Archives for posts with tag: mute

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Finish is worn revealing gentler wood tones, on the arm of the wooden chair, suggesting years of use. The wear clearly from a forearm larger than that of the youthful current inhabitant. More curious than her headwear is the activity of the girl seated at the table with stain and design matching the chair. A delicate finger traces the location where varnish has faded from years of use, as if through touch she can gain understanding of the man who occupies this spot in early morning hours sipping black coffee. Does she gain the knowledge which he received from hours spent in this very location, folding papers containing events of the world. Among them the sports section which always holds his attention slightly longer.

On this day Brooke has chosen the brown bowler, her favorite choice of hat, though she generally seems slightly more partial to the faded black one. The one with felt worn on brims edge, much like the chairs arm, from years of repeated touch. It was a gift from grandfather, he had carried it on the long flight back from England, since it was sizes too small for him but a perfect fit for the little girl whom it strangely reminded him of that rainy day he spotted it through milky glass in the second hand store. This derby would start a collection of many including the brown one donned at the moment. There are the other hats and caps of all styles but by the sure number of days worn, all would agree that bowlers are the definite favorite of young observer.

Taking the seat next to younger sister causes her to look up casting a slight smile with always slightly blushed lips. Returning the smile, I resists the urge to glance away from gentle eyes. Brooke’s eyes hold secrets that have always for me been best observed in small doses. This day I take in all the emotion, love, warmth and passion that exudes from her. A slight tilt of head and scrunching of her noses suggests I should speak, asking me what I’m thinking.

“Brooke what are you doing?”, I ask my sister who I’d watched for some time seated in fathers chair, gently touching the arm worn by his use.

The yellow tablet is pulled close words are placed on it in looping perfect cursive. When thoughts are complete it is slid on the table in my direction. “Talking to Dad, I miss him.”

Six words simple and clear lead me to questions, rather than the answer I believed to be seeking. What do you mean miss him, I think to myself. After all father left for his days work less than two hours ago and as always he will be home before dinner is eaten together. Above the words written for me on the tablet is the evidence of the conversation Brooke and Dad had while he drank morning coffee, so why talking to him?

Brookelyn, now returned to herself and conversation with father, gently rubs the place where his arm hours before rested. Slowly standing in attempt to find my answers in her own fashion rather than mine, I close my eyes. Brooke’s face is soft beneath the gentle touch of my hand as I trace it’s curves, memorizing her form. Slightly damp lips kiss my palm and in my mind I hear the voice of an angel, “I love you too” are the words spoken.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Tender notes fill the room. My mind wonders to distant lands, New Orleans or a bay out west. Places romanticized by novels read, travelers from times long past and of course film. The melody of the record spinning on the turntable which is housed in stereo that speaks of another time, holds me to reality. We could own the finest Bose stereo and the records of our grandparents would still be played on this one that is more furniture than electronics equipment. Brooke insists that music is best when in its intended form, a true record. She of course has an iPod and downloads music of many styles and eras. However, Brookelyn’s favorites are on vinyl.

My eyes open slowly at the gentle touch of sister’s finger to my lips. Looking up from the sofa into Brooke’s pretty face, I offer a smile, to ensure that as always her unusual methods of gaining my attention are appreciated. She quickly signs that she would like my help this morning with the duties in the barn and caring for the horses. Knowing it has little to do with the work that she enjoys but instead is an opportunity she has chosen to spend with me I quickly agree.

Stepping into the cool shadows of the barn behind our home I’m saddened remembering that at Brooke’s age I fought with our parents about doing these tasks, which sister does without so much as a request. To escape self-ridicule I talk to Brooke about traveling, the wonders that foreign places must surely hold. Shovels scrape concrete floors clean with metallic sound, followed by the spray of water that completely clears the stall floors. The whole time I talk of piers, ships sailing far away and adventures neither sister have known. Brookelyn listens acknowledging my words with smiles and at times nods of head. She works slower than normal, allowing me to handle my share of the duties that have long fallen on her precious shoulders.

