So where did I get this thirst for learning, my eclectic curiousity and love of reading, puzzles and games? I like to think it is a natural part of me, that it’s just the way I am. But I know a lot of it came from my parents.
My mother was a registered nurse. When my dad was stationed in Cleveland, Ohio, she was not allowed to work due to restrictions by my dad’s employer. I had started Grade 7, my brother was in Grade 11 and the two oldest in university. Mom had just come off full-time work at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa for two years; the pace and content of a diplomat’s wife was simply insufficient. Wanting to use her skills, she approached the Red Cross about volunteering for the blood donor clinic. They said they had a glut of people for that service, and she didn’t by any chance type Braille? They were desperate for Braille transcribers.
So Mom took the learning materials and started studying. Sitting in the car waiting to collect my brother from track practice, she had me drill her on the letters and the rules. A Braille typewriter was obtained and reams of practice sheets were hammered out. It seemed so difficult to me – like learning another language. Mom persevered. She eventually did books for university students and for the Library of Congress. I absorbed all this, but it was not until I was older that I appreciated the work and commitment that went into this new skill. My mom’s hands were always busy: she embroidered, smocked, did knitting… watching her fingers tap out the Braille alphabet on a practice card she carried with her seemed part of those pursuits.
My Dad had his career, which entailed not just the 9 to 5 office gig, but also extensive entertaining. No social media in those dark ages you see, so networking was exclusively face-to-face and very time-consuming. 🙂 Rare moments of relaxation were filled with books, newspapers (including the crossword puzzles and bridge problems contained therein) and magazines. He liked to keep his mind busy. When we moved to India, his mind was beyond busy. Dad was fascinated by the culture, economics, agriculture, geography – well, in short by India. He said “I’m learning something every day. My ideas and my intellect are constantly challenged.”
What I learned from their example was to never lose that curiousity and to actively seek ways to help, ways to engage. They are gone now but thanks mom, thanks dad.