Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Jessica, honey..."

(I am finally having the courage to publish this. I probably would end up deleting this later...)

One night, I found myself being buried into a pile of paperwork from someone else's graduate school years. I poured over them for hours, in hopes I'd find something that may benefit me.

I encountered a printed post from a discussion board about Erikson's eight stages of development. Apparently, it was a family development assessment. I will copy a part of this post word for word:

Current Thread Detail: Sir Tim's Life in light of Erikson's eight stages of development

Current Forum: Your family development assessment

When I was born and up to 5 years old, I was viewed as a normal, healthy kid. Thus, I guess I started out culturally hearing. At age 5, my kindergarten teacher conferred with my parents and suggested I get my hearing tested. My hearing impairment was viewed as medically pathological. The recommendation was that I go to an institution for the deaf. My parents would have none of that. "What? For him to go away from a loving home to an institution? No way!"

During my "hard of hearing containment" classes (4 years)... 1/2 day "hard of hearing containment" and 1/2 day mainstreamed (1 year)... and eventually into solitary mainstream (8 years) ... my life evolved from having friends I could relate with to having people around me that viewed me as weird/different. Those 8 years I hated school.

When I enrolled at Gallaudet, I was culturally marginal, not fitting in either hearing or deaf societies. Though I was very confused with the 'rejection' I experienced in my early years at Gallaudet, I also experienced a sense of belonging.

In my later years at Gallaudet, I developed closer relationships with deaf persons who were just enrolling at Gallaudet, who were not aware of my oral background. At this time I had developed extreme anger towards my family and relatives, whom were all hearing.

Now aside from the deafness aspect of my life (there is more of me than my ears, ya know) being an outcast in a hearing society, not understanding what was being said, I had a lot of trouble understanding what "normal" was.

(following is a chart of Erikson’s eight stages of development and some social work technicalities which I think may bore you all to tears.)

Eventually the person figured out what normal was. I would know because this was my father. The paper clearly stated it was:

Posted by Rick Baldi
Date: Mon Sept 8 2005 12:45 am

The thing is that... he graduated with his MSW in 2004. I don't have an answer to this.

Rereading the post, I giggled when I read him saying there's more to him than his ears… such a him thing to say. I'm surprised he didn't end it with, "Alright. Enough of my sob stories. So what were you saying?"

I missed Daddy so much my heart ached. On the other hand, since it has been over three years, I've learned to deal with those feelings. I paused, collected myself together then sat down and thought.

Why now? I mean, I was not in the mood to feel.... but I had an answer right on the spot. I've been learning immensely, so much has happened and I wished I had my father to share it all with. I've been so occupied with school, with being excited about the prospect of becoming an aunt, and everything life has to offer me right now that I let him slip a bit from memory… but, I'm remembering Daddy again. I'm aware of this kind of emotion. Either that, or he is somewhat showing himself. Yeah, yeah how New Age of me. I mean... all of sudden I'm finding his notes, his old e-mails, etc... He was perfectly alive and kickin' once, ya know.

Before I proceed, I want you to be aware I am not grief-stricken. I am not doing this because I still need to cope with his death. Yes, even though I know and understand what a real broken heart feels like, I am not dwelling over it. I have coped with it, I've long accepted it, and it's very much part of my life as my right hand is. Time healed me. I am ready.

Discovering the discussion board post prompted me into doing several things. I've put a lot of thought in this. One of things would be doing some kind of project...

I want to talk about Rick's story, ones he told me about ... which is a lot. I'd tell as it is, not him as a dad, but as a hard of hearing man who left home to find home.

One of my greatest pet peeves will be when someone asks me, "You family deaf?" or "If your baby hearing, you dodo?" for the sake of *wink, wink* rather than out of honest curiosity. Because, who cares? Who cares... get to know me, not my family. Yes, I am deaf of deaf but I always felt I was different. I had a hard of hearing father, I have a hearing brother.  I think I am able to give our community a kind of perspective I feel strongly about; the dynamics in our community, about being "Deaf, hearing, and something in the between."

My father was something in the between. He hated it, but at the same time, that's what he was most comfortable with. Dad could speak like a normal hearing person; yet, I know he can't imagine life without sign language.

His son is hearing, and his daughter is deaf.

Dad spoke with my brother, and signed with me. Again, here, he was "something in the between"...

There are many factors to this.... and I will take the time to address them. However not now, but I am going to.

Besides, Dad once implied, "Justin is dry. Jessica is wet." Whatever that's supposed to mean. (Sheesh. Not like he's any better himself. Where did you think I got this from?)

Before I go, I'm going to leave you with conversations I had with him, both in 2006. Those two never fail making me smile.  ):

On Sat, 9 Dec 2006 4:34 pm, Jessica wrote:
Found a spot with no problem. A little bit crowded but not toooo bad. ;)

On Sat, 9 Dec 2006 4:39 pm, Rick wrote:
"Not too bad" for you is a freakin mob scene for me! Didja find the teeny weeny shop?

On Sat, 9 Dec 2006 7:51 pm, Jessica wrote:
Hahahahahah you funny... The mall wasn't too bad, you'd be surprised
Am a bit lsot going back home though.. There aren't that many exits in pennsylvania

On Sat, 9 Dec 2006 7:53 pm, Rick wrote:
Where you at?

On Sat, 9 Dec 2006 7:54 pm, Jessica wrote:
Got off on the 309.. In PA.. To philadelphia.. How to get to 495 from there?

(then he gave me directions, and when I told him I found my way, he said:)

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Baldi;;
To: Jessica Baldi;;
Subject: Re:
Date: Sat, 9 Dec 2006 20:58:04 -0500


Glad I had a PA map handy.

Tell mommy to drive safe cuz as my aunt martha would say "Mom has precious cargo".

Love You
Good Nite.

You so bet I'm telling this to my kids, "I will drive safely because as Grandpa once told me, 'my aunt Martha would say, Mom has precious cargo'."

RickBaldi [7:48 P.M.]: He lives where?
Pearlicy [7:49 P.M.]: philadelphia but he goes to school in cali
RickBaldi [7:49 P.M.]: Alrightie. Jessica honey I suggest exchange vp info and chat on vp.
RickBaldi [7:50 P.M.]: Meanwhile ill set an investigation team and have this kid checked out in Philly - winks
Pearlicy [7:50 P.M.]: hahaha
Pearlicy [7:50 P.M.]: in this case, cali because that's where he's studying medicine
Pearlicy [7:51 P.M.]: OH!!!!!!!!
RickBaldi [7:51 P.M.]: No prob, I get a California team set up

In this case, if you see some strange Italian men wearing black lurking around in groups, trading suspicious looks, taking notes and pictures, breaking and entering anywhere... afraid not. Don't even worry. It is just my Papa checkin' out some kid.
My father and I on one Christmas in Haddonfield, NJ.