…. let me give you a little background. I was born in Iowa in 1967. Born before the days of CDs, DVDs, personally owned computers, cell phones, etc. When we played, we went outdoors. We climbed trees, worked in the garden with our parents, sewed our own clothes, canned our own food for winter preservation, and didn’t even think about skipping school, for fear of our backsides. We were never vaccinated for anything, and built our immune system the natural way. For that, I’m quite thankful. (Don’t get me started on the ills of modern-day vaccines. You don’t want to hear it.)
My parents instilled loving discipline, and weren’t afraid to administer it if needed (and believe me, as a strong-willed, determined child, it was needed more times than I care to remember). 8-tracks and cassette-wielding walkmans were the up-and-coming technology as I grew. We didn’t even own a TV or a VCR, and every one of us have a healthy and enjoyable respect for reading. The library was our friend.
I was the youngest of four children, with two older brothers and an older sister. My siblings will tell you I was spoiled, but I didn’t think so. The rules and regulations of the household put a well-deserved restraint on my wanton independence. As an adult, I asked my mother at one point, “How did you put up with me as a teenager?” She simply replied, “On my knees, honey. On my knees.” Yep. That about sums it up. I was a determined little stinker, and my parents were praying people.
There were some summers my bike sat in the garage without being used, as punishment for not obeying my parents on where I could ride it. Once I got it back – after the allotted punishment expired – I’d hop right on it and ride it wherever I very well pleased. Back it would go into the garage. One day, I was riding on a street that was off-limits and hit a patch of sand and dirt along the curb, skidding several feet and tearing up my left knee. Mom had to be called home from work, and she wasn’t happy. I still bear the scar on my knee to this day. Sometimes, when Mom was at her wit’s end with any of us kids, she’d say, “You wait until your dad gets home.” It wasn’t an empty threat. They definitely supported each other, and followed through. When Dad got home and was told of our uncontrolled little rebellions, discipline followed. It was never done in anger nor in haste, and every time we got got the switch, we knew exactly why we deserved it. For that, I am also thankful. (And…don’t get me started on today’s undisciplined kids, and how they’re turning out. Any argument on that score will get you nowhere with me!)
Growing up, we only moved a couple of times, and never off the same street. My dad pastored a church, and we were always living close by the church, and at one point, even lived in the basement of said church. This is where my family lived when I was born, and we stayed there until I was about 6 or 7 years old, before moving about a mile up the street.
I attended an elementary school that was the only school in our county with a program for deaf children. When I was eight and in third grade, I noticed a group of children laughing, conversing and carrying on, but no sound came out of their mouths. Their hands were flying at a fast-paced clip, and they seemed to be communicating with each other by gesturing. They also wore large beige-colored boxes strapped to their chests, with twisted cords leading to ear molds placed firmly in their ears. This intrigued me greatly. (This was long before the days of discretely-sized hearing aids and cochlear implants.) I asked my third-grade teacher about these “unusual” children with their “unusual” behavior. She told me that these children could not hear, that those boxes amplified sound, and that those “gestures” were actually a fully-developed language with which they communicated. That was it. I was sold. I told her in no uncertain terms, that I wanted to learn that language! She informed me that every Monday after school, I could go up to the “deaf” room and meet with the deaf students and learn their language. As a child with insatiable curiosity and determination, there would be nothing stopping me. I began attending after-school sessions every Monday, from that point forward. Those “unusual” deaf children soon became my normal, everyday friends. I learned their language quickly and fluently. We grew up together, and as I worked my way through school, most of my friends were deaf/hard-of-hearing [DHH].
When it came time to attend high school, we were living in an area where I was to be registered at a different high school than all my DHH buddies. It was another high school in town which had the DHH program, and I was to be separated from all my friends! That would not do! I approached the subject with my parents, and in support of me, they approached the school board and went through all the red tape required to get me transferred to the high school that had the deaf program. I was in! Although I lived outside that high school’s parameters, I’d walk the 3 miles each way to school, until I was old enough to drive and got my first car. I ended up graduating with all of my DHH friends, many of whom are still my friends to this day.
Long story, short, that lucky curiosity as an 8-year-old little girl, thrust me into the career I have today. I am now a certified sign language interpreter and working as both an employee of a community interpreting agency in town and as a video relay interpreter for another company in another town. It keeps me busy, but I LOVE MY JOB! They say that if you love your job, you’ll never “work” a day in your life. Such is the case with me. I look forward to going to all my assignments, regardless of long commutes at times. I don’t regret it a bit.
There’s so much more to tell about my life, but there you have it in a nutshell. But I’ve written enough today. Thanks for your patience, and I hope you sign up to follow me and subscribe to this blog. Not that I’m anyone important…I’m just me. But I’d be honored if you’d say you’re interested. 🙂