Blind Linda, who has lived with us for over six years, is a St. Patricks Day baby.  She was born in 1949, one of a set of premature twins.  Her sister died, and Linda was one of the first babies to be in an incubator.  They didn’t know that too high a concentration of oxygen would destroy the eyes and affect the brain.  So, though Linda lived, she has been blind pretty much since birth, and was early diagnosed as profoundly mentally retarded.
       After having her for these years, I am pretty certain that she is not as retarded as she is autistic.  She would speak some in the first years of her life, but now she never speaks.
      A wondrous thing happened this morning, though. 
      When I get her up in the mornings, I always sing a song to her.  “Get up, get out of bed, come on, you sleepy head, don’t you know the sun is shining? It’s time for you to rise, the sun is in the skies, don’t you know the sun is shining?” 
      For the last year or so, she has sometimes just hummed along with me when she is in a really good mood.  Just a sort of  “m-m-m-m-m-m” in a happy sort of way.  But this morning, one phrase into the song, I remembered it was her birthday, and said, “Oh, Linda, I just remembered, it’s your birthday!”  So I switched gears and sang, “Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday, dear Linda, Happy Birthday to you!”
      As soon as I started with the first “Happy Birthday to you,”  I became aware that Linda was helping me sing.  “Ha-a-a-a-a-”  She said through the first “Happy Birthday to you.”  Then “Ha-a-a-a-a” again through the second phrase. I’m certainly not a trained musician, but it sounded like she was in tune!  By this time we had traversed the distance between her bed and the potty, and I was ecstatic.  I didn’t break stride or stop singing, but I was grinning from ear to ear.  Suddenly, she seemed to realize what she was doing and stopped abruptly, clamped her mouth down in that determined, stubborn way of hers, and would not budge to open her mouth again. 
      But it didn’t matter on bitty bit to me.  I had heard what I had heard, and it was like the Hallelujah Chorus to my ears.  I don’t think she will ever really speak again, but every now and then there is this spark that tells me that somewhere behind these sightless eyes and silent tongue there is a personality and spirit that is as individually a PERSON as any of us are.  
      “Happy Birthday to you!
       Happy Birthday to you!
       Happy Birthday, Dear Linda,
       Happy Birthday to you!”


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14 responses to “

  1. Thanks for sharing that isn’t that amazing what a joy to be able to work with all these lovely people!! I have always found my experiences with some of these lovely children of God that no one in society really wants to be such a blesssing to me!!!

  2. Did you know that today is Miss Brooks Birthday too!I’ve been wanting to tell you about a site I think you would really enjoy. Innacanoe. She is a gal from Julia’s area in Mississippi. Jewel Knepp Miller is her name. She loves to write and is so gifted at it,(just like you!) She and her daughter are both cancer survivers and now it looks like her husband is battleing the same. She is a jewel and loves to take pictures of churches.

  3. Wow.   I can just imagine how you must have felt.  I have always felt, knowing her story, that her decision to not speak may have been a sorta’ kinda’ semi-conscious one in response to her deep sense of loss, feelings of betrayal, confusion, etc.  What joy her response to your singing this morning!    Thank you So much for sharing.  (For those who don’t remember, Linda was in our care for 27 months a very long time ago.)  Lots of memories.  Some good.  Some better.      What a gal.

  4. Beautiful story! On my site I’ll share an experience I had with my aunt! btw: yes, right away my dear BEG I’ll make the place card with your name on it!

  5. Ahhh Mary Ann, you are surely “doing unto the least of these.”  Jesus is smiling!

  6. BEG, I made a comment on my sister’s site that you might relate to.
    What a lovely story!  As the Mom of one who has especially noticable special needs (don’t we all have special needs?) I found your story very touching.  When I taught first grade I mainstreamed handicapped children into my classroom.  I always had a session with my class about handicaps before the “especially noticable special needs” kids came in.  I asked if there were some things they my students could not do?  That always brought on many seemingly small, but significant issues in their lives. I explained that those are like handicaps and the kids being brought into my classroom just have handicaps that we can see more quickly, but they are the same inside as we are!

  7. amazing post/ now i have someone else who shares my day. Thanks for posting such a remarkable story/

  8. just covering the grey. i am not brave enough to go blond. that would be too drastic a change/

  9. BEG, there is a wonderful movie (I am  hoping it is still available, because it is soooo old) with Cloris Leachman.  I think its name is “The Woman Who Made a Miracle” not to be confused with the Helen Keller story.  It is about a boy that sounds a lot like Linda who was blind noncommunicative, did not walk etc.  She was his foster mother and NEVER gave up on him and he now is a famous idot savant that plays the piano beautifully by ear.  It is an amazing story!  I will research to see if this movie is still out there.

  10. RYC: Miss Brooks party is Sunday not today. Unless I am mistaken…this is Sat. the 18th right? If not I am in a heap of trouble!!! LOL

  11. The movie is not available on my Netflix site so it is “out of print” probably.  It is called. “The Woman that Willed a Miracle”.  It is worth searching in old video collection to find.  What a shame such an inspiring wonderful film could not be put into dvd form and made available to help inspire and educate the masses instead of the wild violent deviant stuff of today.  I think it was a l980’s film.

  12. Bless you for taking these ladies in and the many foster kids as well, your strength amazes me and I am honored to call you my friend as well…I love hearing your stories!

  13. Re:  your comment about wearing green on my site….nobody was pinched.  We all claimed to be wearing green underwear.  =D

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