My mother was born deaf
to hearing parents. They didn't know until she was five that she was deaf. She married a hearing man, and had two hearing children. Her deafness was her defining characteristic
, although now that she's dead, I realize it never should have been. Not in a "Oh I so regret my life now that my mother has passed" way, more like, we were all blinded
by it, fooled into thinking that we had some fathom of what it was like to be her simply by living with her. Like watching the frustration, the suicide
attempts, listening to people say things like "No child of a deaf woman could be that smart."
and then watching her fade away with a brain tumor gave us any idea. Sheer arrogance
from those like my evil grandmother of thank you note
fame who told my mother as a child "You can't do that
, you're deaf." or like myself who suffered through my mother's naivete
bolstered by the sympathy and notoriety that having a handicapped parent provided me.
I'm sitting here in the dark listening to my stereo and realizing that the comfort I get from it through the insomnia
was something she never experienced. Her generation was punished for using sign language
, taught they had to speak to survive, to fit in. There's a movement against this sort of education in the deaf community, now, but not then. Instead, mom made us sit through every movie with a deaf person in it from Children of a Lesser God to See No Evil, Hear No Evil, in the hopes that we would glean something. I don't think I did.
addressed the parents of deaf children, including my mother's parents, divorcing after they learned of mom's handicap, unable to assign blame. She said that given a choice
, she'd rather be blind. My grandmother forever hated her after that one.
My mother got a college degree. Was a great cook. Owned a business. Managed to ask me about my love life
three days after brain surgery. Drove me crazy on a regular basis. Was chronically depressed
. Occasionally abusive
. These things I understand.
And she was deaf. That one remains elusive