'On loan' daughter will be missed

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By Becky Cassell, Editor

I feel like I'm losing a daughter, and she hasn't even left yet. And the worst part is that she's not even my daughter.

Marybeth moved in with our family in June. And she's leaving tomorrow. We're going to miss her so much.

While she has sometimes called me "Mom" and we've all treated her like one of the family, she actually belongs to some friends in Illinois. A student at Southern Illinois University, Marybeth was only "on loan" for the summer.

And summer is over.

Marybeth has been a joy to our family. From coloring princess pictures with our 8-year-old daughter, teasing our 12-year-old son about his newfound interest in girls and good-naturedly arguing with our 15-year-old son to cuddling with "Mom" when she didn't feel well or asking advice from "Dad" about guy-stuff, we have made a place in our family for her.

Needless to say, there's going to be a gigantic hole left behind when she goes back to college tomorrow.

Marybeth is more than just a young lady with a good head on her shoulders. She is truly a role model. You see, Marybeth has a disability. One wouldn't know it to look at her. And it's very easy to forget.

She has Stargardt disease, the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration, which causes decreased central vision. This means that Marybeth has difficulty with simple, everyday tasks that the rest of us take for granted like reading, watching television and looking at faces.

But none of that holds her back from doing anything that she wants to. In fact, overcoming her disability often drives her to accomplish tasks that would be difficult for another girl her age without her disability.

For instance, her college major is photography. She has taken thousands of photographs and developed them the old-fashioned way with chemicals and such. And she definitely has an eye for shadows and light when it comes to black and white photography.

She also has a couple of really neat gadgets that help her with everyday tasks, several of which I'm quite envious of now that I've gotten older and my eyesight isn't what it used to be. There's the light-up magnifier that she uses with her cell phone. And she also has a "Nemo," which is also a lighted magnifier that she uses to read books and recipes. It reads text and allows her to change from black words on a white background to a negative style that's easier for her to see.

But even without her special gadgetry, Marybeth can do anything she wants. We're just so thankful that she wanted to spend the summer with us.

Hopefully, we can tempt her to come back soon with promises of Ski, to which she has developed an apparent addiction. They don't sell that in Illinois.

Come back soon, B. Mom and Dad love you.