The worst loneliness for me is not the silence I feel when I am at a sporting event and see the fans cheering around me, nor is it looking out the window and seeing neighbors gather and chat, wondering what neighborhood news I am missing. It’s when I am surrounded by the people I love the most and cannot understand. When I found out I was going to be a grandmother for the first time, I remember a quiet moment with my son when I finally said the words that spoke to the emotions inside – “I cannot bear to have one more person I love and not understand him.” My son replied, “I promise you mom, you will understand him.”
Logan is my first grandchild. My daughter-in-law (Sara) and my son (Dan) made sure he was exposed to sign language as a baby. He watched the Baby Signs DVDs again and again, loving the adorable animation. I signed to him and he could sign to me as well when he wanted a drink or more snacks. I remember the day he was across the room and I signed to him without using my voice to pick up his tiny chair and move it closer to me. Then, even just as a toddler, he understood and did just that. But once he learned how to talk and to communicate by talking, there was a time period that I feared he would no longer communicate with me by signing.
The next grandchild came along, and once again, I would stay happy and content at family gatherings since I would have a baby on my lap as eager for visual communication as me. They would love the expressive faces and the visual drama of signing a book. There was a part of me that was dreading when they would learn to talk and find talking a much easier way to communicate.
With four grandchildren ranging from the ages of 7 to 16, I am noting stages they pass through in their journey to learn sign and communicate with their late-deafened grandmother. From the visual communication as toddlers, they moved to the stage of learning how to talk and relying on their parents to sign for them. Then came the school age, when they learned how to spell words. They tried their best to sound out words and fingerspell the word to me. If they could not remember a letter of the fingerspelling alphabet, they would draw the letter in the air. As they made their way through grammar school, they moved on to the stage of fingerspelling complete sentences. With the arrival of the teen years, they are learning more and more signs and doing less fingerspelling. It has been a joy watching them navigate through the stages.
The promise was kept. Meet my oldest grandchild, Logan.
“My name is Logan, and I am Lois’ oldest grandchild. I have been signing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved to sign. I would watch sign videos and play puzzles that taught ASL (American Sign Language). Sign language has been part of my life forever and I would not trade it for anything. Communicating with my grandmother can sometimes be challenging, but it’s never frustrating. My grandmother, (we call her GG), has always made signing fun, exciting, and sometimes funny.
We often learn new signs while playing games, which as a kid, makes learning a lot more fun. For example, we would play the game Sorry, and she would teach us different signs that were incorporated with the game. One thing I’m thankful for is that my GG is always patient. She never gets frustrated if we forget a sign, or get it wrong. She is just thankful that we are trying to communicate with her. I am so blessed to have an amazing grandmother who is willing to teach us. I am very proud of my GG and am thankful for our fun times together.
Here are some signs that are pretty easy to do.”