Moments of Glad Grace

Oh BabyI rarely talk about my daughter’s deafness. That story is hers to tell. But I sometimes talk about being the parent of a deaf child.

The distinction is important. One approach invites appropriation, the other introspection.

That said, I’m delighted my essay The Shell of your Ear appears in Oh Baby!, a new anthology from Creative Nonfiction.

The essay explores my reaction to my daughter’s diagnosis, and the long, sometimes rocky road to acceptance.

I’m thrilled that it’s found such a good home, nestled among so many beautifully written essays about parenthood. You can find out more about the anthology here or enter a draw for a free copy here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking back to my daughter’s early days and the moment I found out she was deaf. My first coherent thought was that she’d never hear poetry. I was inconsolable, even though I knew, in my more rational moments, that few people consider poetry essential in life.

But that was the point. I wanted her to have more than the prescribed essential. I wanted her to have art and literature and music; to have moments that transcended the ordinary, moments of ‘glad grace’. I wanted her to experience language as something more that pragmatic. I wanted her to experience it as sublime.

In the sixteen years since her birth, I’ve been busy re-evaluating my concepts of ‘glad grace’ and sublimity. (The kids have been busy laughing at me.)

I’m embarrassed that I once paid so much attention to the written word, so little to the unspoken.

Mostly, I’m mystified that I thought any of my children would grow up to love poetry.








Categories Blog: Here and ThereTags , , , , , ,

18 thoughts on “Moments of Glad Grace

  1. Such a beautiful post. Obviously brings Yeats to mind and I can identify with your reaction being a person who adores poetry and who had a mother who spoke in poetry to me.
    I’d delighted that you are happy with the home of your piece. That’s important too.

    1. Ahh, thanks Jean. How lovely to be raised by someone who spoke poetry to you! And yes, I’m a big Yeats’ fan. In fact, used to recite The Song of Wandering Aengus to my oldest daughter when she was a child. It came up in a pub quiz recently, and she surprised her friends by getting it right!:)

      1. My pleasure. Yes, I was beyond fortunate to have the mother I had. She was poetic up to the very end.
        I also read Yeats’ love poetry to my son when he was young. He adored it and had quite a grip on the concept of unrequited love by the time he was about five. I hope he never has to go through what Yeats did!

      2. You must have wonderful memories of her, Jean. But let’s hope your son escapes the poetry of broken hearts! These things are more fun to read about than live through. 🙂

  2. What a sweet post. Our thoughts change, as we age, which is just as well, isn’t it?
    Congratulations on getting published in this anthology. You did good!

    Lots of love and hugs 🙂

    1. Oh yes, absolutely Fran. Would hate to be stuck where I was years ago.:) Thanks for the good wishes and the email. Will get back to you in a bit!

      1. Thanks so much. xxx 🙂

  3. Congratulations on the inclusion of your essay! The book looks wonderful. I just entered the giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity.

    1. Thanks Carrie. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. It would be so nice to win something, wouldn’t it?

  4. Congrats on the publication Aileen x

  5. Congratulations on finding a home in the anthology, Aileen. Thought of you as I was listening to the programme ‘The Blind Faithful’ on Radio 5 this evening. It was one of those programmes that does what radio does so wonderfully well and I think you’d enjoy it. It’s on iPlayer here: and I think they’re making it into a podcast.
    All best wishes

    1. Thanks Elaine. Half-way through the documentary and really enjoying it! Thanks for the recommendation. Hope all well with you. I’m busy catching up on your recent posts. Enjoyed the Black Raven one – the translation is a heartbreaker.

      1. It’s good radio isn’t it? I don’t often listen to Radio 5, so I caught it by chance.

        The emotion of Black Raven’s very Russian somehow. Do you know the English version ‘The Three Ravens’ or

      2. Ooh, like the Martin Green version. Lovely voices. Do you know Sinead O’Connor’s I am Stretched on your Grave? Similar (desolate) vibe, but oh, the voice commands.

  6. Congratulations Aileen. Lovely post.

    1. Thanks Niamh. Glad you enjoyed it.

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