Some moments stay with you...

People often said that she was a beautiful child.

She had the face of an angel, with long, dark hair that hung about her face and blue eyes speckled with gold flecks – like her mother’s.

They couldn’t know from looking at her that her world was mostly silent. When she turned and faced people the hearing aide in her pocket attached by a long wire to her ear was a dead giveaway.

In the early 60’s they didn’t know what to do with a child who suffered from hearing loss. In McLean, they shuffled her from special education rooms, to handicapped classrooms, to special schools for the handicapped. Finally, in a small town in Pennsylvania, they included my sister in a regular classroom. (Long before it was fashionable or acceptable.)

After numerous trips to many doctors and specialists, my parents were resigned to the fact that K. was totally deaf in one ear, and partially deaf in one ear. Many things were tried in her early years to help her, but in the end she learned to live with one hearing aid, an amazing ability to read lips, and two annoying siblings who treated her as any other sibling would. Like crap. (As it should be.)

As a teenager, I would sneak into the house late at night when the house was quiet, and on occasion I would stumble upon my mother sitting in the dark on the long stairway leading up to the second floor. The martinis at cocktail hour had made her weepy, and she would hug me and release her feelings of guilt about my sister’s deafness.

“If only I hadn’t had German measles. I will always blame myself.” And her voice would catch in a sob as she would pull me close and cry quietly.

I will never forget those heartbreaking moments.

I was preparing to teach school one morning, a little over ten years ago, when my phone rang. It was 7:30, and I knew it exactly who it was. We spoke every morning, and I thought nothing of it.

“Hello! I am leaving for work in ONE minute – what’s up???” I yelled into the phone.

“D. You are not going to believe this. I got my new hearing aides – you know, the two that the doctor said would probably help me? Well, I put them in, and guess what? Guess What??

I heard the birds. I have never heard birds before. And the crickets! THE CRICKETS! Oh My God. And the backhoe up the street! I heard the backhoe! Can you believe it? Are you there? HELLO?”

Oh, I was there all right.

I was there.

The tears pouring from my eyes and the joy I felt in my heart was almost too much to describe.

And at that moment, I saw the mother sitting on the stairs, smiling down upon her precious, precious girl. And I knew that she was finally at peace.


Brian Miller said...

yeah thanks for spreading those tears around now...beautiful moments VM...

Sharon Rose said...

Amazing how we take for granted such an incredible gift!

Unknown said...

Love this.

Love, love, *sniff* love this.

MahoneyMusings said...


Crying like a big baby here. Beautiful.

Mimi Lenox said...

And now the tears are streaming down my face. What a beautiful post.
"I have never heard birds before.."
and I was a complete mess.

Cat Connor said...

You almost had me crying with this post... almost. (ALMOST -I'm quite the hard old bitch these days, lol)

It must be so amazing to hear after never having heard.

Cat x

anymommy said...

Sheesh, really? You want to make me cry like that on a holiday?

Beautiful. I love the look back at your mother. I see my mom and the things she did in an entirely different light as I raise my own children.

Just Two Chicks said...

Love it!

J.J. in L.A. said...

What an awesome story! Although, it's sad that your mom thought it was her fault. I try to make sure that my mom knows my disability is not due to anything she did...or didn't do.

And I laughed at "and two annoying siblings who treated her as any other sibling would. Like crap. (As it should be.)" Now that's love!

Joanie said...

What a wonderful story!!!

Joanie said...

OMG!!! OMG!!! I was FIRST!!!!! I was never FIRST before!!!!

I wanted to say your story reminded me of the time when my sister got glasses for the first time, back in the 60s. She didn't know trees has individual leaves.... she thought they really were like the big green ball on top of the brown tree trunk... the kind we drew as kids (and I still do because I can draw to save my life)!!

TC said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. To hear the backhoe and be grateful, bless you and your sis...

noexcuses said...

Wow! What an amazing story! I'm so happy for you, your sister, and your mom! Technology has really come a long way...just not soon enough for some!

Thanks for sharing such a personal side of yourself. I really enjoyed this post.

Paige said...

Now that is cool.

Nisha said...

Its amazing what we take for granted.In summer we curse the crickets for chirping so loudly, or the morning birds for their song- disturbing our sleep in, or the neighbours lawn mower...

My friends 3yo recently got her hearing aids and spent a day staring up at the trees in their yard because it was the first time she'd heard the wind rustle through the leaves.
Magic moments indeed.

Anne said...

Sisterly love! I've got one... and now as a mom to three girls it is the thing that can warm my heart to the core... when they are not driving each other crazy... there is love. My middle girl is the spec. ed. kid in the regular ed room. As crazy as she drives her sisters sometimes... their love and protection of her goes deep!

Anne said...

Just re-looked at the picture... aside from the black & white... a 2010 version of you sister would be ANY normal kid with her iPod in her pocket. She was just WAY ahead of her times. :-)

Unknown said...

You put a smile on my face! To hear the birds and the backhoe....must've been indescribable! Loved this!

Akum said...

