Elle is 5 years old. Slowly but surely she is learning to fingerspell. Her favorite letter of the alphabet is G. She calls me GG, shortened for Gran Gran, and waves two fingerspelled G s in the air! She works hard to get her fingers just right and wave the fingerspelled sign “ILY” (I Love You).
What she really loves to do, when the family is gathered together at the dinner table, is to join the family in signing the prayer “God Made The Sun”.
Signing this prayer at the dinner table is now a family ritual. Starting the meal off with a signed prayer is a reminder to the family to do their best to sign and include me in on the conversation during the meal.
How often we, who are late deafened, sit at the table and miss the family conversation. It’s very hard to be surrounded by the people you love the most and not understand them.
One of my favorite articles that taps into that statement is “Table Scraps“, in which a man who is late-deafened compared the family dog, waiting for scraps of food, to the family member who is late-deafened, waiting for scraps of communication. The article was written by Jerry Barnhart and appears in the Association of Late-Deafened Adult’s book ALDABest – 1987-1996, chapter 6, page 57. When I first read this article I was just starting to learn sign language as a way to communicate again. “Table Scraps” hit home in more ways than one. If I wanted my family to learn sign, I realized I needed to work hard and become good at signing so I could sign and talk at the same time and by doing so could “teach” my family to sign by example.
That’s the story behind why I love our family ritual of saying this prayer at the dinner table and why I am so happy that the youngest of all has learned this prayer.
Here is another video of the prayer. This time I am signing the prayer.