Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Child Who Changed My Life

  When I was a child I was sent to the Stanford Convalescent Home because of my severe, chronic asthma. The first week all new patients were assigned to the unit for babies, preschoolers, and bedridden kids. In that unit I met an adorable three year old girl named Gladys. The other new kids would grab my arm and pull me away when I tried to talk to her, crying out, "No! Don't talk to her! She's deaf!" But Gladys and I communicated with gestures and facial expressions. For example, she asked me why she had no fingers on one hand and I replied that I didn't know. 
       I only knew that child for one week, but I'll never be the same because of her. If we hadn't met, while in high school I might never have volunteered with kids who had special needs and spent most of my time with a boy who was deaf. Later I might never have learned American Sign Language, gone to work at California School for the Deaf, married a Sign Language interpreter, raised deaf foster sons, or interpreted in churches. 
       I would love to know what happened to Gladys. I never knew her last name, but she had naturally curly hair and big blue eyes and she would be in her late 50s now. I don't know if she ever learned Sign Language and become part of the Deaf community or not. If anyone who reads this knows what happened to her, please tell me, because I'd love to let her know how she changed my life. 

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