Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Hilary

Today is Hilary's 17th birthday. Needless to say, it's been an interesting ride. All the worries, fears and sadness I felt the day I found out she was deaf have been replaced with pride and optimism (and a little frustration along the way). Hilary has accomplished much and overcome many challenges. One day when I figure out how to convert VHS to a video I can share online, you can all see how far she has come. Hilary is the reason we ended up in St. Louis -- where we needed to be, not only for Hilary, but for Jack. Life has a funny way of working out for the best, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.

(Hilary wearing her first set of hearing aids)

(graduation day from The Moog Center for Deaf Education -
with her favorite teacher, Lisa)

(first day of school in a "regular" school after spending
six and 1/2 years at a school for the deaf)

I've always found it interesting that Hilary has always seen Jack as someone with a disability, but never herself. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Here is a short story Hilary wrote about Jack several years ago:

Once upon a time, there was a kangaroo called Jack. He was very sad because he was very different from other kangaroos. He had poor eyesight so he had to wear glasses all the time and he couldn’t exactly jump well, not common in kangaroos. Plus, he was tawny-yellow, while most kangaroos are gray, red or brown. No matter what, Jack was never allowed in kangaroo games and always spent most of his time alone, reading a book or with his family including Daddy Kangaroo, Mommy Kangaroo, Mary Kangaroo and Eric Kangaroo, all red or brown colored, unlike Jack.

However, one day Jack’s life would change forever. A cat couple were walking by when they spotted Jack sitting under a tree, quietly reading a book while other kangaroos played off in the distance.

Bert, a strange green tiger, walked over to him, followed by Missy, an extraordinary white lioness.

“Little yellow one” growled Bert in a calm tone, “Why are you sitting here by your lonesome self?”

“Because I’m different from other kangaroos,” replied Jack sadly. “No one ever wants to play with me.”

“Oh, but you’re wrong!” said the large tiger. “You’re not different, you’re just special! The kangaroos just don’t realize it.”

“Really?” said Jack, brightening up.

“You bet!” replied Bert. “I’m also special because I’m a green tiger and a very gentle one unlike the ferocious orange tigers.”

“And me” added Missy, “I’m special because I’m a white lioness! You don’t see one of those everyday, and I’m artistic as well.”

“And that’s not all” said Bert. “Everyone is special in some ways, never different.”

“That’s right,” nodded Missy. “it’s true.”

“Some animals just have to learn to not judge books by their covers” added Bert.

“You’re right!” agreed Jack. “While I might not look or act like real kangaroos, I’m much more than that! I’m smart, friendly and fun to be around.”

“That’s the spirit!” meowed Missy happily. “Now, why don’t we go and show the other kangaroos that, ok?”

“Let’s go” said Jack, hopping slightly and clumsily to where the young kangaroos were playing, followed by Bert and Missy.

Eventually, they reached their destination and when the kangaroos saw Jack with two enormous felines behind him, they jumped away in flee, hiding behind nearby bushes.

‘Hey everyone!” yelled Jack. “It’s alright, they are not bad.”

“Really?” said a meek voice from the bushes.

“Yep!” nodded Jack and all of the young kangaroos left their hiding places and stood in front of the yellow kangaroos. “And that’s not all, I learned something really important today.”

“What?” asked a small dark-grey kangaroo.

“I learned that everyone is special, no matter what,” replied Jack, patting the kangaroo on the head. “And we should never judge others just because that “special” thing may look different to us. There is more than meets the eyes.”

“You know what?” said a rather tall, rust-brown kangaroo. “It’s true, while I may be the biggest kangaroo around, I’m nice and I like to have fun!”

“Yeah!” nodded another kangaroo, pale brown with large dark chocolate-brown feet. “I might have the largest feet around, but other than that, I’m pretty good.”

“We’re sorry Jack” apologized the kangaroos in unison. “We didn’t mean to be rude to you, we just didn’t know.”

“Oh, that’s alright”, replied Jack. “I didn’t know either.”

“Really?” gasped the kangaroos in surprise. “Well, then, do you want to play with us? We mean it!”

“Sure” nodded Jack. “Just be a little slower, ok?”

“Yay!” cheered the youngsters. “We can play hopscotch and jump rope, and you can go first.”

“That will be fun” laughed Jack, hopping after the kangaroos, but before he went any farther, he turned around and waved good-bye to the cats. “Bye and thank you.”

Then he bounded away with surprising agility and had fun with his new friends and lived happily ever after.


Pat Killen said...

Absolutely beautiful! Happy Birthday Hilary!! Have a wonderful day.
You have done a wonderful job Ann.

Pat and Chuck

kristy said...

Happy Birthday, Hilary! I love your story about Jack. Have a wonderful birthday!

j worthington said...

Happy birthday Hilary! That's a great story (obviously gets her talent for choosing just the right words from her mum)


Anonymous said...

Awww that story was so sweet. I loved it.

I hope Hilary that you have a wonderful day.


Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Birthday Hilary! Hope you had a great day.


Jen said...

Happy belated Birthday Hilary! I love all of the pictures!!! Ann, Hilary's success is definitely shared with you and your husband for all of your love and devotion towards her learning to listen and speak! I wish all of the parents of deaf and hard of hearing kids I work with were as awesome as you guys! Hilary -- love your story! Please share more of your writing with us :)