I promise…

I found a copy of Sam’s vows to me when I was going through my manuscripts for Mars.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence.  I believe his hand was in that.  Here are his vows:

I, Sam, want you, Noelle
To be my wife,
To have and to hold
From this day forward;
For better or for worse,
For richer or for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
Never to part.

I promise to be faithful to you,
To be with you through the good and bad,
To support you in any way I can,
To live for you or die for you.

Finally, I promise to remember
That God brought us together,
And that I am accountable to Him
To be the best husband and father I can be.

In return, I edited the dedication page for my book to be published soon (see the video for it at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skyrocket/martian-goods-and-other-stories )

For Sam

 

You promised to live and die for me,

and here is my vow to you:

I promise that while I live, you will live on

in stories, in tales, as:

Sir Random Loud Noise

aka slyfoot

My hobbit

Patriarch of Calinor

and every hero I create or tell of.

 

You will always be the best man I have ever known.

I love you.

The Sam Touch

My husband, Sam Campbell III, was deaf and legally blind (as you probably know).  Throughout our marriage there were many, many, MANY things that he missed, that he misunderstood, that he wrongly perceived, due to his disabilities.  Sometimes he didn’t know I was crying, even if I was standing there face to face with him.  Sometimes I cleaned up after a mess he made, but didn’t see.  I cleaned about a million broken glasses–so many we started buying paper cups.  Sometimes I cleared something out of his path that he would have tripped on.  I led him.  I interpreted for him.  I drove him.  I tried to get him to only wash one load in the washing machine… Sometimes I guided him here or there with just lights I put up in the hall.

Personally, I may have envied that he got to be home to raise the kids instead of me.  I still have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I didn’t envy the deaf/blindness and all the emotional burden that brings.  I may have resented his disabilities as much as he did at times, but I tried hard to serve him without complaining, because I love him so very much and serving him made me all that much more a part of his life, his world, and I really thought if everyone knew him as well as I did, they would love him just as much.

Sometimes Sam was gruff.  He could be downright scary when he was angry and sometimes he had a hair trigger. Often he was grumpy-who could blame him?  Every day was a struggle – and he didn’t see all the people stepping out of the way for him, moving things so he wouldn’t trip on them, and all the other millions of little acts of kindness that actually made his life easier than it would have been without it, but I did.  I saw.  I also learned to look past the grumpiness and focus on the selfless acts that my husband did for me, made even more selfless because he had every justification for needing more attention than I did.  I saw what he did.  I never thought of myself as selfless as he was, but I did my service for him in different ways, mostly physical and financial. He was always the spiritual leader of the house, even when he thought I was more spiritual, that I was closer to God than he was.  He was always the one to get us back to the temple and never complained even a little bit about going to church. — It is very hard to find excuses to miss church when a deaf blind man doesn’t give quite reasonable excuses (like “I don’t understand anything that’s going on there”) not to go, but actually goes out of his way to attend.

I think I learned something valuable about our relationship NOW from our relationship BEFORE he died.

I knew what his struggles were.  I saw them, I heard about them, I even had to counsel with him on some of them.  So those selfless acts, even if I didn’t personally witness them, done on my (or the family’s) behalf were all the more beautiful.  This is actually how I recognize what he is still doing for me now.  I learned to recognize them when he was still here.  Call them “Sam’s Touch.”  I recognize it now because it feels like Sam.  I remember how it felt when he served me before, and it’s that same feeling now.  Its how I think you can recognize what others (beyond the veil, and even here) are doing for you.  

I think this is why the church counsels you to keep a journal.  If you can’t remember how someone influences you, how they make you feel, go back and read it, and then you will know when they are influencing you still.  You will feel it.  You will recognize them because you know them so well.

The ironic thing about our marriage is now I am the deaf and blind one, and I can’t see what he is doing for me, but I know he’s there.  I feel him moving things out of the way for me, putting up lights for me, like I did for him, and I am comforted and reassured that our marriage is still strong.  Perhaps it is fitting for him to see and be as frustrated serving the deaf/blind as it was for me, but maybe it makes him love me and to be with me as much as serving him made me love him (and to be with him).

