BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- What would you do if the one thing you relied on to do your job was taken away from you? For Ken Havenstein, that worst-case scenario became a reality.
"One morning I woke up, it was a couple of days before Christmas about three years ago, and I couldn't see anything," explained Havenstein, Owner of Renaissance Floral Gallery in Binghamton.
Ken says doctors discovered it was due to complications with meningitis and he had a detached retina.
"The doctors had to do emergency surgery on my eyes and after I was declared legally blind."
It turned his world upside down. But he's facing it head-on each day.
"I couldn't continuing teaching art history, so I took a retirement in that, but I continued to work at the flower shop and have been able to overcome the hurdles associated with blindness."
Thanks to his years of teaching art history at SUNY Oneonta and the floral business, Ken said he just had to rethink the way he looks at his job now.
"I have a mental picture of what it should look like and I can sort of describe that without actually being able to see it clearly. Because in my mind's eyes it's still very present and still very, very clear."
So he takes that mental picture and turns it into reality.
"I have an idea of what things should look like. I know where flowers go and I can certainly put something together with about the same precision that I did when I was fully sighted. I've done floral arraigning for so long I can practically do it in my sleep!"
Ken says he's has a tremendous team of workers with him at the shop, and they're always right there to help when he needs it.
"I have a lot of good helpers. If there is anything wrong or anything that might be out of place, they're the first to let me know."
But he's also there for them...
"The thing is, many times I'm able to correct their mistakes and able to improve on their arraignments even though they can see fine!"
Ken added that some good has come out of this tough situation.
"The positive spin on this is there's more customer interaction. People really enjoy the fact that they can come in, they can pick out the flowers they like. They really do become much more involved than they might have if someone was just selecting all the flowers for them."
So even though he might not be able to see them, Ken knows he's creating smiles. Proving that you don't need your vision, to see the beauty in something.
If you would like to check out Renaissance Floral Gallery in Binghamton, click here.