Did you know there are probably 300,000 people in the USA who are mute? Really! The problem is the numbers my not be accurate. No where does anyone fill in a government form that says I’m mute! So the numbers are complied from several sources and it’s believed that 300,000 is on the low side.
Deafness and muteness often go together. Mainly because if someone doesn’t hear, they usually don’t do much talking.
I’ve been lucky to been blessed with friends who have had disabilities. To see a deaf-mute couple, raise two normal children and play with their normal grandchildren, is wonderful. I remember when my daughter was selling Girl Scout cookies. I made her go to the door of the deaf-mute couple. Just as many other people are afraid to approach and speak to a deaf-mute, so was she. I explained that they had a doorbell that flashes a light. Just hand them the forms. I practically threatened her. I can still remember her standing on their doorstep begging me not to do it.
She gathered her courage and pushed the button. When the woman answered, my daughter handed over the forms. The woman waved to me. What seemed like a lifetime later, my daughter emerged, grinning from ear to ear. They hadn’t had those cookies since their daughter was little. They showed my daughter everything from the TV with words on the screen (a big deal back then) to their special phone, etc. That was it, my daughter was hooked, and they adored her.
My daughter took her friends to see all the gizmos in that house. If I lost her in the neighborhood, the odds were I’d find her bike parked by their door. The woman made lemonade from scratch! She’d even let my daughter squeeze the lemons.
The woman told me later that because my daughter would come visit, the neighbors suddenly began to wave and say hello. The neighborhood no longer treated them as though they didn’t exist. The woman could speak, although it was very flat and not always easy to understand. She worked for a law office and was a paralegal. He was an engineer. People who knew them accepted their disabilities. Those who didn’t would back away.
In my newest book, Campaign, A River City Novel, the heroine is mute from a riding accident as a child. She’s coping in a vocal world. Her mother barely knows how to sign and her father never really learned. She went to a school for children with disabilities, then went to college, only to return with her teaching certificate to teach where she had once been a student. Through her dorm mate from college, she’s introduced to Brad Shoemaker. Their online dating became a strong friendship, and he invited her to visit with the idea of taking the friendship to the next level. And that’s where the story starts, except no one told him she was mute.
Don’t think it could happen? I know someone who is married to a deaf mute. They met at college. ASL or American Sign Language is often taught as a language in high schools and college. The woman I know figured it was easier than taking a foreign language. The professor told the class about a special “silent” dinner where no talking was allowed but they could use sign language. He offered them extra credit if they went. Considering she was a typical student who hated to study, she figured she needed the extra credit. So she went. There was this gorgeous guy at another table. She drooled her way through the meal and went the next time they had such a dinner, and the next, and the next, and the next until she finally caught his eye. They started to sign to each other and he asked her out. She figured he was there for extra credit, too. Imagine her surprise when she discovered he was deaf and mute! Seriously she’s a beautiful young woman who probably could have had any guy based on her looks alone. She fell in love and they are happily married.
In Campaign, Brad Shoemaker has political aspirations. He wanted a wife who could help him along the way. He may have fallen in love with Ryn before actually meeting her, but her muteness tosses a different light on his goals. Ryn has her own problems which includes depression. She’s making her way in a world that doesn’t understand disabilities. But it’s a constant battle for acceptance.
Here’s a snippet where Ryn meets Brad’s family for the first time.
Ryn looked at Brad and spelled tea.
“I doubt that. Do you know what sweet tea is?”
“Okay. Are you sure you don’t want coffee?”
She shook her head and spelled, “Ice?”
Brad grabbed a glass and filled it with ice from the large stainless steel refrigerator that looked out of place in the older kitchen.
“Don’t be so shy and don’t let him boss you around.” Mrs. Shoemaker fixed several more glasses of sweet tea.
Ryn smiled as a silent giggle shook in her chest. No man was going to run over her under any circumstances.
“Mom. I’m not bossing her around.” He handed Ryn her tea.
