Mabel Pearline Walden, 74, is living proof that a person can overcome tragedy in their lives. Pearlie, as she prefers to be called, lived her first nine years pretty much like any other young girl. But tragedy struck her at age nine when she lost her sight.
It was not determined what caused the blindness, until 32 years later a doctor found a large amount of fluid in her head that caused the problem. Since that time, she has had two shunts placed to relieve the fluid situation.
She attended the School for the Blind in Donelson, where she met and fell in love with Horace Walden, who was also blind. They were married 26 years before he died in 1984. They raised two daughters, kept a home and lived like any sighted couple.
Daughter Gwendolyn Robles has fond memories of her and her late sister being raised by non-sighted parents.
“My parents were great, and I want the world to know just how wonderful my mother is,” said Robles. She remembers her mother doing just about everything sighted mothers did, such as keeping a home, cooking for the family, making sure the girls were cared for even down to curling their hair.
Pearlie plays the piano, and loves to read using Braille. In fact, when she was younger, she was active in the American Council for the Blind in Alabama, and taught Braille classes and the use of the abacus.
Perhaps one of her most interesting talents is the fact she loves to quilt. She has been turning out quilts for many years, after she decided to accept the challenge to learn.
“I just wanted to see if I could make a quilt, so I just started cutting and sewing, and have been at it ever since,” said Pearlie.
She uses a ruler with raised numbers to measure and cut her squares, and used a unique method to tell the right side of the fabric. She says if you touch the fabric to your lips, the right side has a distinctively different feel, therefore helping her make the right choice.
Perhaps the most unusual thing she does, is thread her needle. She puts a rather large sewing needle in her mouth, with the needle’s eye placed inward, and then inserts the thread into her mouth and threads it through the needle. She not only pieces the quilts, she also uses different methods to quilt them.
All her quilts go to family members, and even before one is completed someone in the family is hoping it is going to be theirs.
Grandson Lincoln Moore is a truck driver and says his quilt has traveled many miles with him, and given him much comfort.
Pearlie is currently in rehabilitation at NHC Healthcare, and is a joy to all who meet her.
Activity director Amanda Sain said, “I have been involved in healthcare since I was eight years old, and I’ve never seen anything like her. She is amazing and we are blessed to have her here because she is such an inspiration to all.”
Pearlie, who was named Manchester’s Woman of the Year in the ‘60s, has some helpful advice about challenges. She says, “If it’s something you can’t do anything about, just forget it. Don’t let it hold you back.”