The deaf kids

I was one of the deaf kids.  I always kind of felt separated from my so-called peers.  I’d look up and people would be staring at me and laughing and I would have no idea why.

I’d go to use the bathroom and the other girls would circle around the stall I was in and chant, “stare, stare, I don’t care, you’ve got dirty underwear”.

Did they say this because I was staring because I had to read lips?

I think because I couldn’t hear people and I had to read lips, people thought I was staring at them and also kind of stupid because I wouldn’t always understand what they were saying.

Needless to say, childhood, being “mainstreamed” was kind of hellish for me.

I had to go to speech therapy for a long time.  I think I was in fifth or sixth grade before it was decided that I could speak well enough to get along.  I had particular trouble with the letter, “S”.

Once or twice a year, for reasons I didn’t know at the time, my parents would load me in a car.  We’d go someplace, sometimes a house, sometimes a school cafeteria, sometimes a restaurant.  What I remember about these times is relief.  I was surrounded by other deaf kids.  Other kids who knew what my life was.  Matthew.  Shelley.  Robbie.  Others whose names I do not remember.

Those were times I cherished.  Times when I wasn’t on the outside.  Times when I was just as good as everybody else.  Times when I wasn’t ridiculed for not being able to hear.

I miss those kids.  I lost contact with them.  This makes me sad.

I am sure that those nights, what I thought was just play-times with other deaf kids, was probably a support group for parents of deaf kids.

I remember there was an auction one year, and my family donated a lot of things to the auction.  I don’t know what the auction was benefitting.

I am so glad my parents took part in whatever group this was, just because it gave me the chance to interact with other kids who were like me.

I think I am a better person for my hearing issues, but yes, I’d love for it to go away.

I want to reconnect with the other deaf kids who were part of that group, but I have no idea how.

I limp along in my life today, and the hearing continues to be a detriment.  One day.  One day, I hope this can change.






To the “little” heroes

This is all about the unsung heroes.  The ones who do the small things that change lives, with no expectation of repayment.

When I was nineteen, I was in a far-away town, going to college, driving an old rickety car.  I was pulled over one day by a police officer.

“What’s wrong, officer?”
“You have no brake lights.”
“oh, gosh, that’s dangerous.”
“Pull over into this parking lot.” 

So, I pulled into this parking lot and he followed behind me.  “It’s probably a fuse. The fuse block is located here.”  points to the area below my steering column.

Sure enough, it was a fuse.  He could have given me a ticket.  Instead he chose to help me.  This would have been in Winona, Minnesota in 1987 or 1988.  I still remember this small act of kindness.  Wherever he is, I want to thank him.

One of the “little” heroes.  He didn’t have to help me.  He didn’t have to tell me about car fuses.  It took him about ten minutes out of his day.  But he showed a stranger a small kindness.

Also in the same general time-period, perhaps a little later, 1988 or 1989, I was newly married, also in Winona, Minnesota.  I was not mechanically savvy, and my husband, less so.  We lived in a little trailer on the outskirts of town, we had paid 2500 for it, fully furnished, and it was a wedding gift from his mother.  We were dirt poor.  One day in the middle of winter, the furnace wouldn’t work.  I happened to be at a friend’s house babysitting.  Brian called me at Tammy’s house.

“the furnace is dead, there is no heat.  Stay there for tonight.”  

I drive there in the morning.  He’s sleeping in the kitchen using the oven for heat.  We scrape together all the spare change and cash we have.  We come up with about $30.00.  He has to go to work.  He tells me to go and buy a space heater.

I go to the hardware store.  Not knowing anything about electricity, I buy the best space heater $30.00 would buy.  (hey, it was thirty years ago, almost!)

I get home.  Take the space heater out of the box.  It’s got a weird plug on it, and I can’t plug it into any of our outlets!  (wrong voltage, I’m imagining).

I take it back to the hardware store in tears.  But I know nothing about electricity, so I can’t figure out what space heater I need, or what to do.  I was pacing the aisles and crying for probably a half hour or so.

“Ma’am?  What’s wrong?”

I blurted out my situation.

“hang on, I get off work in an hour, I’ll come over.”

He came to our trailer, with an electrical meter, and figured out our furnace problem, and asked NOTHING in exchange.  Just a thank-you and a hug, was all he wanted.

He was a “little” hero.  He didn’t donate tons of money, he didn’t give his life.  He gave an hour of his day to a stranger who had no means to pay him back.

A few years later.  I was a second year steamfitter apprentice.  My car wouldn’t start.  It was towed to a garage, I hesitate to say which one, in case I get somebody in trouble.  But it was a large-ish garage on the far east side of Madison, Wisconsin.  The mechanic, a younger man, recognized that I was desperate, and couldn’t afford to pay much money, took me aside, gave me a great big long screwdriver, and showed me how to jumper the starter solenoid, so I could start the car.

“Just bring it back here for me to fix when you can afford it.”

For six months or better I was starting that car with that screwdriver.

Another “little” hero.

To all of you, I hope this goes viral (it probably won’t since not many people follow this blog), but if you see this and recognize yourself……


Twenty, twenty-five years later, I still remember that little kindness you showed me.