The bay which Brooke most rides tries to be near her, nosing her hair that hangs bellow the bowler covering her head. Like everyone who knows Brookelyn, Shane does his best to be as close to her as possible. She meets his gesture of love with a gentle blow of breath from between soft lips into his face, then pats the horse who persists on. Once Shane’s area is cleaned Brooke hops over the railing, he turns and exits to the open arena outside his stall. Failing to occupy his loves attention, he has retreated to his peers company, to recoup for another attempt in the future. Feed laid out, barn clean and tended we exit into the sunshine, my eyes taking a moment to adjust to the worlds brightness.

“Brooke, where do you most want to go?” I ask drifting back to dreams of ports, bridges and romantic locations.

Bright eyes meet mine as, “into the house to get a drink, then back out to saddle Shane and go for a ride. Want to come?” is signed in response.

Sitting in familiar saddle, I watch Shane give a slight snort in approval as Brooke mounts. My little sister in perfect riding posture leads the way out of the barn across sunny pasture, opening the bays gate into a slight gallop. Oceans, adventures and travels are forgotten, my heels gesture the horse beneath me to do his best to catch that which at the moment Shane has achieved, Brooke’s attention and favor.

-Brooke’s Sister

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These blog posts have not directly mentioned faith or our families belief system. When I wrote about young Brooke’s quest for forgiveness, purposefully I did not mention it was God she asked for it. There is no shame in our belief, nor do I deny the faith we have, it is more that this blog is not about debatable topics, or creating gaps between us and the world. The blog is simply to find and share Brooke’s voice.

In order to hold true to purpose, self and Brooke what I’m about to tell must be included. Be warned if you venture to read more of this post it is possible you may be offended, though I’m not asking you to believe or think anything. This is just an offer of how Brooke and now I see things. While Brookelyn and I are quite open minded and respect others beliefs this post is about Brooke’s. If you decide to read on I welcome any views and opinions.

The sound of the shower awakens anyone in the bed that is on the wall in Brooke and mines room that keeps our sleeping space separate from the bathroom. That is exactly why my bed is located where it is, an alarm clock that is minus the bells or chimes that tend to frustrate me. Opening my eyes, the first glimpse of sunlight is peering beneath the window coverings. Brooke’s bed is already empty, sheets neatly tucked, blanket smoothed and single pillow placed on top. Why she makes her bed the moment she steps out of it is as mysterious to me as the manner in which it’s done, pillow always uncovered. Brookelyn’s love for new days beginning is another source of pondering. This response to mornings much like a birds flight of migration, is just natural for the younger sister.

Before I have exited my bed Brooke is in the doorway brushing out hair that still drips, leaving spots on the floor. A white dress covers her delicate frame, showing areas of dampness that she felt no compulsion to completely dry. No matter how many times I talk to her about drying off, like getting up early, Brooke has her way. In this case it is to somewhat drip dry. This is a curious choice, almost at odds with her tidy neatness in most other matters.

In the backseat, with our bellies full of oatmeal, my voice tells Brooke about the cute boy that just joined my class in school. She listens watching the fields of our neighbors pass by as we make our way towards church. Brooke always seems to be at her happiest but a little dreamy on church mornings. It’s the only time she does not carry a tablet and pen. Rarely does she sign anything but mostly she simply smiles in her silence, owning it in a way that is almost honoring the quiet.

Exiting church, the day has warmed and promises afternoon adventures, maybe a horse back ride or something just as exciting. On the way home we stop off, Mom needs an item to complete Sunday dinner, the meal of the week we almost always share with guests. Brooke and I wonder the isles of the market, containing sweets. The new boy from class to my surprise stands at the end of the isle. Blue jeans and a t-shirt cover his athletic frame, the sort that promises he is adept at putting a ball in a hoop or running down a fly in the field. Unlike my nature I offer only a shy wave. My gesture is met with a greeting as he approaches us.

