Friday, August 6, 2010


My mom has never signed with my son. It would be easy to judge her. You may wonder why she never bothered to learn ASL. Well I can't judge her just as I can't control how my son feels about it.

When my son was born we were mourning the recent sudden lose of my father. My father would have been over the moon to meet Haddy. He would have made him handcrafted wooden toys and spent countless hours teaching him how to build wood Calkins Craft boats and the true art of fishing. Language would of never been a problem. The fact was my dad was dead and my son was Deaf.

My mom had a rough time. She was trying to be a fabulous grandma but her lose was so huge. She signed up for ASL classes. She couldn't gather the energy to go. Time passed slowly for her and her breast cancer came back. We lived far away and our journey was just a footnote to hers.

We recently found out she suffers from hydrocephalus. She has water on the brain. This has caused a rapid mental and physical decline. Such is life. She has lost her home, belongings and many friends. Her way of life has been stolen from her. She hasn't lost us however. We manage her daily affairs and look after her. We help her stay connected to those who stand by. We search for a place for her to live and recover.

She had surgery and may improve.

Today I saw a bit of hope.

My son came with me to visit her.

He is not happy to be assigned this task.

For me it is always a moment well spent, for him it is a confusing reminder that those we call family are not obligated to offer unconditional love.

We arrive and my mother, who has lived such a pained life, starts to sign. Her weakened mind and body can't offer perfect handshapes. Somehow over the years she has been trying to learn, trying to connect. She has been to shy to try. Now she has lost her dignity and with that is willing to try a handshape even if it is wrong.

As we leave I ask my kids what they think of her new home. My son tells me he likes it. It is not depressing like the countless other places she has resided in. He tells me he wants to visit her soon.


  1. oh u made me cry

    thank u for sharing this

    reminded me of sitting at my mother-in-laws hospice bedside - she was too weak to write down some of her memories in a book for her daughter so i offered to scribe it. it was slow going as i couldnt catch everything she was saying. At one point she tried to fingerspell and smiled and winked - "see, patti, we will get me to sign yet!"

    bitter sweet

    thank u again

    will keep ur mom in my prayers



  2. Me too (crying). I'll also keep your mom in my heart and mind and wish her well.

  3. My mother made just one sign in her whole life...she held up a weak ILY hand as we left her hospital room. An hour later the hospital called to inform that she had passed on.

  4. I'm with both of the comments, I'm crying as well!

    What a powerful and profound ending to your experience...

    I can relate to a parent not willing to learn ASL It is, speaking from experience, painful and impossible to fathom why the need for the rejection itself? Nonetheless, the experience with your Mom signing and endeavoring to reach out to Hayden just broke my heart!

    This must not be easy for you and the kids - I wish you're mom well too! You're with me in my thoughts and heart!

  5. Warmest thanks. Funny how family is right, wrong, indifferent but always family.