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Retired MD Loses Site And Retires To The Villages, Fl. Dancing Becomes His New Vision!
Just five years ago Rey Arceo enjoyed life as we all know it. A rare eye disease took his eye sight in both eyes. Depression turned to total enjoyment as his wife Jeanette encouraged him to learn to dance. They dance and enjoy life more than ever.
I noticed a graceful dancing couple to be seen many evenings at either square in The Villages. They dance routines with poise and ease and obvious enjoyment, always in touch with each other. The man wears sunglasses. He is blind.
The couple was delighted to tell me their story and for me to take a peek into their life. I visited their beautiful home in The Villages and was greeted enthusiastically by their loving dog – some kind of terrier-mix rescue dog.
Rey and Jeannette show how a life in The Villages can be fun and how a relationship can evolve and develop despite of, and because of, a sudden radical change in health. Their story is inspirational.
Rey was born in The Philippines and raised in a very protective environment. He was not encouraged to play or make friends. He had no experience dancing as a teen, was not in social situations to learn and was too shy to try. His was a solitary childhood, groomed to be a medical Doctor. His horizons expanded when he emigrated to The United States and worked as a medical research pathologist for developing pharmaceuticals.
When retirement approached he and Jeanette, explored many places to live and chose The Villages over many other choices. Jeanette and Rey have been together 27 years. Jeanette had retired from a teaching career and both were looking forward to an active retirement. Then Rey began to lose his sight.
Rey suddenly became blind in his left eye in 2001/2. He had a hemorrhage in the choroid middle, vascular coat of the eye, between the sclera and the retina. This was operated on to stop the bleeding, but the scar tissue damaged the ability to see. The cause of the bleeding was surprisingly unknown and not attributed to his diabetes. Then the same problem occurred in his right eye in 2004. The left eye is totally dead, the right eye still is alive and there is some shadowy awareness, but the operation to stop the bleeding again caused scar tissue and left him blind in both eyes.
When he sunk into darkness he was understandably distressed and depressed. He did not want to do anything, or go outside the house. He became totally dependent on his wife. For an independent intelligent man this was devastating. Leading a sheltered life with few social outlets was not unfamiliar, but the loss of sight was a great handicap. He then decided he would not give up and would not retire from life. They both decided to find some things that he could do with her help.
They came to The Villages in 2005 because of the many activities offered here. He was already blind when they arrived. They decided to learn to dance. This was something they could both learn together and would give them something they could share. Rey always loved listening to music and watching others dance. He never thought he would or could do it himself.
They took lessons with various instructors through the Lifelong Learning program here in The Villages. They both loved it. The teachers were patient with him, teaching him by the feel not by the look of the steps. Jeanette guided him and danced with him, always in touch and teaching him as she learned. Rey found he wasn’t shy or concerned what other people would think as they watched him. He couldn’t see anyone round him anyway. This freed him to be relaxed and have fun.
Now it is a passion for them both. They take lessons and practice every day. Rey sometimes wakes early and practices the dance steps alone. Practicing in the garage did not give enough room so they book space in a large room at Hibiscus Center in The Villages to practice by themselves every weekend. Then they choose which Square in The Villages to go to depending on the type of music playing. There they dance outside and have fun.
They dance effortlessly, expressively and beautifully. Their joy and connection as a couple is obvious. Watching them gave me Goosebumps! Jeanette is his eyes and his partner. They are happy and he has found he can live a fulfilling life despite his handicap. He is an inspiration to all here in The Villages.
The Following Video shows this incredible story.. http://youtu.be/
Page Updated Last on: Aug 05, 2012