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 ‘hard of hearing’ Category
We adopted Dinora from Guatemala at the age of 6 weeks, and I was so thrilled to have a daughter!!! She came with a variety of diseases common in s 3rd World Country, scabies, intestinal parasites and malnutrition. But we loved her and fed her and she blossomed into an adorable baby with big black eyes and shiny black hair.
At the age of six months, it became apparent that Dinora was deaf. She had not yet started to babble like other babies her age, but she also did not turn to her name, or looked at the dog when she barked, or seem to notice the footsteps of me coming into her bedroom. She would be laying there awake when I walked in, (and, believe me, I am not light on my fight.) When she finally would see me, she would startle. She had not heard me. The day I knew it for sure was a day she was sitting next to me on the floor while I was doing the dishes. I accidentally dropped a huge lobster pot I was cleaning and it made a horrendous clang on the floor. Dinora happily sat there playing, her back to the pan. She did not startle. She did not cry. She did not hear it.
We then made the rounds of the doctors. She flunked regular hearing tests, and had a brain stem evoked response test. Her brain did not respond up to 90 decibels. The doctor informed me that she was severely hearing impaired and that we would try hearing aids to maximize her hearing, although they would not be strong enough for her to hear normally. They took the impressions for her ear molds.
That evening, our family went for a pre-Christmas visit to a shrine beautifully decorated with Christmas lights. I was feeling sorry for myself. I had a two year old son who was legally blind, and now I had an infant daughter who was deaf.
There was a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes surrounded by prayer water and many large candles. There was also a large display of crutches and wheelchairs of people who had been healed by her. I helped my son, Francis, who was 2 1/2 years old, light a candle. Because it was almost Christmas, and the only candles he had seen were on a birthday cake, he merrily sang “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus”. I remember saying a non-de-script prayer, still upset that Dinora was deaf. I still thanked God, but was not quite as enthusiastic as usual.
The next morning, the dog barked and Dinora woke up! I thought it was a coincidence until I started to walk into her room and she turned to smile at me. She had heard my footsteps! I started talking to her and she started babbling back. Only a day earlier she had been fitted with ear molds for hearing aids! I excitedly called the doctor, who agreed to see her that day. Her hearing was tested and it was normal! Neither I nor the doctor could believe it. He said in his 29 years as an ear doctor he had never seen anything like it. He told me that it had to be an “Christmas miracle from Above”. The visit the night before to the shrine came to mind. A miracle HAD occurred, and I was embarrassed because I had not thanked God more enthusiastically the night before. He had granted me a miracle even though I did not ask for one.
Dinora is now 28 years old and has had perfect hearing ever since that day! And I have lived life with a peaceful,generous heart because I know, without any doubt, that God is with me.
My 13 year old daughter announced to me the other day that she is in love! As a young girl once myself, (many, many years ago, ) I remember the joy of first love, the innocence, the caring how you look, and the giddiness involved. Marie showed me a picture of him. His name is Jose and he recently moved to their school from Guatemala. Cute kid. He had already accomplished one thing…motivated Marie to go to school every day. She also dutifully did her homework, because if she didn’t she would have to sit with the teachers at lunch rather than…Jose!!!!
When I came home from work today, my husband was exceptionally glad to see me and he said he needed help. Marie had come home from school and asked him to pick Jose up and bring him to our house. They had been “calling each other” all afternoon. The major problem is, both are profoundly deaf. Jose was calling her on his house phone. Marie was desperately trying to text him on her cell phone. A child of technology and a certain standard of living, Marie could not understand why Jose did not have a cell phone. Jose called time and time again. Exasperated, Marie asked me to “talk” to him. As with Marie’s speech, his words were indistinguishable. I explained to her that I could not understand what he was saying. Marie came up with the bright idea of calling my other daughter, Dinora, who is also from Guatemala. ”She talk same. Understand him!” Marie signed. I laughed and told her she spoke Spanish but would still not be able to understand him. My husband just shrugged. He had not been able to explain it to her either.
