First off- want to apologize- I've been slacking on the blog lately, especially the pictures. Life has been every bit of wonderful, but busy lately. I assure you more pictures will come- I just have gotten out of the habit of having my camera by my side the last few weeks.
Yesterday, I got a chance to give my mom her first guitar lesson. Many of you know my mom, or have heard me talk about her at some point. She's my hero. Plain and simple. In some way or another, I almost always mention her in any essay I have composed since high school- to include college essays, personal statements, etc. She has been a huge inspiration for much of what I do in my life. I guess it has to do with the hurdles she has and continues to overcome in her life. My mom came down with spinal meningitis when she was less than two years old. The treatment she was given worsened her condition and caused her to lose her hearing in both ears.
As a kid growing up, I didn't understand the depth of her hearing loss until I went with her to an audiology appointment. It was here that I developed an even greater respect and understanding of the hardships and hurdles my mom is faced with still, as a 61 year old woman. She was put into a sound-proof box and asked to press a button when she could hear something. As they raised the volume, it felt like minutes, although probably only a few seconds until she pressed the button. I asked the doctor what an equivalent sound would be to what my mom had heard. She turned to look at me and said, "It was the sound of a Boeing 747 Jet engine at full blast next to your mother's ear". This changed my perspective, just a bit.
Growing up, my mom's parents never taught her sign language- not wanting her to be limited by the resources available to the deaf community. She learned to read lips and relies on this as her sole means of communication today. As a child, she saw a speech therapist every week, many times more than a couple of times a week, until she was 18. She applied to 18 nursing schools and was rejected at every one. She went on to become an Occupational Therapist and has been licensed and practicing in the field for over 30 years.
My mother is tough to say the least- a quality I admire in her. She won't take no for an answer and is always up for a new challenge, despite what the odds may be. I joke around saying that one day I want to write a book to tell her story. Growing up, my mother always told me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. She provided a constant source of encouragement and inspiration in my life. Her life has not been easy and every day she continues to face discrimination and hardship because of her hearing loss. But this hasn't stopped her from reaching out to those in need.
Much of my desire to serve the under-served and the most vulnerable in our society comes from my mom's commitment to caring for the needy.
The summer I turned 12, my mom made me ride my bike five days a week to volunteer at a place called the Virginia Home. It was here that my passion for the "least of these" began. The Virginia Home is a home in Richmond for mentally and physically challenged adults. Many of the adults living at the home have CP, MS, spinal cord or brain injuries, along with other challenges that create barriers for them to live on their own.
I am forever grateful for the many lessons I learned the first and subsequent summers I would volunteer here. I still occasionally go back to visit some of the residents I first met over thirteen years ago.
Enough about me. My mom has been asking me for some time to give her a guitar lesson. I left an old classical guitar at my folk's house that she has been playing around with for a couple of months. I am always amazed at the projects or goals she takes on. A couple summers back, we took an introductory Spanish class together, because she wanted to be able to better communicate with the folks she was visiting in a Peruvian community her and my dad would be visiting that next fall.
I only taught her three chords on the guitar, but she did great. I'm looking forward to teaching her more, and hopefully next time, if I remember, I'll get a picture of us playing together. We're learning "I'll fly Away"- one of my favorite songs to play.
Until next time folks.