Shall I Say a Kiss? Preface continued...
banner Our family signed up for telephone service in 1956. Before that, we would use the phone of a neighbor across the hallway if we needed to make an important call. A new responsibility was added to my list, since now I had to make all the phone calls that heretofore other people had placed for my parents. My father would dictate the script and stand in front of me to read my lips and ensure that I repeated his words exactly.

I remember the last time I had to interpret for my father. It was at a union hearing before an arbitration panel to present my father's case for some allegedly unjustified vacation days he had taken. There was some dispute as to whether he was entitled to the time off and vacation pay. I was a man, by then, and for the first time felt like one as I translated his words. My father was as persuasive and as long-winded in presenting his case as he had been in his letters. The panel ruled in his favor. We had been a team, and a successful one.

I can't recall my parents ever complaining about their deafness. To them it was a fact of life, like eating or breathing. They were simply healthy, intelligent human beings who did not have the function of hearing. Their lives were full but had one quality different from hearing people. Their existence was a deaf world, encircled by the hearing one, and I grew up in that deaf world, but I left it behind when I became an adult.

And now this fortuitous discovery of long-forgotten letters gives me a welcome opportunity to see my mother and father in a new way.

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