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THE WOMEN OF TTN

Our members are the heart and soul of The Transition Network.  Our chapters are born, nurtured and grown through the vision and energy of these exceptional women. And they come to TTN with wonderful life stories of successful careers, diverse families, and plentiful life experiences to share.  

Browse through our Member Profiles to learn more about what brought our members to this point in their lives, what they are hoping to accomplish next and how they view their impact on the world.

Mary Hiland

Blind Author Explains How She Cared for Aging Mom

By Joe Blundo 
The Columbus Dispatch 
  
Mary Hiland is not accustomed to feeling helpless.

But when her 98-year- old mother broke a hip and was lying cold, hungry and
unattended for hours in an emergency room, she had reached a low point, she
said.

“I felt more blind than usual.”

Hiland, in fact, is blind. She lost her sight to a genetic retinal disorder as a young
adult. It made helping her fiercely independent mother make the transition to
assisted living more challenging, but Hiland persevered and learned a lot in the
process.

The Gahanna resident tells the story in a self-published book, “The Bumpy Road
to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir” (available at amazon.com), that offers
advice to people on helping an aging parent at the end of life.

Hiland, in an interview, said she was late recognizing the signs of dementia in her
mother. Once she understood that she could not argue her mother out of her
forgetfulness, confusion and depression, she found it easier to accept the
situation.

“Be open to the possibility of dementia,” advised Hiland, 72.

Her mother, Regina Wilson of French Lick, Indiana, was a take-charge woman
determined to live on her own. When Wilson’s friends began calling Hiland to
alert her of Wilson’s decline, she realized that she had to move her to central
Ohio. (Hiland’s only sibling, a brother, had died years earlier.)

Her mother insisted on moving many more things than she could possibly use in
assisted-living unit: martini glasses, cocktail dresses, gardening tools.
“I think it’s part of holding onto the past,” Hiland said. “I think owning things
gave her a little more feeling of power.”

The two had always enjoyed a close relationship, Hiland said. Wilson didn’t
shelter her daughter, despite her eye condition, which left her legally blind by age
18.

“She was very, very supportive of anything I wanted to do,” said Hiland, who until
her retirement served as executive director of the American Council of the Blind
in Ohio.

Their close relationship kept Hiland from taking things personally when her
mother became combative.

Enlisting her adult children and some close friends to help her manage was vital,
she said. Her daughter worked persistently on organizing Wilson’s belongings.
Her son went to the hospital that desperate night to help his grandmother get
dressed.

“There we were, my son and me, putting a bra on his 98-year- old grandmother,”
she writes.

She ends the book with a journey back to French Lick, a 12-hour round trip by
car, to put flowers on her mother’s grave after her death in 2014. The logistics
weren’t easy for a blind person, but she had a good reason for doing it.

“I had the gift of a loving mother,” Hiland said. “A gift I cherish.”

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist. jblundo@dispatch.com