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.

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.

Motivational speakers…

I can’t convince my husband, who is blind and deaf, that he COULD be a motivational speaker, and he has great experiences to share… Everyone always asks about ‘how did you meet’ and ‘how do you cope’ and on and on.  Why he’s not writing or speaking, I really can’t understand. He says he doesn’t like being an ‘inspiration’ to people, but heck!  We need money and he needs a career.  There’s one built into being an ‘inspiration’ to people, isn’t there?  It’s like a writer, but with a sob story everyone actually WANTS to hear.  Or at least be a comedian… right?

So… how do I convince him?

Conversations With The Hobbit: Part 1

My Hobbit: i just wonder if there’s more ‘science’ than we think in scripture
Me: well, I’m pretty sure that scriptures/prophets weren’t all that concerned with science. That’s like asking an astronomer what he thinks about rotating crops: you know? It’s really not fair to expect them to be an expert in both fields, especially when that option really wasn’t available to them. They knew about sheep. They could tell you how to breed a good ewe. That’s about all the science they knew, but for their time, that was pretty damned important and yet, people always expect prophets to know more about science than scientists know about faith (or sheep).

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!!!

An Hour In The Life Of A Deaf Blind Man (guest post by the Hobbit)

An Hour In The Life Of A Deafblind Man

I wanted to do something sweet for my wife and stepkids, so I decided that I would get my wife a dozen yellow roses, and a couple of packs of candy valentine hearts for the kids.

I walk to the store, and on the way I realize that I don’t have a notepad and a magic marker with me, but I hope that it won’t be a problem.

I went to the bank near the store to withdraw money from the ATM. Unfortunately it is midday, and the sun is shining too brightly on the outdoor ATM for me to be able to use it.

So I go into the grocery store to see if they have an ATM. I ask one of the cashiers where the ATM machine is. He points me in the direction of the bathrooms, so I go over there only to discover there is no ATM. I go back to the cashier and pull out my ATM card and slide it back and forth. He points in a different direction, and I find the ATMs.

I can’t read the fonts on the grocery store ATM very well, so I sort of stab at the buttons until I can see ‘checking’ and enter the amount I want ($20). The machine shows another screen, probably asking me if I want to pay the transfer fee (which I wouldn’t have had to pay if I could see the bank’s ATM machine). I figure it’s 50/50 so I push one. The machine doesn’t give me a $20 and flashes a message that I can’t see.

I sigh with exasperation.

I go to look for the flowers anyway, figuring that I can use the ATMs at the cash register, which is kind of a pain because I can never read the LCD readouts that ask me if I want to use credit/debit do-you-want-cash-back, please-enter-your-pin, and the order isn’t always the same from store to store and I haven’t tried it here yet.

I find a dozen yellow roses and ask the cashier how much they are. She scans it, but I am unable to see what the price showing on the monitor is, so I ask her to tell me. She tells me, but I can’t hear her, so I tell her that I am both visually and hearing impaired, so can she write it down? She does, but it’s in pen, so I still can’t see it. At this point I feel like a terrible nuisance.

I am not completely sure exactly what my balance in my checking is, so I go *back* to the bank, only this time instead of using the bank’s ATM (because the sunlight is still glaring on it too much to see) I go inside the bank and wait in line. Once I get a bank teller, I ask her if she will tell me what my balance is, and I tell her that since I can’t hear, would she please write it down for me.

She writes it down in pen, but it is too small, so I apologetically ask her to write it larger so I can see. She writes it out, and I see that I actually did have enough in my checking account to be able to use the bank’s ATM as well as the grocery store’s ATM. I get enough money to buy flowers, and I head back to the store.

After I get the flowers, I remembered that I wanted to get the candy hearts for the kids. So I ask the cashier which aisle the candy hearts are on. She calls to someone else, who tells her, then she tells me, but I can’t hear her. So I ask her if she will show me with her fingers what aisle they are on, and she holds up a 1 on one hand, and a 3 on the other hand. I figure it’s aisle 13 (rather than 31) so I say “13, right?” She nods, and I thank her.

