Ernest Ramos takes pride in living an independent life and in having a fulfilling job.
But it hasn’t been an easy road.
“December 7, 2012 is the exact date my life changed,” Ramos said. “I was house-sitting for friends of mine because they went to New York for their son’s recital at the Easton House of Music.”
Ramos sat on the sofa watching TV when all of a sudden he felt like two light bulbs went off.
The lights remained on in the living room, but his retinas had simultaneously detached. His world went dark.
“That’s where my journey started,” Ramos said. “I call it a journey because it was very difficult at first.”
He battled depression, insomnia and suicidal thoughts. At his lowest point, he remembers walking aimlessly down the street, with tears falling down his face, and attempting to walk in front of a bus. He jumped back at the last second and clung to the example his father set for him.
“My dad was a Marine RECON, he served in various confrontations and he taught me not to quit,” Ramos said. “He taught me to be a fighter, and from that point on, I started to do exactly what he taught me from a very young age.”
Armed with a smartphone, he started finding apps for the blind and he started learning about ways to move forward. Prior to vision loss, he was a consultant in the dental field, so technology was something he knew extremely well.
With the help of his friends and family, he was able to get an apartment on his own.
A rehab specialist from the San Antonio Lighthouse helped him organize his apartment, gave him bump dots, special cooking utensils and even mittens that went all the way up to his elbows.
In 2015, he went to the Lighthouse to purchase a new mobility cane, but he walked away with much more than that. He found a job and a place of belonging.
Ramos is a machine operator at the Lighthouse, sewing chin straps for the Cavalier helmets for the Army and Marines.
“I love giving back because my dad was a Marine,” Ramos said. “It’s my way of service to our country. Because we are doing that. We’re supplying the women and men, in the Army and the Marines.”
He uses touch and memory recall to do a flawless job.
“The Lighthouse has meant everything to me,” Ramos said. “I love being part of the team. The camaraderie between co-workers and the satisfaction from the job you do. I was excited to meet other people that were visually impaired and blind, like me, that understood how we get treated out in public. We’re very capable of doing the jobs that we do here and we’re also very capable of doing other jobs. The lighthouse meant I was going to be part of something again.”