Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Deaf Isn't Dumb by Author Tara Chevrestt

Do You Have a Dream?
I had a dream. From the time I was a little girl and donned my father's BDUs when he got off work, boots, glasses, hat and all, I wanted to fly F16s.
At the age of eleven, an uncle said to me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I said, "I'm gonna join the Air Force and fly F16s."
"You can't even be in the military! You're deaf!"
Ehhhh. At the time, my  mother was pissed at my uncle. My mother said, "Don't tell her that!" To me, she would say, "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."
We were never able to cross it. My uncle was right. The military doesn't accept the handicapped. Hell, I couldn't even fly commercial. My uncle, in a way, did me a favor. By the time I got to that bridge and saw there was no way to cross it, I'd braced myself.
But I didn't give up. Know what I did instead? I went to A&P school and got myself a license. I worked on F100s, MD80s, A300s, B757s, A10 Warthogs, and finally, F16s.
So…do you have a dream? Has someone told you can't do it? Then get as close to it as you can, but don't give up entirely.
Excerpt From Deaf Isn't Dumb:
Uncle Rob turned his aged face my way and asked me what every old person asks the young. "What are you planning to be when you grow up?"
I immediately proceeded to puff out my little flat chest underneath my T-shirt and beamed at him proudly. "I'm going to be a pilot in the Air Force!"
Thoughts of my father in his fatigues popped into my head. From the time I was three years old, I would eagerly await my father to come home and take off his uniform so that I could don the military apparel myself. Despite the fact I was utterly engulfed and hidden by his uniform jacket alone, I would proudly put it on over my Care Bear or He-Man outfit of the day and proceed to run around the house declaring I was in the Air Force too. Even my father's sweaty, smelly hat would be placed on top of my frizzy curls and his aviator sunglasses would be threatening to fall off my face at any moment. None of my father's uniform was safe from my greedy little hands.
When you are three years old, you are invincible. The whole world is ahead of you, waiting for you to grow up and conquer it. You can be whatever you want to be. Wearing your father's clothes makes you as strong, adult, and tough as him—at least in your mind of make-believe. It was the memory of these dreams and the feelings that my father's uniform had given me that allowed me to meet my uncle's gaze with a huge, proud grin on my face. In my mind, I was Air Force material. I was just as tough as my dad. I'd worn the uniform.
As my sneakers excitedly bounced on the floor, my Uncle Rob frowned at me. His Old Spice invaded my nostrils as I eagerly awaited his response. I thought he should be impressed. I had high aspirations for myself, after all. He was not impressed. Remember, this is a war veteran. "You can't join the Air Force," he said, peering down at me. "You can't hear."
My feet, already oversized for my body, ended their excited kicking immediately. I stared at him in dismay. "I can do whatever I want to do!" Oh, the ignorance of youth.
My uncle was quite forceful in his response. "No, you can't. They won't even accept you in the military." He shook his head, most likely marveling at the ignorance of youth himself. "Kids today, whippersnappers."
I pursed my lips and felt my dark eyebrows meeting in the middle of my forehead. I leaned forward so that I could address my mother on the other side of my uncle. "Mom!" I began whining. "Mom, Uncle Rob says that the Air Force won't take me 'cause of my hearing."
If facial expressions could speak, my mother's kind, rosy face would have said, "Uh-oh." She gave Uncle Rob a dirty look and, despite the fact I had so rudely interrupted whatever conversation she had been having with my grandparents in the front of the vehicle, attempted to placate me. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," she said firmly.
I was only a pre-teen, but even I knew what that saying meant and I knew it did not bode well for me at all. I had never visualized myself doing anything more than flying F-16s for the United States Air Force. As my mouth fell open and my eyes grew wide in surprise, I turned to look out my window and watch the outlines of the landscape glide by.
I leaned my forehead on the cool glass as my vision grew bleary with tears that I was refusing to free from my eyes and I had my moment. This was my first inkling that not all careers, avenues, and life choices were going to be available to me. That my hearing, or lack of it, was going to dictate my life path.
You're stupid. You're retarded. You shouldn't have this job. These words lit a fire of determination in one deaf woman who set out to prove to the aviation world…and the world in general that deaf isn't dumb.


Official Blurb: 
Deaf Isn't Dumb is a motivational story of a young woman, Tara, who faces the challenges of growing up "hearing impaired" in a hearing world. Follow her stories as she recounts everything from childhood bullies to work related restrictions and funny misunderstandings from mispronounced words to fear of Federal Air Marshals. In this tale, straight from the heart, learn that simply because one is deaf--contrary to popular misconception--it doesn't mean they are dumb. 


Kayelle Allen said...

Thank you for this post, Tara. Whatever the handicap might be, it doesn't have to hold you back. I think of Martin Luther King Jr saying if you can't fly, drive, if you can't drive, walk, if you can't walk, crawl, but get here... Well "here" can be wherever you want it to be. The spirit will find a way.

When I was in college I met a deaf woman who was able to read lips and could speak quite clearly. She signed to friends and was able to communicate fine with most hearing people. At a church we attended, I noticed two women seated in the balcony on opposite sides of the building. Across the wide room, they chatted away in sign while waiting for the service to start. I remember thinking, "Hmm. Who is it that has the handicap?"

Kudos on going for your dream.

W. Lynn Chantale said...

Hi Tara I applaud you! You are an inspiration for not giving up. Everyday I'm encouraged to be the best at what I can do and to achieve me dreams. Although I am a little jealous that you can drive. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, both of you. :) Kayelle, I have met many people that are just floored I can talk. I get the, "Oh! You talk so well!" every now and then. I just cringe.

J.S. Marlo said...

Tara, I applaud you for not giving up and I applaud your mother for not crushing your dream.

Sometimes dreams are reached, sometimes new paths open up, and sometimes, a dream is destined to remain a dream. But no matter the outcome, the journey is what shapes a person into what she/he will become.

Your journey shaped you into an amazing woman, and your spirit is an inspiration. I'm looking forward to read the book.

Raven McAllan said...

i can only echo what everyone else has said. I salute you hon...

diannehartsock said...

Beautiful post, Tara. This story must have been hard to write but well worth it when you enspire others not to give up on their dreams. Congratulations and thank you. :)

Kelly Yeakle said...

My beautiful friend, you are anything but dumb. You are an inspiration, a joy to have in my life, and I am so thankful that you didn't give up. You could easily have let the world get you down, kill your dreams, and mar your beauty. BUT YOU DIDN'T. You stood your ground and have accomplished so much. NEVER let someone else ruin your happiness. You are a beautiful soul and there are still many roads to travel in your lifetime!!!!! XOXO

Janet said...

Oh dear! Tara, I am so proud of you words fail me. I read this and I cried. I know how much you wanted to fly those F16's it was in your blood. I will not get thru this book with out crying many times. As your mom I remember this just as you wrote it. It was a sad day for me to see your dreams shattered. I also have to say you have over come so much and you have such a giving spirit and loving heart I couldn't ask for a better daughter. Kudos to you my dear.

Anonymous said...

Tara, you are such a special lady...exposing your pain and your fears so that the rest of the world can understand the ups and downs of being deaf in a hearing world. Kudos, Girl! I am so glad you're my friend.