Local couple: Helping each other see the beauty in life

Terry Manno and Mark Grant are a remarkable couple. They have danced at all of the Milford Senior Center events this year. They have seen the latest movies, enjoy television and traveling to visit family members in Long Island and Pennsylvania, and have experienced the beauty of nearby beaches. All this even though Terry has very limited vision due to severe glaucoma and Mark is blind.

Living a normal life is and has been an important factor in this couple’s life. They enjoy movies because Terry’s limited vision provides a visual excursion for Mark. Their home boasts two televisions, one a 56-inch screen for Mark, who comments, “Imagine, now that’s a good one.” Terry provides the descriptions and together they enjoy many of the programs.

At first glance, it is clear how close they are, how much they love one another and how supportive and considerate they are of each other.

Mark’s blindness was caused by a serious auto accident years ago.

“My survival was the luckiest day of my life,” he said. “My surgeon, a doctor who had head trauma experience in Vietnam, picked up the pieces and saved my life.”

Following six weeks in a coma and a long, slow recovery, Mark was left blind.

Mark’s family assisted in his recovery, but eventually, it was time for him to strike out on his own. He had to learn how to live independently, prepare his meals, clean his apartment, launder his clothing, and shop for groceries. There were several options available to assist him and Mark chose Cleveland Sight Center in Cleveland. The experience was extremely difficult and the toughest challenge he ever endured. However, Mark was determined to live as normal a life as possible.

It was after that when Mark and Terry met at a family celebration, more than 35 years ago. Mark attended a reception that day and found himself in Terry’s home following the party. Terry left on an errand and returned to find Mark waiting for her. The rest is history, as they say, for in the near future, Terry and the handsome young man became virtually inseparable.

Terry’s family embraced the relationship, which grew as each day passed but which never resulted in marriage. Terry proudly states that Mark has always interacted with everyone in her family: baptisms, graduations and all the typical family celebrations. Mark’s past experience as a mechanic often provides insight to repairs on family cars, giving valuable support to many projects.

The happy couple, originally from Massapequa, Long Island, settled in Milford after being prompted by Terry’s daughter and family to relocate. Terry retired after 25 years as a cashier at the American Drive-In at Massapequa. She knew it was time to retire when she couldn’t see the numbers on the cash register anymore.

Sometimes their challenges get them down, but they are there to pick each other up.

When Terry gets depressed because of the glaucoma and the dwindling eyesight, Mark is there to cheer her up. Whenever Mark needs assistance to reach a destination, he places his hand on Terry’s shoulder as she leads him from chair to table, to the Low Vision classes and various activities at the Milford Senior Center, or wherever else they choose to go.

“There is nothing we can’t handle as long as we handle it together,” Terry said, and Mark agreed.

The Milford Senior Center hosts a Low Vision program, allowing those with visual handicaps to cope with vision problems and learn new skills. For information, call Mary Steinmetz at 203-877-5131.