He acts surprised that I have a younger sister and blunders with words when I explain she isn’t being shy or rude but instead that Brooke is mute. I can tell that he is full of questions but then he awkwardly suggests a phrase like, “that’s cool”. Leading to an even greater awkward silence, after all it isn’t really cool. Brokkelyn, use to these encounters changes the subject with a smile and by signing to me that it is in fact cool. I vocally translate the signed words and as kids do in certain moments we genuinely laugh with no need for humor. Our new friend steps back, he is surprised that her laugh is silent as well. In his defense at times even I am startled by this. Quickly I explain she is inaudible, unable to make vocal sounds, adding that it’s not a hearing, mental or social issue.

As comfort enters the encounter he inquires why we are in dresses, the type one may wear to a wedding. My explanation of church leads to a response that I had never imagined.

“Oh, you are those kind of people,” the young man says rolling his eyes.

“What does that mean? Calling us ‘those kind of people’,” I respond with slight contempt in my voice. I’m irritated and in that period of life when I’d fight just as quickly as explain myself.

“Just you believe in the whole God thing, it’s dumb,” he replies.

I’m about to tell him he is dumb and to punch him in the eye when out of nowhere Brooke hugs him and takes my hand leading me towards the exit of the store. She waives over her shoulder with a smile as we exit. Shock has kept me as silent as my sister as we climb in the backseat and wait with Dad for Mom to return.

In the comfort of our home, shock faded and irritation at a max, I tell our parents of the event and rant about the stupid boy, that I’d once crushed on. Mom offers the advice mothers often do, Dad praises Brooke but admits he can’t understand the hug. Brookelyn sits at the small table writing on her yellow tablet. When completed she passes her words to my father who reads them allowed, putting answers to questions that my young mind had yet to even ask.

“I hugged him because I felt sad for him. Not believing in something doesn’t not make it real. Not knowing God would make me sad, so I was worried he was sad and hugs help when you are sad. I didn’t want Sissy to argue with him cause God doesn’t like arguing. Also if you know something to be true you don’t need others to agree with you. You only need others to agree if you aren’t sure and I didn’t want Sissy to not be sure. God loves him and I thought Sissy was going to hit him. I don’t really care about him but God doesn’t like mean things and I didn’t want Sissy to need forgiveness.”

Brooke’s words read, we shared a family moment in her silence before my Dad said, “Well I suppose that sums it all up. If Mom can spare some time from the kitchen I can saddle the horses and we can all enjoy the beautiful day.”

Watching Brooke climb onto the English saddle she insists upon using, it was clear to me that my sisters faith is as unwavering as all her other quirks, like not completely drying off after showers, formal riding saddles for casual rides, beds made crisply with pillows uncovered, interesting somewhat inappropriate headware, and silent Sunday mornings.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Brooke once asked me if it was “disheartening to need to ask forgiveness for the same thing over and over again”. Reading her words I was initially confused, I didn’t see my sister as needing forgiveness for anything. Brooke turned back to the work she was completing with oil pastels.

“What do you need forgiveness for?” I asked still completely clueless to her wrong doings.

Nose scrunched Brookelyn shakes her head, picking up yellow tablet and pen. As she writes, her eyes continually look up at me, either checking to make sure I’m waiting for her words, or more as if she wants to ensure I was serious about the question.

Looking down on ink with smudges from the pastels that passed from Brooke’s fingers to paper. For the first time it occurs to me, that being a perfectionist is not easy. All her talents that I’ve felt made her almost perfect, have been bought with hours of practice and more than a little angst. Truth be told, Brookelyn sees the world and life differently than I do. Those actions, thoughts and moments we all write off as being human, my baby sister holds to her heart. On a yellow sheet of paper, similar to the ones I’ve read her words on so many times before, I read, gaining insight to Brooke’s view of perfection.

“Forgiveness for things like, being sad about not having the ability to sing. About not thanking God for everything, even my silence. Also, for not giving more. I am not always sad about not being able to sing and I’m not always ungrateful. But when I am I have to ask forgiveness and it seems like too often.”

One thing for certain, Brooke is grateful for her gifts. She just holds herself to a higher standard than anyone else I know. What I learned was that it isn’t as easy as it appears, chasing perfection that is. She is a sweetie!