I do think so.  I think so because I can still feel him.  I recognize his touch.  And that’s why I don’t cry as much or as often.  I’m not ‘remarkably’ recovered, no, I’ve just become deaf and blind and am mostly ignorant of the things being done for my behalf by others beyond the veil.  I see the results, though–I am able to navigate life much more easily than I have any right to expect, and so I thank these angels, my Father in Heaven, and Sam–my hobbit, for lighting my way on the road that goes ever on and on.

Grumbles

I don’t think you can appreciate how obvious Sam’s feelings were because he not only would grumble, not knowing who was around or in ear shot, but he would type out his grumbles when he was at the computer and just not hit enter. It didn’t matter, however, because his screen was so huge everyone in the room could read it. I had to force myself to not read or to try to pretend as if I hadn’t seen. Sam and his thoughts were literally public almost always. He was always really interested in truth and honesty, but he knew that it was important to not take everything people said at face value.  Sam was a scary guy sometimes.  He had that wandering eye that wasn’t quite able to focus on you when he looked at you, besides him being blind.  Being deaf just made it harder because he would grumble so much louder than he realized.  Everyone knew what he thought.  It was hard then at first to accept him at his word when he said things that did not agree with his grumbles. It became easier because his actions were so clear that they started to speak louder than his grumbles.  In the end, it was clear that what goes on inside our heads, those negative thoughts, all came out with Sam.  That was only clear because Sam’s actions: the little gifts of donuts for the kids, candies, flowers for me, going to church with us, going to scouts and young women-sitting in the foyer just to be with us, just for us to be family (as normal as we could be), being cheerful even when he was so tired of his disabilities… All those actions and many more made Sam’s Grumbles something we just ignored as an external version of what normally happens inside.  We still love him for all the little things he used to do for us.  Now we try to do things we think he would have volunteered for: Feeding families in need, working at the church, helping friends that helped us.

All arayed in spotless white…

Feel incredibly depressed today, but I also feel like I don’t have a right to be depressed.

A good friend passed away this week.  I knew there was trouble because I hadn’t heard from his wife in a while (with a personal contact).  His wife was essentially my mentor in ASL.  She is a professional interpreter who corrected me, taught me and helped me through my trials in the Deaf Community and with the problems of having a deaf spouse brings into a family.  I generally know enough now that I have been on my own in most cases regarding ASL, but when it came to family problems, she and her husband, who just passed, were always there to help us through them.

Before this friend passed away, he had been through a coma/stroke that affected his brain.  He almost died.  It was remarkable that he pulled through it.  The Deaf Branch prayed and fasted for him, and he recovered.  He was remarkably recovered, but there were still obvious new quirks that reminded us that he had not got back everything he had lost.  His wife spent a lot of time with him, helping in his recovery, the therapy, and just enduring the times when he wasn’t quite himself.  This is where we became more similar as a couple than we had before.  She had frustrations when her husband wasn’t quite himself like I did, and frustrations when her husband thought he could do things that he used to do before when she would have to remind him that it just wasn’t possible now, like I do sometimes too.  In this way we commiserated and supported each other.

Then her husband got cancer.  It must have been quite a blow to have recovered from one near death experience only to face another.

Her husband was one of My Hobbit’s dearest friends.  They traded hats like some kids trade CCG’s.

I asked My Hobbit how he was doing, because I could tell he was feeling low after the Memorial for this dear friend, and he  said: “I am doing ok.  I didn’t cry.”  And I said: “I cried for you.”  And I think I did.

I am very sober this evening.  I am glad that the challenges we have at our house have given us an opportunity to be so close and spend so much time together, even if it presents other challenges (like financial challenges) that are difficult to navigate. I am glad to have My Hobbit, for as long as I have him, and now I am even glad for the challenges that have brought us so low financially.  I get to be with him, my eternal companion, much more often than I would be if I worked.  I think, after the Memorial today, that I appreciate that much more than I ever have before.

Hobbit Fables #1

My husband and I were talking about the kids and their incessant whining this morning–mom is so evil! She makes me do dishes!–when the Hobbit came up with this lovely Fable that reflects our lives:

 

A dad had kids who refused to eat end pieces of bread. So he told his kids: “Hey, kids, the end pieces are like rolls. You like rolls, so you shouldn’t have a problem with the end pieces of bread.” So the kids quit eating rolls.

