This video includes Myron Uhlberg discussing his upcoming memoir, The Hands of My Father. Because it isn't closed captioned, I transcribed the video below... It's worth a watch for the beautiful pictures of Uhlberg's family. Have I mentioned that I can't wait to read this book?!?
For me of course my story is the centrality of my life. Everything begins and ends with me the fact that I was the first born hearing child of two deaf parents. But I knew the title could only be The Hands of My Father because when I think, and thought, and lived with my father when he was alive, to me the essence of my father was his hands. His language was in his hands. His language defined him… his culture.. his thoughts… his history everything was in his hands. About the time I was six years old I became officially my father’s translator. I was the interface between my father’s deaf world and the hearing world.
My mother at the age of 89… She couldn’t live alone anymore so I brought her to live with me. And every other day she would tell me “I want to die.. I want to die” and in Sign Language “I want to die” is the turning of the body (SIGNS DIE) . And then I said “Wait Wait Wait, Don’t die yet. I wrote a book” One day the book showed up and we sat down and I’ll never forget and I showed her the book and she traced with her hand the title Flying over Brooklyn by the author Myron Uhlberg and I could see in her expression how excited she was and when we came to the end there is a picture of my mother and she is holding her son, ME, by the shoulder and she is looking out the window at what’s left of this colossal blizzard in 1947. She turned and looked at me pointed to the woman in the illustration and said “Me” and I said “Yes, that’s you the mother that I love” (SIGNS LOVE) She started crying. And of course, I broke into tears as well. And at that time, she said “Why don’t you write about us. But talk about Lou..My husband Lou”. She always referred to my father as her husband Lou like he this was some strange other person who was not in fact my father. With adult audiences what happens is when I tell them my story, first they’re fascinated at learning about this complex invisible world in plain sight. Most of them have never interacted with a deaf person. They don’t realize that it’s a real language as opposed to just mimicking or miming something. They don’t realize there is a culture involved. They no nothing about… they’re absolutely fascinated. It’s a glimpse into this invisible world now made visible. There is a rather large segment of the community who the only way they understand the world around them is through their language…and their language is in their hands. And that’s a beautiful full rich complex language. And however it creates… problems of being deaf in the hearing world is the further appreciation of what those problems are. And that’s what I hope is the lasting remembrance of my story.