20130615-135146.jpgSpeaking of sweet! The wonderful author of Mummy Flying Solo awarded this blog “Super Sweet Blogging Award”.

The Award like many in the world of blogging comes with some rules. I’ll do my best to follow them, though Brooke is much better at the whole rules thing than myself. But here they are and my attempt to comply:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you. That’s Mummy Flying Solo

2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions. That’s below…

3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post. It’s the cupcake pic

4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers. This was difficult with so many great bloggers but I listed them below…

5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog. did this of course…

5 SUPER SWEET QUESTIONS

1. Cookies or Cake? Both? Cake for me, COOKIES for Brooke!

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate without a doubt for both Brooke and me.

3. Favorite Sweet Treat? Choclate for me and Key Lime Pie for Brooke.

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? After exercising! Brookie always loves and wants them.

5. Sweet Nick Name? we all often call Brookelyn, ‘Brookie Cookie’..

13 NOMINEES FOR THIS SUPER SWEET AWARD
In no particular order…

1. Megan at her wonderful blog of creativity! Creative Magic Her writing is brilliant on every subject she chooses.

2. Tony Williams is “Honest Puck” the author of, Tony’s Text. I have to say “Puck”, who’s name he adopted is one of my favorite characters of all time.

3. Jnana Hodson is the man from New England behind the wonderful Jnana’s Red Barn

4. Coach E. not to be confused with coachie pens words about his girls and life on his blog Coach Daddy Blog. As a daughter of a coach, I get it and love it. His girls seem precious by the way.

5. Dennis McHale shares his amazing poetry on his blog The Winter Bites My Bones. His poetry is absolutely amazing in every way.

6. Along with tips on parenting some laughs can be had at Taking My Monkeys Back To The Zoo.

7. Check out The Chatter Blog, for touching, witty posts on a ton of subjects. It’s part of my daily reading.

8. Doodlemum sketches her family and the events of their day. If you don’t follow this, you are missing out on one of WordPress’s treasures.

9. The Lovely T, writes about her life on Mess Of The Day Wreck Of The Year. Honest and open, strong writing can be found here.

10. Arlee, is raising six children and running a day care! How she finds times to write the amazingly insightful posts on Small Potatoes , I have no clue. I’m glad she does though.

11. Tyler McKenzie on his blog Cross Shaped Stuff shares his faith and tales about his love and so much more. It’s upbeat, and even if you don’t share his faith worth reading.

12. Growing up in a rural area and then moving to New York city would be culture shock to say the least. On her blog Girl of The Corn, the reader gets to go along for the ride. This blog inspires me to be a better me.

13. Beth teaches little ones and anyone willing to read her blog, I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. She writes about all sorts of adventures with kiddos at school. The rest of the blog is made up of other things she loves and cares about. It’s a great blog around written by a wonderful person.

Thanks again to Mummy Flying Solo
That’s my thirteen! I understand Brooke a little better now, selecting thirteen of the hundreds of blogs I follow and read leaves me feeling like I let people down.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Slamming the door that keeps, the bedroom Brooke and I share, private from the rest of the world and mostly our parents, I shout at the people who love me the most. The words yelled are hateful, mean, the type intended to push others away. Of course my outburst is mostly a cover for the hurt I feel at the moment. That emotion I seldom let others see, and generally cover with a secondary one like anger or rage.

Through the white paint, wood and space my fathers voice comes. Telling me that he understands I am upset but expressing a need to discuss the issue of the hour in which I returned home. As his manner in all things with us girls, he is gentle and kind. Finally in tone that makes my now crying self move closer to the door that separates us, Dad suggests that I get some sleep and we converse over my disregard for curfew in the morning. Fathers hand gently pats the wood of the door jam, not unlike the way I’m certain he did Brooke’s head hours ago when she went off alone to bed. This is the moment I am completely aware, that of course Brookelyn is awake and sitting up, rubbing sleepy eyes, in the bed against the farthest wall. Turning towards her she smiles, ensuring me that a fight with dad has no impact on our relationship.

