Well, I went to Missouri and while there, my wonderful stepmother agreed to drive me to a town called Olathe in Kansas. That's where the Kansas School for the Deaf is and also, the Cultural Center.
I met author Shanna Groves there. She's the author of Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom and like me, she's hard of hearing. First of all, I was overwhelmed to the point I almost cried--in a good way. I discovered I'm not alone.
We talked about our hearing husbands and the trials that come from this clash of hearing/deaf partnership. We talked about family and how some folks push us to go..."get fixed". We discussed her anti-bullying campaign and when she told me she wanted to use me as an example in a video she's making, I was flustered to the point I was nearly speechless. I'm really not sure what finally came out of my mouth. One of those moments, you know?
A very wonderful tour guide walked us through the museum.
I saw photos of the Deaf school students in the 1800s learning how to cook, run printing presses, playing sports. There's a fake apartment to show hearing people how we live: the gadgets we use, the light we need. There's a video that explains in a clear and yet touching manner the difference btw hard of hearing and deaf and the cultures. There's an area dedicated to a Deaf painter who went to school there and after a really bad accident caused him to be paralyzed, he didn't let that stop him...No. Deafness never stopped him and this wasn't going to stop him either. He painted with his mouth!
The thing that amazed me most of all though: I actually understood everyone. The tour guide, my stepmum, my new friend Shanna, the lady who ran the museum. I was in a group of people and understood every word.
You know why? They cared. I realize now that I don't have to be lost and confused. I don't have to let people (yes, this includes family members!) talk over my head as though I'm not there. They CAN make the effort if they want to.
Whether you have a hearing "impaired" member in your family or not, make it a practice to speak clearly and enunciate. It's really not that hard.
This post..it really has no point. I just wanted to share a bit of myself with you. This day, this experience, this new friendship...was just something so wonderful that happened to me.
Thank you, Chuck (the wonderful tour guide) and Shanna Groves for a memory that I will always cherish.