MONTREAL – When Pierre-Paul Thomas was a boy, he could not play hockey with his brothers and it broke his heart.
For Thomas had been born blind. He endured the triple misfortune of suffering from congenital nystagmus — a condition in which the eyes move from side to side involuntarily — along with damaged optic nerves and cataracts bulging behind his pupils.
It was the 1940s — long before medicare became available — and Thomas grew up in a family of nine brothers and sisters in the town of Saint-Rémi-d’Amherst, more than 100 kilometres north of Montreal.
His brothers and sisters were forbidden from calling him blind for fear of their mother whacking their behinds. So Thomas learned to “see” with his fingers. When he grew older, he repaired bikes, and for his first full-time job, he kneaded dough in a bakery.
Thomas could make out the rough, unfocused outlines…
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