In the moments that follow I hit what for me is my all time worst behaviors as a human. Something about her sweet gentle smile, sleepy eyes and the knowledge that she does not rebel or create problems for mom and dad, infuriates me. My mind is racing, full of embarrassment for the ridiculous explosion, frustration over having the earliest curfew of all my friends, resentment that I disappoint Dad when Brooke doesn’t, and finally it’s too much, the anger wins out. I’ve often relived this incident but as I write it, fear fills my heart. I was ugly, imagine the spawn of Satan in all the movies containing such character, combine them into one ugly critter. With a heart of stone and rage, I attempt to share my misery. Yet, some are incapable of things like speech, hate, anger and ever being ugly.

“Brooke, don’t just stare at me!” I shout, as she complies laying down and turning toward the wall. She is doing the only thing that comes to mind, the natural response of following what she is told to do.

For reasons I can’t explain, my evil is not out, something inside me still begs to be released. Still in a shout I continue on. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t just always do what people tell you! It’s dumb and makes you a wimp and nobody likes a wimp! That’s why you don’t have hardly any friends because you are lame!” I’m shaking because I’m yelling so loud, I haven’t noticed that Dad has violated our rule of entering our room without knocking. The rare experience of shouting and worst yet the f word in our home, possibly the last time it’s used, warrants concern.

He is standing in the doorway observing only, just making sure I don’t do anything too bad. But I have already gone too far, I’ve already said things I’ll regret, hurt the most beautiful person I’ll ever know. Seeing our father does not calm me but makes it worse, I am certain he is about to get on to me and rescue the daughter he loves the most. Of course I am wrong, he doesn’t have a favorite, he won’t rescue her, no he is just insuring we don’t physically fight, though I am certain Brooke would not fight.

All my built up guilt, pain and “troubles”, explode in a final outburst of extreme rage. “That’s right just lay there, don’t say anything at all. Oh, that’s right, I forget we all should feel sorry for you cause you can’t say anything at all!”

As if knowing what will come next, like a palm reader, Dad sighs, turning to exit closing our bedroom door behind him. With the click of the brass sound of door shutting my tears began falling as I’m filled with guilt and shame. Laying silently, the tremble of crying is evident in my sisters shoulders. They shake as her hands go up to cover her eyes, while I turn off the light and crawl into my bed feeling miserable but deserving of the emotion. Hours pass as I’m consumed by the silence of Brooke crying, out of shame I can’t cry myself, instead I wish myself dead, or for strength to tell her the truth. Just a little courage to stand and say, “Brooke, you are perfect, don’t change or worry about friends or anything.”

The silence of misery is broken by a rustling of blankets, followed by bare feet quietly crossing the floor and then Brooke is beside me in my bed. Her cheek is wet from tears, but feels good against mine. Arms wrapped tightly around me, I finally begin to cry once more. Together holding each other we cry until sleep finally takes us. Of course she didn’t but I like to imagine that she said, “It is okay, I forgive you and love you even when you forget to love yourself.”

As always actions speak louder than words. The morning light does not wake me. Instead it is a gentle kiss from Brooke on my cheek as she gets out of my bed. I apologize, to which I receive a smile and wink, putting the event to rest forever. Well not for me, I still consider it my rock bottom, the event that marks my last real act of high school, teenage rebellion.

-Brooke’s Sister

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The first snow of winter always brings excitement to my heart. It was no different years ago when with eagerness I’d rise each morning, leaping from my bed to look out the window hoping to see a world covered in white. Of course on many occasions the first falling snow did not come while I slept but instead during the waking hours. This always created a feeling as if cheated, the way one feels when the shell they select is lifted revealing nothing where they are certain a pea should have been. The snow was not better when it fell while I slept, just the rush of finding change added to the possibilities of snowmen, wars raged with the white powder packed into balls and my favorite of all sledding, was beyond perfect.