Marie begged for me to just go to his house to pick him up. She knew where he lived, she insisted. He lived in “next town”. The “town” we live next to is the second largest city in our state. She proudly drew a picture of 2 cross streets and a house on the corner, next to a tree. The house had the number 123 on it. ”There”, she signed, “Map same Judge Judy.” She was, of course, referring to the Judge Judy television show where litigants would demonstrate on a map, very similar to the one she drew, regarding how a car accident had happened. ”What name street?” I asked. She looked at me and signed “123″. ”No, what NAME street?” I signed back. She didn’t know, but said the map was good and it would show us how to get to his house. My husband and I burst out laughing hysterically, hurting Marie’s feelings. We explained how we would have to go street to street throughout the enormous city looking for all of the houses with “123″ on them until we found Jose’s. She did not appreciate the humor in it. She asked to me to call his mom, which I tried to do. However, Jose repeatedly answered the phone, wanting to “talk” to Marie. So, there were the 2 of them, both “talking” to each other for over an hour, neither one aware of what the other was saying. Perhaps that is just as well…
Yesterday was my brother’s birthday, so as treat, I took him on a trip to the Museum of Science. My brother turned 51 years old, (while I am not admitting my age, I can’t deny that I am older.) For those new to my blog, Curtis is legally blind, profoundly deaf, and severely developmentally delayed. He can also be a joy to be around! He is fun loving and enjoys just about anything.
My son Angel came with me on this adventure. I picked Curtis up in the afternoon and he was so excited about the trip that he actually came dancing out of his group home, wearing a non-stop grin that was contagious. We drove to suburban area of the city where the museum is with the plan to take the Metro into the city the next morning. Before we went to the hotel, we stopped at a mall for dinner. Curtis’ LOVES malls, especially the food court, where we all had our choice for dinner. After eating, Curtis wanted to walk around the mall independently. I gave him $20 to spend and agreed we could meet back at the food court in an hour. Off he happily went, thinking he was alone. All the while, Angel played “spy” and followed him. He thought he was on his own, and we didn’t want to spoil that illusion. Off he went to, predictably, get a diet coke. He pointed to the diet coke sign and handed the cashier his $20 bill. She handed him his soda and his change, which he attempted to put in his pocket, (with half of it falling out on the floor.) As he turned away to sit at a table, Angel scooped down and picked up his change to give back to him later. Angel sat a few tables away so he could keep an eye on Curtis. After finishing his soda, Curtis was up and moving…with his nephew as a tailgater. Curtis then started his quest to fine every single elevator in the mall. He knows that stores like Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Sears. and Lord & Taylor have elevators and he has the nose to sniff them all out. In his mind, the elevators are transporters, taking him to level of the space station on Star Trek. He has a mission to complete, to find every elevator in the mall, and after he completes his mission he can get another diet coke.
After the mall, we went to the hotel and checked in. Curtis was so excited that he didn’t sleep well. Every hour, ON the hour, he woke me up to see if it is time to to get up. (He learned this hourly ritual from my mother, who used to beg him to let her sleep “just one more hour”.) I awoke at 7:30 to see him wide awake in the next bed, waiting for 8:00 am so he could wake me up and ask me if it is time to get up! I moved to get out of bed and my movement announced that it is time to get up. Curtis jumped up happily. He had all of his clothes on for the day. (He must have dressed during the night.)
After a quick breakfast of yogurt and bananas that I had brought, we drove the car to the parking garage for the Metro. This happens to be his favorite parking garage in the whole world: it has a spiral driveway all the way to the top. As we drove, we sang and sway back and forth. ”Around and around and around and around” all the way to the top floor. We then made our way onto the subway, which he also loves. He asked me where we were going, as I had kept it a surprise. Having recently lost his hearing completely, he does not yet understand that he cannot hear, so the conversation goes something like this:
C: “Where are we going?”
Me: “To see the dinosaurs.’
C: ”The aquarium?”
Me: ”No, the DINOSAURS!”
