In this posthumous debut memoir, Marafito, with co-author Odubayo Thompson, offers an account of an independent and determined woman who refused to let severely limited eyesight define her.
The author was born in 1933 in the New York City borough of the Bronx. By the time she was 4 years old, she’d undergone numerous surgeries, aimed at saving her sight. Still, one eye remained totally sightless, and the other afforded only minimal vision. Unwilling to be limited by her disability, she quickly learned “the gentle art of bluffing,” which built her self-confidence: “As far as I was concerned, no one had to know I couldn’t see just like anyone else.” With the help of special programs at the city’s public schools, and her own drive to succeed, Marafito excelled, entering high school early at the age of 11. She began participating in recreational programs at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Manhattan; years later, she would meet her future husband, Jerry, there. They would go on to have two children, and eventually, they opened their own business—a newsstand at the Croton Harmon commuter railroad station in Westchester, New York—which they maintained for several decades. Odubayo Thompson is the eldest of Marafito’s two daughters, who was also born with partial vision, giving her a unique perspective of the challenges faced by her parents. She crafted this memoir from her mother’s extensive notes, discovered after her death. As a result, it’s written from Marafito’s first-person perspective, including a whimsical account of her own demise. However, it’s far more than just an accumulation of the specifics of a life well lived. It offers humorous and poignant anecdotes as it reveals what everyday existence is like for a person with limited vision. For example, here’s a description of a walk down Gun Hill Road after a snowstorm: “Curbs and sidewalks were lost in a collage of pink and purple bubbles, and more than once I found myself veering off into the depths of even more treacherous terrain.” Family photographs enhance the pleasantly conversational narrative.
An engaging and informative portrait of a visually impaired person’s life.