 

Prologue from Raging Bull

For those of you that helped me with this novella, there’s a sneak peak up at my artists/authors blog:

via Prologue from Raging Bull.

Feel free to repost and reblog!!!

Spanglish

When I married my half-deaf/half-blind/half-crazy husband I knew exactly one word and one phrase in ASL. The word? Sorry. The phrase? I love you. We started to go to a deaf branch of the LDS church the week after we were married. It was the people in the branch that taught me ASL, the interpreters and the members. Because most of the members were Hispanic, and I am half Hispanic, more comfortable with Spanish than I was with ASL, I hung around the Hispanic deaf members because I felt a little more comfortable in their culture than Deaf Culture. The words they verbalized were often in Spanish, the food was Mexican and even if it was quiet, it was familiar. But from those friends I picked up a lot of words in MSL not knowing they were MSL.

Now that I am more comfortable with my skills in sign language, I sometimes find that I’ve learned a word in MSL that translates as a completely different word in ASL. Strawberry in MSL, for instance, looks a lot like Flower in ASL and it is easy to confuse my ASL only friends with the sign.

The strangest side effect of this, however, has nothing to do with the deaf. Because I am (1/2) Hispanic, I have friends that speak very little English and I find myself signing at them when I am trying to stammer out my broken, ill-used, Spanish. Maybe it’s because ASL and Spanish are in the same part of my brain, I don’t know, but it must look awfully strange to my hearing friends and relatives to see me waving my hands in the air while I am speaking to them.

It’s kinda funny because my hearing friends do the opposite to me, knowing I speak ASL at home. They try NOT to wave their hands about, because they’ve seen me zero in on their hands once they start moving, like I’m trying to figure out what signs they are signing.

Being multilingual in a multilingual world would be a fascinating study in anthropology or linguistics, don’t you think?

Fear – guest post by Sam (my hobbit)

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.” –Dune

When I decided to go back to school I was fairly certain it was the right decision. But after a few weeks of thinking about it, I became almost paralyzed with fear. What if I couldn’t do it? How could I compete with other hearing and sighted individuals? And the most disturbing fear of all was this: What if I’m not actually as smart as I think I am? What if I have vastly overestimated my own intellectual prowess?

Well, after two full semesters at Houston Community College I can now confidently say that yeah, I can do this. I have to rely on someone to caption the lectures in real time, I miss most of the visual aids like blackboard, movies, and overhead projectors. And I still managed to outperform most (and sometimes all) of the other students in my class. The point isn’t that I am awesome, although I clearly am. The point is that fear can cripple your chances of success more than being physically crippled. Don’t let fear rule your life or ruin your life. Don’t just dream it, dare to make it a reality.

+Sam

Deaf Standard Time

I live in Houston, and in Houston we are on Central Standard Time or CST.  Just a few states over is Mountain Standard Time.  In my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we understand that MST is not Mountain Standard Time, but Mormon Standard Time.  Translated into non-member, that means “fifteen minutes late.”   This is caused, so we are all led to believe, by Mormon mothers being especially overworked (due to having five kids in three years) and having a difficult time managing to keep all five children in their Sunday best–even with the tag team help of a spouse.

Being in a deaf branch (congregation) of the same church, and socializing with the deaf, we have learned that the deaf have a similar standard of time, Deaf Time, (which means late.  This is, necessarily compounded by MST and it means I am habitually early to nearly every Deaf Branch function, even if I am late.  The reason for being tardy, I suspect, is not due to the children–though CODAS can be especially hard to manage when they want to be.  I have yet to hear any explanation except “It’s a Deaf thing.”

Since I grew up in Southern California near the playground of the stars (Palm Springs), I am somewhat familiar with L.A. trends.  Apparently, it is uncool to be on time for a party.  The standard is to appear thirty +minutes late.  The deaf have taken ‘fashionably late’ as a literal standard and we have learned to schedule meetings, gatherings and parties accordingly.

If you can measure how cultured a people are by how late they arrive to a meeting, no one can out culture a Deaf Mormon.