Watching my breath fog the window from my sister and mines room, looking out at the white field infront of our home, my heart was racing. It had happened while I slept, enough snow had been released from the clouds that rolled in the prior afternoon to leave a glistening pearl view. Joyously shouting in triumph as if the feat was my own, as if Mother Nature had simply done as I’d ordered I crossed the room. Brookelyn sitting on the edge of her bed struggling into the pink snow pants, the ones I’d loved and worn when they were new. For a moment I try to recall, were they a birthday or Christmas gift from Uncle Lars? Leaving thought behind I continue on in an extatic voice, explaining how the snow is surely enough to delay the start of school, or possibly if luck holds cancel it all together.

Hearing my delight from down the hall, mother assures that my dreams are answered. She confirms that at least for the Bayer girls there will be no school on this wondrous Friday. Brooke, in snow pants now is pulling on wool socks, glances up at me with a big grin revealing the tooth she lost several days prior. The smile tells me she has heard and is excited about the news mom has delivered from the kitchen, while the aromas insist she is readying breakfast. Closing my eyes taking in the mixture of frying eggs and bacon, a vision of what she has promised fills my mind. It’s dad in the small barn behind the house, bundled in his hunter green coat, standing over his work bench. Upon the bench is of course the wooden sled, it’s runners turned up cold and hard awaiting the wax he is about to offer them.

Four socked feet race almost silently down the hall, at the stairs mine slow for safety and caution. Those belonging to my sister race past me, like most mornings, gracefully on her toes she barely touches each step until at the bottom, where she slides round a corner on the smooth hardwood floor. I enter the kitchen second as mom turns from the stove beginning to announce the ever so common statement often directed at children in regards to running in the house. The words are stopped before completely out, when her eyes meet her youngest daughters face. Brooke stands beside the chair at the small table in our kitchen that is her usual place, a slight smile on her face. However, it is not the smile that keeps mothers words on her tongue. It’s the one eyebrow raised, causing a slight squint of the other eye, a sign of acknowledgement that our family recognizes on Brookelyn’s face that leads to the silence. It is not that Brooke is allowed to violate rules of order that I am held to. It is something much more complex altogether. My sisters inability to speak, tends to make those who know her well find themselves in her silence. All in the kitchen are aware that there is to be no running in the house, and offending parties have apologized without words being said.

The silence is broken by fathers laughter and the slight creak of the side kitchen door. The announcement of this entrance to our house is not the type that suggest neglect, but rather the sort showing a dad, who does his own repairs, whom also values time with his girls over silent doors. With the three girls of his world all turning their attention toward him, he explains the cause of his chuckle. Brooke and I in our youth do not see humor in his explanation that if not a day promising snow and fun we’d still be upstairs grumbling about the hour. Of course he is correct, we would surely, (especially myself, Brooke is more of a morning person) still be getting ready and not nearly as excited. What we don’t understand however is why this is amusing to him and mother, who has now joined in the laughter. After all why would anyone show the same eagerness to get off to another day of school as a morning spent sledding with one of their heroes?

Bacon, eggs, toast and milk is devoured at a rate which would impress a drill sergeant, for the snow awaits. There is chatter about who will sled first, where the sled should be pulled and ‘what about a snowman?’ Brooke adds in a note slid to my father.

Looking back it now occurs to me, on a day when I would step away from scholastics and never think of writing so much as my name, she was still thinking of spelling and writing. Of course, she was already fluent in signing but preferred to write. Our father once explained that since Brooke was mute but heard perfectly, she never liked using sign language because people tended to sign back. I can’t say with certainty if that is the whole case, but it is possibly one reason why she prefers writing her thoughts.

Completing this post I watch Brooke with her best friend laughing in our living room. The friends laughter fills the room and Brooke in silence as always, joins her. The source of the humor I’m oblivious to, for like all teen girls who have one they are texting on their phones. I’ve heard adults speak negatively about kids and texting but picking up my own phone as I shout, “Brooke, what’s so funny?” I am filled with anticipation awaiting the buzz that will shortly announce the reception of my sister’s response.

Of course I still love the hand written notes, yet text is a wonderful way for Brooke to just be like any other teenager talking to her friends… As for me, if she is in ear shot, I still speak my part of our convos, just in case dad was right and she wants me to hear my voice.

-Brooke’s Sister