from being able to see the things that matter most to him. All he wanted was to change that just for a day.
A devastating diagnosis
Despite his current condition, Gene didn’t grow up without vision. For the most part, his sight was perfectly fine as a child. He never had any reason to suspect there was anything wrong with him until he hit his teenage years. Already a difficult time for most because of the trials of puberty, Purdie had the added problem of gradually losing his vision.
By the time he was 16, he’d realized that something was seriously wrong with him, so he sought medical advice. That’s when he was given the devastating news that things were only going to get worse. He was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a degenerative problem that affects people’s sight. The issues he had were just the start, and soon enough he’d barely be able to see at all. Although he’d never be completely blind, the blurry way he viewed things would render his vision useless.
Holding his head high
The diagnosis was a shock to the system, and Gene had to get his head around the prospect that he’d never see clearly again. At 16-years-old, that’s not an easy thing to do. However, Purdie took the news in his stride, determined to work around his growing problem rather than let it take over his life. He demonstrated that he was mature beyond his years by holding his head high and finding ways to move forward.
It wasn’t easy, but Gene found ways to adapt and live with his diagnosis. Unfortunately, even if he was putting on a brave face, it wasn’t easy for the man to wake up losing that little bit more of his sight. No amount of positivity would stop the disease from blinding him, and he had to accept there were certain things he’d never get to see. This was his life now.
Falling head over heels
Over time, Gene adjusted to being without proper vision to the point that he couldn’t really remember things any other way. He’d spent so much of his life with sight problems that it was now more familiar than anything else. Sure, it still got in the way of things, and it made certain aspects of life that little bit harder. However, it became less of an obstacle than he expected. He was still able to do the things he loved, and it didn’t stop him from starting a family.
Although his wife thought Gene was ignoring her when they first met, they quickly laughed about the misunderstanding when she realized he had Stargardt disease. Since then, the pair has been inseparable. It didn’t take them long to declare their love for each other and tie tying the knot, promising to stand by each other’s side through sickness and in health.
Love conquers all
Joy, Gene’s wife, knew about her husband’s issues from the moment they met, but that never stood in the way of her feelings for him. Even though his disease would be tricky to live with at times, she never considered ending their relationship. Their love was more important than whether or not Gene could see. However, although she wasn’t bothered by the difficulty of living with her husband’s Stargardt disease, there was one thing she wished for.
Just once, she wanted Purdie to be able to see her and know what she looked like. It might sound like a selfish desire, but she wanted it for him as well as her. He’d never seen her clearly before, and she was aware of how much that upset him. Imagine never being able to look at the person you love more than anything in the world.
What does he look like?
Her desire for Gene to be able to see properly only intensified when she gave birth to their son, Lincoln. It was one thing for her husband to never know her face, but to be robbed of the opportunity to see his child?
Joy felt that wasn’t fair but what could she do? Gene’s disease was incurable, and nothing the doctors did would help him get his vision back. If anything, they had to be grateful that he could at least see something, even if it was blurry.
It’s not fair
Gene’s inability to see made Joy angry at the world. She loved her husband so much, and she could see how much it was eating away at him. He could hold Lincoln in his arms and sing him to sleep all he liked, but he’d never be able to see his face.
Their child would grow up and mature into a wonderful young man, yet his father would never know what he looked like. That wasn’t okay, and Joy knew something needed to be done, but what?
A miraculous discovery
Just when Joy was about to give up hope, she saw something that rendered her speechless. A chance viewing of the talk show The Rachael Ray Show proved to have the answers she needed when someone with Gene’s condition was featured on the program.
The woman was given a pair of glasses that were designed to help her to see properly, and they worked. Despite living with Stargardt disease, the glasses improved her vision dramatically and stopped the world from being nothing but a blur. This was exactly what Gene needed.
Pleading for help
Joy wasted no time writing to The Rachael Ray Show in the hope they’d show Gene the same kindness they had that woman. She wrote of her husband’s issues, and how he’d always stayed positive despite the bad hand he’d been dealt.
She also mentioned that he’d never seen her or her son’s face before, and that it was his dream to do so just once in his lifetime. Joy had no idea if they’d find Gene’s story compelling and invite him onto the show, but she had to try.
A wiz in the kitchen
Hopeful it would earn him some brownie points, Joy also added that her husband was a talented cook. Considering Rachael Ray is a chef first and TV presenter second, she figured this would work in Gene’s favor.
Despite the fact he can’t see properly, her husband can whip up delicious meals in record time, and he’s far better in the kitchen than her. If that didn’t make him worth bringing onto the show, then she didn’t know what was. Now, she just had to wait for a response.
An open invitation
Joy’s fears that she’d be ignored were put to rest when she received a response from the talk show. The producers believed that Gene’s story was worth telling and wanted to give him the help he needed.
They invited the couple, along with their child and Purdie’s parents, to tape an episode with Rachael Ray and hopefully change Gene’s life forever. Understandably, Joy was overwhelmed, but not as much as her husband. There was a chance he’d get to see again, and that meant more to him than anything.
When the day finally arrived, Gene and his family were flown to New York to film their segment on Rachael’s show. After filling the audience in on his problems and what they’ve been like to live with, Gene was introduced to the glasses that would change his life.
They were similar in design to a virtual reality headset, and just as high-tech. The specs essentially alter how the world looks in a way that allows the wearer to see things as they’re meant to be. Would they work for Gene?
Dreams come true
As he put on the glasses for the first time, Gene felt nervous. He was being promised the opportunity to see clearly again, but what if they didn’t work? He didn’t want to get his hopes up, only for them to be crushed.
Fortunately, no-one was going to be leaving the studio that day feeling disappointed. As his eyes adjusted to the glasses, he was amazed at how clearly he could see. The sight he thought he’d lost several decades ago was now back and better than ever!
Seeing her for the first time
With his vision better than it’d been in years, Gene did what he’d wanted to do for a long time. He turned to Joy and Lincoln and found himself nearly lost for words.
All he managed to get out was “Oh, she’s pretty,” as he took in his wife’s face for the first time. Gene had a beaming smile on his face as he said it, unable to believe that he was finally seeing his wife clearly for the first time in his life. It was worth the wait.
Filled with emotion
As Gene adjusted to having normal vision again, his loved ones couldn’t help but get emotional. They’d been with the man through all of his ups and downs, so they knew how much this opportunity meant to him.
Even Gene was getting choked up as he took in the smiles of his wife and child, something he never thought he’d get to see. He wanted nothing more than to wear those glasses forever and spend every waking moment looking at their beautiful faces. That’s when he received an unexpected surprise.
A generous gift
As a kind gesture from the people at eSight, the company that made the glasses, Gene was gifted a pair of the high-tech specs. With a price tag of around $15,000, he never would have been able to afford the glasses himself, so to get them for free meant a great deal.
Now, he’d be able to see his loved ones as often as possible. He’d no longer have to miss out on any more big moments in Lincoln’s life, something that truly meant the world to Gene.
Clearer than ever before
With these glasses in his life, the future looks bright for Gene. Although it’s unlikely that doctors will ever be able to cure his Stargardt disease, he can now see things clearer than ever before.
No, he can’t wear the high-tech specs all the time, but even just having them on for five minutes a day makes a huge difference. It’s more than he had a few years ago, and it means he gets to see the special moments when they happen. That’s something he will always be grateful for.