The cold, super-sweet liquid cooled her throat. She wondered how long it would take before they realized she was mute.
Brad’s mom turned a knob on the old stove and peeked under a pot’s lid. “Just a second and I’ll show you the deck we built this spring. We did it ourselves. Bought the plans and the lumber. It wasn’t very difficult, except Brad’s dad wouldn’t let me use any of the power tools. I held, and he screwed everything together.” She wiped her hands on a towel and headed for the back door. “Stay here and talk to your father. I’ll show Ryn our handiwork.”
Ryn looked at Brad, and he shrugged. She followed the woman into the backyard. The huge deck took up most of the yard, and what was left was mostly rose gardens. The honey-spiced scent of roses made her inhale deeply and follow her nose to the containers filled with yellow roses. Sun Sprinkles. She signed, “My favorite.”
Mrs. Shoemaker stared at her and Ryn smiled back. She’ll figure it out. Another spicy scent hit her nose and she spotted the Cheddar Pink Carnations. It seemed as if every flower was grown for its beauty and fragrance. Ryn grinned. Then admired the deck and gave Mrs. Shoemaker a thumbs-up sign.
“Honey, I don’t bite. You don’t have to be afraid to talk to me.”
Ryn smiled. Pay attention. I am talking. She signed, “I am mute.”
The woman cocked her head and furrowed her brow.
“I am mute.”
Ryn closed her eyes. Hatred for being called dumb crawled up the back of her neck. She was an intelligent woman. She opened her eyes and shook her head. Slowly she spelled mute.
The woman turned and went back inside.
Ryn stood on the deck. She knew the woman meant no harm, and her reaction wasn’t at all surprising, but Ryn wasn’t expecting it, at least not from Brad’s parents. She had two choices, she could follow Mrs. Shoemaker back inside or she could give Brad a few minutes with his parents. Giving Brad a chance to straighten out the situation was fine with her.
She ducked as a pair of young male hummingbirds whizzed by her and then fought over the feeder that hung from a shepherd’s hook next to the deck. The tiny yard was alive with birds and bees. The edge of the deck was a perfect place to sit and admire the peaceful beauty that surrounded her.
When she heard the back door open, she turned expecting to see Brad, but instead she saw his dad. He sat beside her and wrung his hands.
“My wife’s in there crying. She’s afraid you won’t like us or our son.”
“Why?” she signed.
The man looked at her so she took his hand and wrote in his palm, “Why?”
“We didn’t know. Thought the cat got your tongue.”
“It’s ok,” she wrote in his palm.
“He said you had a computer that you used to communicate, but it got lost the other night.”
“I’m sorry. From what he said it’ll turn up. No one in that crowd would steal it.”
She patted the deck and gave him a thumbs-up sign.
“Took us five weekends to build it. My wife’s real proud of it.”
Ryn grinned and pointed to the gardens.
“It’s our hobby.”
Ryn sniffed and then signed, “Sun Sprinkles.”
He took a pen and folded piece of paper from a pocket. “Want to write?”
She grinned and took the proffered items. “Sun Sprinkles.”
“You know about roses?”
She shook her head and pointed to her words on the page. “Sun Sprinkles.”
“Yes, that’s what they are.” He stood and offered her his hand. “I know what you need.”
She followed him inside. He took a dry erase board from the side of the refrigerator and handed it to her.
Brad was standing by his mom and an older couple was sitting at the table.
“These are my grandparents.”
Ryn shook hands with both of them.
“Pleased to meet you, young lady,” the man almost hollered.
“Granddad, she can hear. She just can’t talk.”
I have Campaign specially priced at 99 cents for a few days for my loyal readers. So grab it quick before the price goes to its regular price. Just as all my River City novels have strong mainstream elements so does this, but I promise there’s the happily-ever-after that you want in a romance. It’s available at Amazon only! If that’s a problem, let me know and I’ll send you a copy in whatever format you need. I want to keep all my readers happy!