CREDOS : Music of life — I

A high school guidance counsellor urged me to apply for a college scholarship for people who had “overcome tremendous disadvantages” while pursuing an education. He told me that if I wrote an essay about how difficult it was to grow up with hearing-impaired parents (deaf father, hard-of-hearing mother), I’d be a “shoo-in” to win. “It wasn’t that difficult,” I told him. “I don’t think it’s fair for me to write this.” “Of course it was difficult,” he said. “You’re just being modest.”

The money was tempting. All I had to do was write a few hundred words about how I always had to interpret for my parents and make phone calls for them. Throw in a couple of weepy one-liners about “lack of a childhood” and “having too much responsibility too soon” and the contest judges would choose me as the winner.

The truth is, though, when I look back on my childhood, the things I remember are road trips to the Grand Canyon, the swing set in our backyard, and gathering every night for dinner at 6:00. I remember my father giving me books to read so that we could have long talks about them when I was finished.

I hate using the word “disability” to talk about my parents. Sometimes they were at an advantage: in a noisy restaurant, we were all able to have a pleasant conversation. Often, I considered myself lucky. I was bilingual. I could play my music as loud as I wanted. More importantly, I had two parents who loved and supported me. —