Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thank You Keith and Wink, New AFF Member

Hello Everyone and welcome,

Today I want to announce something. You know my roster? Really there’s only one name on the AFF roster. Today I get to announce there’s a new name to add to it. Her name is Norma Boots. She provided the subject for my previous post. She had been reading a book when she came upon a comment the author wrote that was negative toward deafness. She looked up the author’s contact information and sent her a direct email. The author responded, becoming a discussion. Norma stayed strong and positive and did a lot to help the author understand Deaf culture. That’s the point of the AFF - to help eradicate Audism - that.
So the two of then discussed what name she wanted. My name is the CODA Kidd, with 2 d’s, because it looks more like a wrestler’s name. So we both thought on it and came up with ideas, but when we shared them we didn’t like them. So we did it again and man, what a waste. Finally, she had come up with one. She is the “Paladin of Justice”, but I prefer to sign “Justice” like this (the sign for equality as opposed to the one that relates to “court”). That’s cool! Her name is The Paladin of Justice! Yeah! So now it can be added to the roster, meaning there are now two people. I’m waiting for more, so who’s out there? Come on, I’m ready!

Recently my wife and I went to Brewer, Maine, for the Keith Wann and Wink show. I bought tickets for myself, my wife, niece, sister, (my mother), and my aunt. She is very special to me. Both of my parents are Deaf. No one on my mother’s side of the family ever really signed, and it was the same for my father’s side of the family, with one exception - his sister (my aunt). My father was the oldest of his siblings while my aunt was the youngest. There’s about 15 years separating them. So when she was a kid, somewhere between 4 and 6 years old, my father taught her ASL. He would show her the alphabet and some signs. She started to pick it up, and then just took off with it. That’s what makes her unique in their family - she is the only one who signed. Very nice. So we brought everyone to the show.
The first performance was the comedy show, which was Wink followed by Keith. It’s such a good experience, but I had seen the same show twice before in Boston and New Hampshire. Despite that, the show was still awesome. Anyways, during the break we looked around at the school the show was held in. It’s an elementary/middle school. The same aunt I just mentioned works there, and has her classroom upstairs on the second floor. She’s the special ed teacher, so it was cool to have her show us her room and the upstairs. 
When we came back down, I noticed my mother hanging around and chatting with the other Deaf people there. It was a very good time. It was so nice to see everybody, so many old faces I remember, but I couldn’t recall most of their names. It’s the CODA curse, maybe (what do you think?) because when you’re a little kid at the Deaf Club meetings with your family and you see all of the adults, and play with all the other CODA children, you get to know their faces, all of them - strong remember. But names? My god, I was just a little kid. I didn’t remember any names because no one ever spoke them. You can’t pick it up if it’s not mentioned - but their faces? Oh yes they’re etched in my brain. It was really nice to see so many people. 
Keith’s comedy performance was the same routine until the very end, where he added a sort of “thank you” to everyone who came. He wanted to show everyone, it’s hard to explain, really. It was beautiful of course, and it bent my heart. To be honest, it did draw a tear from my eye, but it’s ok, I am still a man here, alright? He performed a song and I don’t know its name, but it sounded a lot like country. The words on their own were very powerful, about each person having a candle representing their spirit, and how we should be responsible for finding those whose candles are out, go to them and help them by showing our own light, in hopes theirs will ignite. It was really how he signed it and told the story, though. It was so powerful to see this on stage and realize it was just like watching a music video, like the ones you see on MTV or other stations. When you watch a video, it has its story in English words, but the video itself tells a story, too, just like a movie does. Keith’s performance was just like that - a music video.
I just sat there, jaw on the floor in awe of what I was seeing. So Keith, I just want to say “thank you”. That performance really touched my heart, and that was a wonderful experience, so thank you.
Afterwards was the second performance by Wink, entitled “My Father’s Gift”. It wasn’t really a comedy, but a more serious look at his parents, who are Deaf. It was really interesting to see at the beginning of his performance how he explained his parents’ backgrounds growing up (the family dynamic, what kinds of schools they went to, etc). I noticed it was very similar to my family. His father and mine both went to schools for the Deaf when they were 5 years old, so they got to be around other deaf children the entire time, signed, and interacted. The contrast was interesting to see that his mother and my own, when they were of age for school, were both sent to public schools by their own parents, with nothing more than some hearing aids and a push out the door with the hopes they would learn to speak. I’m pretty sure Wink’s mom was in the public school system through graduation. My mother was in public school until about 12 or 13 years old. Her parents noted that her improvement was insignificant, so they felt it was perhaps best to send her to a school or the deaf, and she finally got to go. To see how their stories were similar was really cool, and helped me to relate even more. 
He told the story of how his parents had met, how his father had fallen in love with her, and that was a beautiful story. Later on they had a baby girl (Wink’s older sister). Wink was the second child. In his performance he became both of his parents. The story truly broke my heart, but knowing how he survived, well, I have to say that his story, compared to Keith’s ASL song, it’s like this. Keith’s brought a tear to my eye. However, Wink’s story had me removing my glasses to wipe the many tears from my face and looking around to make sure no one saw me. That. 
The story was so powerful, seeing those Deaf have so much inner strength, love and everything else you could mention. It was during that time (part of the story) that his father’s strength was the solitary reason for Wink being born. Now as an adult this is how Wink thanks him. It really is his father’s gift.
I want to sum up here. Keith’s performance really touched my heart. Wink’s was so powerful, not only did it touch my heart, but at the same time, it ripped it open, and then healed it to be even stronger because of what happened in that story. His father’s strength, the love for his family, for his wife, that whole thing - wow - that - really made me feel inspired. It’s really a wonderful story about “Deaf Can”, “Deaf Strong”, and “Do Deaf Need Hearing People? No!” That was impressive. We CODAs carry around a “Deaf heart” inside of us, and that story touched mine, making such an impact that it will be in my mind and heart forever. That’s what I want to say, to Wink, “Thank you. I want to let you know that seeing your performance, your comedy show, and other experiences I’ve had with you whether it was the interview or just hanging out, you’ve left a mark on my life, and that’s a true inspiration for me. Thank you. To Keith, thank you as well. Both of you guys are awesome!
So all this rambling about the show and how it affected me by breaking my heart, mending it, yada yada, does have a purpose. I want all of you - those of you who haven’t yet seen Wink and Keith perform - to go online, right now. Well that’s just dumb of me, you guys are already watching this vlog (or reading this blog). So let’s do this. When this video (or blog) is finished, I want you to go to or It doesn’t matter which one you go to, just search their page for a tour schedule. If you find that they are coming to your area, by all means, please, don’t be patient, and certainly don’t wait. Grab those tickets. Bring your friends and your family, everybody. Bring them all and watch the show. I know your hearts will be impacted the same way mine has been. 
Until next time,

R. M.