My daughter asks lots of questions about death and what’s real and what’s not. She’s nearly 9 (wtf?!) and I’m not totally sure what her fascination is with death. I think it’s just a phase kids go through. She has seen pets die, she has heard stories of family that is no longer with us… it’s pretty natural.
Since going back to work, I feel a few ghosts around me from time to time. Mostly my dad. I anticipated this when I started working again because he’s the reason I became an interpreter. He encouraged me and he encouraged my stepmonster to encourage me and what do ya know, it worked!
My signing has been dormant for a decade and unraveling the vocabulary has also brought constant thought about my dad and his family to the forefront of my brain. My dad died in 2001, so it’s been a minute – as they say. But as anyone who has experienced grief can tell you, that eighteen years can seem like a thousand and also just a minute.
Recently I started my own Signing Class. It’s informal, it’s free, it’s just for the community. There seemed to be a need and a want, so I said Yes. Yes is not a word that comes easily to this face. I don’t like commitment. I almost immediately regret commitment the minute that Yes falls out of my mouth. I don’t know why, other than people relying on me makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like schedules, I like having options and being sort of a free spirit. Expectations can be dangerous.
Regardless, I already said Yes, so now here I am. A bunch of people looking to me for direction on how to start communicating with the Deaf.
It really is amazing. We’ve only had one meeting, so it’s easy to say it’s a great group and it’s going swimmingly and we are all enthusiastic.
I can’t help but think my dad would love it. He was a casual signer, despite being married to a super rockstar in the Interpreting world. My stepmom was a CODA. (child of deaf adults) She was the only hearing person in her family, including brothers and sisters. She was a unique woman. Very intense. Larger than life, physically and in character. She was a freelance interpreter and also the interpreting coordinator for the community college she taught beginning ASL at … the class that my father took, how they met and later married. The class they encouraged me to try out, and I stuck with and finished the program.
My childhood is peppered with few memories of time with my dad and stepmom. My dad was not Dad of the Year by any stretch. I know he loved me, but it wasn’t because he carved out every other weekend for me. A lot of those memories included signing. My Dad & Stepmom loved the Renaissance Faire. She interpreted Shakespeare every summer there…. talk about a challenge! I think that qualifies as three languages at once. Fight me on that.
If they were around now I don’t know that I’d be doing what I’m doing. I’m pretty easily squashed when it comes to stepping into my own light. Somehow that wonder I always felt about my stepmom and what she could do with her hands causes me to feel intimidated whenever I’m around another interpreter. I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish my ability was strong enough for me to feel confident. … but that’s another post.
I am sad at how things seemed to end up with my stepmom and the fact I had no idea she became bitter and hurt because of me – according to her daughter. I don’t know how much I believe, because I have to consider the source. A daughter facing the mortality of her mother. I was told in no uncertain terms I was the reason for the heart break and to never contact that family again.
I know that I did nothing wrong, it’s messy. Now feeling so happy and content and simultaneously slightly terrified at all the things I’m doing with work and class leaves me hoping both of them are somehow still proud of me.
I miss my dad so much. My hope is that I can enjoy the ghost of his smile, and not have it derail my emotions when I’m not expecting it. … this got muddled real quick, so I apologize. Family has a fun way of constantly interrupting the twenty minutes of clear thought I get to experience once every three weeks or so.