Today I read the inspiring words at the left posted on facebook by Kathleen Reeser Hill. How true are these words! I read it over and over again thinking of our daughter, Nicole, and the persecution she faced in growing up, especially during her middle school years. I would like to share a little of Her Story.
When Nicole was born on March 28, 1981, I was overjoyed for I so much wanted a daughter. A son had already blessed our family two years earlier but two miscarriages destined us to seemingly having only the one child.
When the miracle happened, never did I envision how the new life set before me would be the beginning of overwhelming challenges for both of us. Hers was not an easy birth and she entered the world at 9 lbs 13 ozs already with determination written all over her face. She was not one of these babies born with a headfull of hair but only a tiny tuff on the top of her head. I was so excited wanting everyone to know the long awaited daughter had finally arrived that I scotch taped a tiny pink ribbon to that tiny tuff!
Being around the children more than their father placed me in the situation where I almost felt like their only caretaker and sometimes instances would go unnoticed, not from neglect by any means, but simply from being a working Mother and trying to keep the household together. It was on a weekend when my parents were visiting that my dad questioned whether Nicole could hear. She was eighteen months old, and that day was the beginning of a totally unforeseen ending ahead…
A trip to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL and many tests, tests, tests later confirmed that she was 80% deaf. The doctor was so rude he told us she would never hear well enough to amount to anything in society. Then, to top that off her father insisted she could NOT be his child because she was ‘imperfect’. Can you imagine what went through my heart, mind and soul on that day?!. This was our daughter, a gift from God!
The next couple of years were unimaginable. She was easily agitated, totally frustrated as she tried to understand the world around her and communicate her wants, needs and feelings. Temper tantrums would result in such unruliness that her father would walk out demanding, “That is YOUR daughter, YOU deal with it!” A lot transpired within that time span which led to. . .well, doing exactly that, I dealt with it…without him. He came home one too many times to a dinner table set for four to only brush us aside and say HE was going out for dinner.
The kids and I moved out and on. Then, I met Jim who was soon to become the Dad she had never had: The man in her life that would not give in nor give up on her, the one who would work with her day in, day out making sure she listened. Yes! I do mean listen. She was first aided with over the ear hearing aids connected to chest packs that brought her hearing within 80% capacity. Remember, in the beginning, she was diagnosed as 80% deaf which allowed for only 20% hearing. [I can recall the embroidered designs on little vest pockets where ‘eyes’ of various animals became the holes for the microphones of the hearing aids. These have long been replaced with ones so tiny you don’t even notice she is wearing them.]
There are stories upon stories about her hearing aids – the time she became so frustrated she buried them in the sandbox at daycare, the time they were retrieved from the garbage can, the time the dog chewed them up, the numerous times they just simply went missing, etc. Then, there was the turmoil that churned on the inside that she dealt with on a daily basis and the persecution beyond words from her peers whose cruelty was unfathomable. She excelled, however, at all grade levels even being admitted to an advanced program in high school only to forfeit that status in the second semester of her senior year in order to transfer to a different school.
None of that feigned her determination. She beat them all! She went on to receive her Associate’s Degree from Santa Fe Community College in Gainsville, FL, then on to the University of Florida (GO Gators!) where she received her BS Degree in Marketing. Now she is working on her Masters, but has ventured into Financial Analysis with aspirations of obtaining her Doctorate. And this is a child who was born 80% deaf, told by a doctor that she would never amount to anything, rejected by her father BUT has already accomplished more than most of her high school classmates! And, she will tell you very quickly she has the best Daddy in the whole world!
She is married and has two beautiful daughters, Natalie and Catalina, both of whom at birth passed Florida’s mandatory hearing test!
To Nicole and all those whose world might be on the quiet side. . .
A Silent World
I called and called your name
Why didn’t you answer?
You were so close—
A vision of loveliness
Your wonderful smile
Upon a laughing face
Concealed a lonely place—
A world of silence
Over and over the same refrain
Thinking I was just ignored
Irritated and exhausted—
A game of annoyance
Suddenly becoming perfectly clear
After I called louder and louder
Heartache and tears revealed—
A moment of sadness
Through the years of special care
Hours and hours, frustration and tears
Overjoyed with anticipation—
A day of hope
Confirmation finally came
No longer a silent world
You turned and smiled
When I called your name
When you call someone’s name
Why don’t they answer?
Think before you repeat
Theirs may be a silent world