C: ”The movies?”
ME: ”NO THE DINOSAURS!!!!”
C: ”You’re taking me back home?” he said as his body melted in disappointment.
ME: ”NO!!! WE ARE GOING TO SEE THE DINOSAURS!!!”
Realizing I was not going to get anywhere with telling him, I grabbed a piece of paper and drew a large picture of what I think was a pretty good imitation of a dinosaur. ”Oh!” he said happily, “we’re going to see Fred Flintstone?” I sigh and shook my head yes…
I am the type of person who can sleep anywhere, any time. Exhausted after being woken up all night long, I curled out across 3 seats in the back of the subway car, and Angel and Curtis sat across from me. It is about an hour’s ride into the city and I asked Angel to wake me up when we got closer to the city and it started to get crowded. I was sure people would NOT appreciate me taking up 3 seats. I fell fast asleep. I woke up only when Angel was tugging on my sleeve because we were at our stop. I was MORTIFIED! I looked like a homeless person! I have “bed head” and drool coming down the side of my mouth. The subway car is full of people, many people standing up. ”I told you to WAKE me,” I reprimanded him. At least it sounded like I was scolding him for the sake of the people standing up. Secretly, I was grateful I was able to get an hour’s sleep in.
We had to change from the Red Line to the Green Line. The seats in the car we entered were completely full, so Angel and I each grabbed a vertical pole and Curtis grabbed the horizontal pole above him and was kind of hanging like a monkey. Angel and I put our arms around his waist to steady him. The car swayed back and forth and we swayed back and forth. Curtis thought our fingers were tickling him on purpose, so he started to laugh. Angel and I started to laugh, and pretty soon the 3 of us were laughing hysterically. Several of the passengers offered their seats as they could tell our predicament was precarious. ”No, thank you,” I said, “We are the adventuresome type.”
When we get to the museum, Angel, true to his nature, went to check out the museum store. (One of his female “peeps” is a shopaholic who believes in the “shop til you drop” motto.) Curtis, true to HIS nature, wanted to eat first. It’s not so much that he wanted to eat as he wanted to get a soda. He is obsessed with soda. We went through the cafeteria line and he picked out macaroni and cheese and I picked out a chicken caesar salad. With him hanging on my arm, we payed and I looked for a seat. It was very very crowded. I was trying to do sighted guide technique with him on one arm, carrying the tray with the other, and steering him towards the one empty table I saw all the way across the room. He spotted the sign for Diet Coke. He wouldn’t move, just pointed at the sign. I tried to tell him that first we needed to get a seat, that I couldn’t possibly stop for soda with a tray full of food and him on my arm, but of course he couldn’t hear me. He continues to point at the Diet Coke sign like ET pointed to home. He kept trying to drag me closer to the soda machine and I pulled him towards the table. The tray of food was unbalanced, and I was afraid our $35 lunch was going to drop on the floor, or, worst yet, on top of the head of one of the many children in strollers nearby. Finally I won the tug of war and we reached the empty table where I plopped the tray down, grabbed the soda cups and headed with him back in the direction of his beloved soda. His face immediately burst into a smile as he realized what we were doing. He was a happy camper!
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the museum. The dinosaurs were big enough for him to see, and he really enjoyed them, although he did keep asking where Fred Flintstone was. (The Flintstones were our favorite cartoon when we were growing up. Every Friday night. Channel 6. 8:00 pm.) When we finished with the exhibits, Curtis bought another soda “for the ride home” . He perked up again when we got to the parking garage and had to go “around and around and around and around” in the car to get out.
Bringing him back to the group home was uneventful. When the staff asked how his weekend was, he answered “GREAT! I had diet coke and we got to drive around and around in circles.” He didn’t even mention the hotel or the mall or the subway or the dinosaurs. The next time I take him, I think I’ll save the money and just park at the Metro parking garage and buy him all the diet cokes he wants. It would sure save me money, (and anyone who has read my blog before KNOWS that I like to save money!)