That really must have been one of those moments that your cherish for a lifetime. This post is really inspiring and heart touching. Thanks for sharing!

hilary said...

How wonderful! I have tears in my eyes!

Michele said...

Our son was intermittently (sometimes he could hear but most times not) deaf for several years. The day after he had surgery he jumped a mile in the air when he heard the refrigerator run. Those common sound that we take for granted are a wonder to them.

WeaselMomma said...

Technology is such an amazing thing.

Gigi said...

That was simply beautiful. There are no other words.

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Where are all the comments?????? Thanks to all of you who have already commented.

I love it when EBlogger @)$*$'s with me.

Anonymous said...

Oh... I'm with you sitting there and crying a little!! That's wonderfully written!


Cheryl said...

I can't begin to imagine her joy and yours. I cannot imagine waking up and not being able to hear birds. To hear them for the very first time had to be nothing short of orgasmic.

Joanie said...

Hey!!! I left 2 replies last night! Where did they go?

BLOGitse said...

Beautiful, touching post,
thanks for sharing!


Lucia said...

OMG, I'm crying, I'm so happy for her!

Teresa Dawn said...

What a great story. And such a pretty young girl :)

jessicamae3 said...

Sigh....excellently expressed and what joy she must have felt at that moment!!!!!

Sprite's Keeper said...

Wow, what a beauty! (I remember you telling me this story. I cried then too.)

Ellie Belen Ambrose said...

Yeah Sis! The awe and wonder she will be experiencing, I am so happy for her and for your mom.

My favorite sound is when the wind blows and you hear the rustle of leaves in the trees.

My father refuses to wear his new hearing aids. The noise of the world is too much for him, pity.

Jayne Neverow said...

So moving. Glad you shared this. Thank you.

Elenka said...

Say howdy to her...in a normal tone of voice.
Things we take for granted.....

Notes From ABroad said...

This is such a wonderful, full of love story and I am sitting here weeping like a baby.
My husband is sure I am crazy.

love you, love your sister.. C

Anonymous said...

Im sobbing like a little woman....this was so touching....beautiful!

SkylersDad said...

This is such a wonderful post, I love you.

Thyra G said...

Thanks for this...

Fragrant Liar said...

Incredible. Stories like this make me stop and imagine what it would be like to be unable to hear anything, like the voices of my kids calling out, "Mom! Stop embarrassing me!"

Yes, the things we take for granted...

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Well you've done it; made me cry. And in this heat? The nerve.
My youngest was born hearing impaired and we didn't know till she was over 2. When she got her aids she ran all over yelling "I hear sum-ting!" It was amazing. So I'm so happy for your sister. And your memory of your beautiful mother.

Anonymous said...

Goosebumps! Thanks for sharing!

Missy said...

WoW! Amazing story!

Joanna Jenkins said...

I have a lump in my throat-- What a fabulous story.

Danielle Smith said...

I just barely kept my tears from spilling....what a truly beautiful story. Just lovely.

Vodka Mom said...

Sorry people, but blogger is messing with me and many comments aren't appearing. YIKES!!!!!

SheilaC said...

wOw.... this post gave me chills...

And how amazing for your sister!


only a movie said...

What a beautiful story. xo
My nephew is Deaf, and it is so exciting when he gets new, better technology, hearing aids.

Dawn said...

As I sit here teary eyed, I thank the good Lord. We all take SO much for granted!
Thank you for sharing your story!

metalmom said...

Absolutely beautiful.

tracey.becker1@gmail.com said...

Such a happy post!

Anonymous said...

man...you are making me cry!!! your momma was an amazing women and so are you and K. i can just picture that beautiful women looking down on K smiling! ♥

R. J. said...

Wow, your poignant posts are outstanding. Awesome!

Missy said...

Wow. Just wow. Your love for your sis is awesome. I too have a profound hearing loss. Like your sis, completely deaf in one ear and wear a hearing aid in the other. It's a hard life. Indeed I'm thankful to have what I have, but deafness is an invisible challenge. (I won't call it a disability!) Unless I've shared with you that I wear a hearing aid, you will probably think I'm a blonde that colors my hair brown. If (IF) I know you're talking to me, we're cool. Reading lips is sooo helpful. But if you just start chatting me up, especially from another room or behind me, you'll think I'm an ice queen. Kudos to you for telling your sister's story. Tell her I said she's blessed.

Bodaciousboomer said...

Wow. That was quite a story. I'm glad I stopped by. Our son had a stroke when he was 2 yrs.old. It was a long road for him too. Years and years of therapy 5 days a week 2x a day. Stories like the one you wrote and what Brett went through should remind us all to be really grateful if our children are healthy. Everything else is just gravy.

http://howtobecomeacatladywithoutthecats.blogspot.com said...

What a beautiful gift! Life is good!

cozmikgrl38 said...

Aww!! Soo happy for her! I shared in your tears as well. How awesome technology is.

Alexandra said...

That is why I love the "You might like"s at the end of your posts.

Because, I always "you might like."

This here? My first tears of the day. Your mother, and the graphic of her sitting on a martini evening, way back when when things weren't understood... too too much.

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