By Megan Gieske, Contributing Writer.
“[Next to the] staircase, there’s a little doorway, where she [my mother] will come down the stairs, peek in through the doorway into the dining room, and watch me play a while,” senior Lynnette Cagle said of her mother, who is deaf.
“She knows when I’m playing piano in the house, or singing in the kitchen cooking. She even says ‘I love to hear you sing. I always miss hearing you play . . . the house gets so quiet,’” Cagle said of how her mother can tell whether it is her daughter’s music filling the rooms of the home or just the radio.
Cagle’s mother, Diana, was not born deaf like Cagle’s father Robert, but lost her hearing after a childhood illness. Like a legend, Cagle recalled, “The story keeps being told a different way.” Sometimes it’s a seizure. Sometimes it’s a horrible sickness.
When fallen pieces of glass can shine through their imperfections, it can be really truly beautiful.
Sitting across from Cagle, a creative writing and media communications double major, I asked her to tell me how her parents met. She smiled, laughed, and finally said, “It’s kinda cute.”
The couple first met at the National Technology Institute for the Deaf, where they first learned how to talk to each other. For years, they sent letters or typed on “TTYS,” machines Cagle imagines looking like jukeboxes.
Cagle’s father insisted that his family learn how to sign and to speak at the family’s dinner table. Parents are brilliant at making allocations for their children.
“Before I learned how to talk, I was signing,” Cagle said. American Sign Language was her first language.
Both of Cagle’s parents actively volunteer with non-profit Kentucky Adapt, where the deaf with disabilities learn how to live independently. Diana sells crafts to raise funds, and Robert leads group field trips.
On a trip to the Newport Aquarium, the group saw a display, where “you’re completely surrounded by fish and sharks” swimming overhead in a tunnel of light and water and shade. “(They) were completely awestruck,” Cagle said of her father’s favorite moment.
Cagle’s family attends a deaf church in Danville, where the pastor’s message and the hymns are signed. It brings to mind the Wesley phrase, “Even broken glass.” When fallen pieces of glass can shine through their imperfections, it can be really truly beautiful.
“Since I have a foot in both worlds,” Cagle said, “I hope to be able to bridge the gap.” She’s writing a short film script about a deaf boy in high school. “I want to use it to reach a hearing audience to show them a deaf person’s thought processes and how they don’t think of themselves as victims,” she said. Instead, they have lives as rich and full as the deaf culture—the art, film, dancing, and music.
Cagle added, “They need hearing people to recognize how they can help and how they can step out of their way.”