On Columbus Day, my husband and I spent a wonderful day just driving around and enjoying the autumn scenery. I don’t know about you, but I seem to have an unusual sensitivity to the beauty in nature, and was once again overwhelmed by the beauty of the bright white and yellow streaks of sun streaming down through the white puffy clouds. Such a sight always encourages me as if reinforcing the fact that yes, there are clouds, and yes there may be rain, but that sun is still up there in the sky, overseeing it all, just waiting to break through and make things better. As an added visual treat, the sun shone so brightly on the tapestry of peak autumn leaves: oranges, reds and yellows, that I felt a need to wear my sunglasses, but with them on I would not be able to fully appreciate the effect of the over-the-top, gasp inducing colors. No photo, piece of artwork or beautifully sung song could have replicated the intensity of happiness that brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.
My husband and I sat, holding hands as he drove. There was no need to say anything. We were at peace, pleased to have such a respite after a hectic week of raising children and dealing with problems. We were in our own beautiful bubble, cell phones turned off so as not to ruin the interlude. It was a wonderful day!
Upon pulling into the driveway of our home, I spotted the two small maple trees which Marie had planted a few years ago. She had excitedly dug them up when they were fragile saplings with broken branches, and planted one on each side of the driveway. She had added gravel at the base of each, and attached a tall, straight, thin stick to keep them growing upright. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed them before. I had NOTICED them, of course, but I had never really SEEN them. They had grown to be about four feet tall, straight and strong. My breath stuck in my throat as the brilliant, bright yellow leaves danced happily in the gentle breeze. They were a growing metaphor for my daughter, blossoming and beautiful and holding the promise of a bright future in their little yellow leaves. Despite once being fragile and broken, they would grow tall and amazing and fit perfectly in this world, reassuring me that my daughter, who was also once fragile and broken, would grow tall and amazing and fit perfectly in this world.
Archive for the ‘deafness’ Category
One day several years ago, many months after Marie came to live with us, my husband, in a good mood, came into the kitchen, swooped me backwards, and gave me a passionate kiss. When we had finished, I noticed Marie standing there, gaping, eyes wide, with a shocked look on her face.
“What was THAT????’ she asked in American Sign Language.
“A kiss,” I told her.
“No, no”, she signed back, “a kiss is a little peck on the lips” she said as she came over and demonstrated one on the dog. (Heaven knows a teenager would never kiss their MOTHER!)
“There is a different kind of kiss when you really love someone like your husband” I said.
“That is amazing! How did you LEARN to do that? ” she asked plaintively.
“You don’t learn it, you just feel it. It is natural when you love someone,” I explained to her.
“Well,” she huffed, “I’m going to wait until I’m 17 to do that,” she said as I said a silent prayer to myself that I should be so lucky for her to wait that long!
I laughed inwardly at her innocence, this worldly child who, because of her child abuse knew the mechanics of sex more than anyone her age. I doubted she ever saw anyone really “in love” before, and she had never seen anyone kiss passionately, which really surprised me. The more I thought about it, though, I realized she hadn’t been exposed to it in her young life and the only other way she might know would be from watching television. Because of her deafness and lack of early education, she had a low reading level and was not able to understand the captioning on tv, so she did not generally watch comedy or drama series. Her favorite tv channel was (and still is,) the Animal Planet where captioning is not really needed to enjoy the shows. What wonderfully active lives those animals live! Exotic lives! Interesting lives! Dangerous lives! Sometimes romantic lives; nuzzle noses, lick, bite, cuddle, hug, dance and flap their wings as a means of showing affection. But a long, romantic, “mushy” kiss? I think not….Marie had to learn that from her parents…
To read more about our life, here is a link to my book:
Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/
I wrote a while ago about the damage I did to my daughter, Dinora’s, prom dress eight or nine years ago. I miscalculated my ability to hem such a delicate item (ON the day of the prom when she told me it was too long to go with her shoes…after weeks of my asking….) The hem was crooked and the dress was gathered in places it should be gathered! I was saved from the humiliation of being a terrible mother by a local taylor who miraculously fixed my mistake, leaving her prom dress in pristine condition.
Well, my youngest daughter, Marie, who is deaf, is going to a prom next month. This is the daughter who has always preferred to wear male clothing, even men’s bathing suits! Her theory is, if she dresses like a boy, no one will think she is a girl, so no men will “bother” her… She, of course, does not realize that at sixteen years old, she has developed in such a way that men’s clothing can no longer disguise the fact that she is a girl.
Marie had a talk with her counselor, and she actually decided she wants to wear a prom dress, which would be the first DRESS she ever wore. She was mortified at the thought of a short dress, but warmed to the idea of a full length gown. So, last weekend I took her shopping for a prom dress, every mother’s dream activity to do with her growing daughter. Again, my dream activity quickly turned to a nightmare, but then I was again saved from disaster.
The day started out fine as we went to the mall. Marie led the way to a major store she knows I have a credit card to. (Thus my laments that I “have no money” would be moot to her.) The gowns were dazzling bright with sequins and frills, but not enough fabric to cover Marie’s “growing” body. She ran from rack to rack, picking out modest gowns to try on. Looking at the size 11s, I knew she was not going to fit into them. In the dressing room, she kept asking me to help her zip them up. I tried to explain to her they were too small, but she accused me of not helping her enough! We had an argument in the dressing room and she flew out in anger. We walked the length of the mall with her seething inwardly, when she spotted JC Penney, another store to which I have a credit card. We found the prom gown section, and BLESS this store…they had gowns all the way up to size 19/20. Marie, in her glory amongst the choices, found what she thought to be the perfect gown and they had it in her size. It was white with rhinestones and layers of ruffles and her eyes glowed happily as she tried it on. She looked like a bride and my eyes filled up with tears. I thought of the despair we felt as she left the previous store without a dress, and the joy we both felt as she found a dress to fit her. I say thank you to those stores who have clothes of all sizes for teenagers, especially JC Penney’s, which enabled one sixteen year old girl who is deaf to move one step closer to her date at the prom.
My job is a social worker for children who are blind includes coordinating both a summer and winter program for the children with whom we work. Last winter we went to an indoor water park during February vacation with about twenty-five children who are blind and “legally blind”. The children had a wonderful time playing in the water park, on the slides, in the wave runner surfing area, and in the pool, as well as participate in the regular activities that we plan, such as playing bingo and dancing. Getting together is a huge big deal for these children who are mainstreamed into regular classrooms in their neighborhood public schools where they might not ever see another student with a vision impairment. I began this program twenty two years ago when my oldest son, who is legally blind, was six years old.
The winter program was a huge success! Most notably for me, it was the first time my fourteen year old daughter who is profoundly deaf wanted to help out a group of younger girls who are blind. Each girl had their own staff person who amicably allowed Marie to join their group to help with the little girls. Despite the fact that she normally communicates in American Sign Language, she somehow managed to be very sociable and get along well with everyone. Having normally been obsessed with surfing at the wave runner attraction, and being a somewhat selfish young lady, I had expected she would help for a little while, but spend most of her time surfing. However, I was pleasantly amazed that she did not choose her own activity, but spent all of her time in the water park playing with the little girls, helping them on the slides, holding their hands to guide them around the park, showing them where the food was on their plates, and so forth. She was having a grand time, and the girls all seemed to adore her.
On the last night of this program. Marie was seated at a booth with two of the girls and their staff. One of the girls all of a sudden started waving her hands wildly in the air. Prone to seizures, her staff person asked her if she was okay. She said of COURSE she was okay, she was just TALKING to Marie!! The laughter started at their table and soon circled around the room as everyone realized what she had said…she was signing to her, of course!!!!