I go to look for the candy hearts, squinting hard at the aisle numbers, and after a few minutes of squinting at candy boxes, I find them. I can’t see the price for the candy hearts. Since I only have approximately $2 left, I grab two boxes hoping that I have enough money to cover it.

I go to another register to buy the candy hearts, but I wanted to be sure I had enough so I ask the lady if $2 will cover it. She says something, but doesn’t nod or shake her head, so I am unsure. She seems to be asking me for change, so I fish in my pocket for change and show her what I have, and ask her again “is that enough?” she hands me back a dollar and rings it up. Apparently I had given her too much, not too little, but I just couldn’t hear what she was saying.

Finally, I leave the store, flowers and candy in hand, and I decide I should probably call my wife to let her know why it is taking me so long. I can’t see the numbers on the phone very well, but I’ve dialed the number enough to be pretty sure that I am dialing the correct number. I wait until the screen changes so I can begin to talk, but I can’t hear whether my wife is on the phone or not. I speak into the phone telling her “I don’t know if you are getting this or not, but if you are I am on my way home now.”

Then I walk home, and give the flowers to my wife. I am grateful that I managed to bumble my way through it, and I can literally feel all of the tension from the pent-up deafblindie frustrations melt away as she hugs me.

— by Sam

Saving the World One Backseat at a Time

I have two kids under 13 and when we go to weekly activities night at the church, I buy fast food because there is just no time after work before I have to leave to beat traffic, to make a good dinner.  This, unfortunately means that there are… ‘leftovers’ in the back seat.  These food fossils can make my car smell pretty raunchy.

I have fibromyalgia and when I have a really rough week with exhaustion, I come home for lunch and take a nap.  I live close enough to work, thank the Maker, that I can take a 20-30 minute power nap.  It really helps. But during these times, I don’t have the time or energy to do less ‘needful’ things, like clean the car.  My husband, however, knowing this, chips in and does these little, wonderful works of  service for me.Flea Breeze

This week during lunch he went in to take on the car (especially the backseat).  When I came out, he was holding a bottle I knew was flea spray:

“What are you doing?” I asked him (in ASL, of course).  “You know that is not cleaner?”

“Oh, yes,” he said. “I know.  I just was trying to make your car smell better with Febreeze.”

“That is not Febreeze.  That is FLEAbreeze,” I told him, spelling it out and then making the sign for bug.

He laughed.  “Well.  Your car is clean and completely flea free.”

I nodded my head, though I’m not sure how many fleas the kids brought into the car.

“You can blog about this,” he said, generously.  “How my husband flea proofed the back seat of the car… It’s one of those blind man skilz.”

And so… I did.

Kamikaze Cockroaches

This morning i found a squished cockroach.  I know I didn’t squish it.  In fact, now that I think about it, my squeamishness about cockroaches has actually saved their lives several times.  Just the other day I stopped my supervisor from stepping on one that was crawling across the hall at work.  We ran across it going back too.  Still alive.

This is what happens in Southeast Texas when the rains start to come and flood everywhere.  The bugs start to move inside.

The roach I found this morning was squished flat.  The very strange thing about this is that it has happened more than once.  A week or two ago, I found a  squished cockroach behind my husbands chair.  It wasn’t as well squished as the one I found this morning, but that’s because it was much, much bigger. Maybe you don’t think this is very strange – a man squishing bugs-but these squishings are done completely by accident.

My husband can’t see the floor.

Our house is very “Spartan,” as my father calls it.  There is plenty of room for Sam to walk without having to use a cane, and all of us know not to leave things where he can trip on them.  We even have  what we call “fairy lights” in the hall for his occasional midnight trips to the fridge.  We put the lights on so that everyone else can sleep with the doors open, not be bothered by the light, keep the electric bill down (a big problem in the South in the summer) and my hubby still has a lighted hallway so he doesn’t walk into the door or turn too soon and hit a corner.

So, my husband can’t see the floor, but cockroaches are constantly walking directly under his feet to be squished.  They must be Kamikaze’s sacrificing themselves for the greater good of all roachdom. That is fine.  So long as they use my husband’s shoe to do their divine calling and not mine!