Parents as Landscape

Growing up, my house had a quiet spot that surrounded my parents. Despite having two noisy brothers, and the occasional blaring radio or television, my mother and father generally presented an oasis of quietude. My mother's introversion and father's near-deafness allowed my brothers and I room to express ourselves (if not always get a response proportional to the kind of sometimes horrifically inappropriate things we often expressed). My father's near-deafness came as a result of meningitis he caught in Army boot camp in Alabama when he was training to be shipped off in the Korean War. Of course, my brothers and I were told that the howitzers caused this until he revealed his true condition (yes, the cannon roar WAS always a bit easier to share as a child).

It wasn't until recently that I contemplated just how difficult my father must have had it going through college before the American with Disabilities Act was passed. Dad not only went to multiple universities in pursuit of his degrees (Highlands University, St. Edward's, Baylor, and UT Austin), he did some of this coursework while starting a family with my Mom. I cannot even imagine how difficult his education would have been as a newly-deaf man in institutions that had little sympathy for disability and delivered information via lecture. Of course, as the perma-son, I failed to even contemplate this, much less communicate my awe, until after my father passed (and, yes, this haunts me).

Of course, my Mom is still alive, and I have to say that I'm pretty amazed at her educational tenacity too. As the oldest girl of six in a family with not even a history of high school completion, she went off and got both a B.A. and a Master's in Education. Her introversion, struggles in a society that didn't value women's education, and family history did not stop her from reaching her educational goals. She also worked on her education (as so many women do) with my brothers and I in tow. The four of us spent one summer in a one-room residence hall room with a hall bathroom, and another summer in a hall with a small kitchen and a bathroom. So much slipped by in parents' silence; however, their educational examples did not. Thanks Mom and Dad.