The Sound of Silence

Friday, October 20, 2023

Copyright 2019 by Myron Uhlberg

Myron Uhlberg and I entered the world in 1933, babies with normal hearing born to Deaf parents. Thus, we began life with instant adversity our common base, yet to be influenced by our parents, our experiences, and our perception of ourselves and others.

Interestingly, Mr. Uhlberg has written books for children describing his experiences growing up in his family and a memoir, “Hands of My Father,” and I, too, have written a book for children and a memoir, “Adventures of a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults” (2016). Each of us has a website, as well, but I think the similarities likely end there.

He writes as a boy whose deaf mother and father had been limited in communicating with their normally hearing parents. While his mother had never heard or thought about sound, his father had heard until the age of three, so he overwhelmed the boy, seemingly forever, with impossible questions about the sounds in the world around them, questions that had no real answers. What’s more, he plied the boy with responsibilities way beyond his capabilities. It’s no wonder that this boy felt sorry for himself, and it is not surprising that, in adulthood, he described his life in the deaf world as a “struggle.”

In this book, Mr. Uhlberg states that, when he left for college, he “left his deaf world forever,” leaving his parents behind. I could almost hear his sigh of relief. After graduating from college, His mission became to serve his country in uniform during World War II, then, perhaps influenced by his father’s emphasis on wearing proper clothing, he established a successful clothing business.

My life with deaf parents, however, differed dramatically. Though I married and left the Deaf World for a time, I returned in my retirement to advocate for all deaf people within my sphere of influence. My goal was--and still is--to act upon my father’s request, to teach the hearing population to understand those who are deaf and to communicate with them in sign, thus bridging the deaf and hearing worlds.

I heartily recommend that you read THE SOUND OF SILENCE and Mr. Uhlberg’s memoir, “Hands of My Father,” because they illustrate how each CODA’s book about deaf parents is unique according to the influence of those parents, our experiences, and our perceptions of ourselves and others.