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Personal Reflection: A Silent World

on July 13, 2012

Today I read the inspiring words at the left posted on facebook by Kathleen Reeser Hill. How true are these words! I read it over and over again thinking of our daughter, Nicole, and the persecution she faced in growing up, especially during her middle school years. I would like to share a little of Her Story.

When Nicole was born on March 28, 1981, I was overjoyed for I so much wanted a daughter. A son had already blessed our family two years earlier but two miscarriages destined us to seemingly having only the one child.

When the miracle happened, never did I envision how the new life set before me would be the beginning of overwhelming challenges for both of us. Hers was not an easy birth and she entered the world at 9 lbs 13 ozs already with determination written all over her face. She was not one of these babies born with a headfull of hair but only a tiny tuff on the top of her head. I was so excited wanting everyone to know the long awaited daughter had finally arrived that I scotch taped a tiny pink ribbon to that tiny tuff!

Being around the children more than their father placed me in the situation where I almost felt like their only caretaker and sometimes instances would go unnoticed, not from neglect by any means, but simply from being a working Mother and trying to keep the household together. It was on a weekend when my parents were visiting that my dad questioned whether Nicole could hear. She was eighteen months old, and that day was the beginning of a totally unforeseen ending ahead…

A trip to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL and many tests, tests, tests later confirmed that she was 80% deaf. The doctor was so rude he told us she would never hear well enough to amount to anything in society. Then, to top that off her father insisted she could NOT be his child because she was ‘imperfect’. Can you imagine what went through my heart, mind and soul on that day?!. This was our daughter, a gift from God!

Nicole – 3 yrs old

The next couple of years were unimaginable. She was easily agitated, totally frustrated as she tried to understand the world around her and communicate her wants, needs and feelings. Temper tantrums would result in such unruliness that her father would walk out demanding, “That is YOUR daughter, YOU deal with it!” A lot transpired within that time span which led to. . .well, doing exactly that, I dealt with it…without him. He came home one too many times to a dinner table set for four to only brush us aside and say HE was going out for dinner.

The kids and I moved out and on. Then, I met Jim who was soon to become the Dad she had never had: The man in her life that would not give in nor give up on her, the one who would work with her day in, day out making sure she listened. Yes! I do mean listen. She was first aided with over the ear hearing aids connected to chest packs that brought her hearing within 80% capacity. Remember, in the beginning, she was diagnosed as 80% deaf which allowed for only 20% hearing. [I can recall the embroidered designs on little vest pockets where ‘eyes’ of various animals became the holes for the microphones of the hearing aids. These have long been replaced with ones so tiny you don’t even notice she is wearing them.]

There are stories upon stories about her hearing aids – the time she became so frustrated she buried them in the sandbox at daycare, the time they were retrieved from the garbage can, the time the dog chewed them up, the numerous times they just simply went missing, etc. Then, there was the turmoil that churned on the inside that she dealt with on a daily basis and the persecution beyond words from her peers whose cruelty was unfathomable. She excelled, however, at all grade levels even being admitted to an advanced program in high school only to forfeit that status in the second semester of her senior year in order to transfer to a different school.

None of that feigned her determination. She beat them all! She went on to receive her Associate’s Degree from Santa Fe Community College in Gainsville, FL, then on to the University of Florida (GO Gators!) where she received her BS Degree in Marketing. Now she is working on her Masters, but has ventured into Financial Analysis with aspirations of obtaining her Doctorate. And this is a child who was born 80% deaf, told by a doctor that she would never amount to anything, rejected by her father BUT has already accomplished more than most of her high school classmates! And, she will tell you very quickly she has the best Daddy in the whole world!

John and Nicole Reina

She is married and has two beautiful daughters, Natalie and Catalina, both of whom at birth passed Florida’s mandatory hearing test!

To Nicole and all those whose world might be on the quiet side. . .

A Silent World

I called and called your name
Why didn’t you answer?
You were so close—
A vision of loveliness

Your wonderful smile
Upon a laughing face
Concealed a lonely place—
A world of silence

Over and over the same refrain
Thinking I was just ignored
Irritated and exhausted—
A game of annoyance

Suddenly becoming perfectly clear
After I called louder and louder
Heartache and tears revealed—
A moment of sadness

Through the years of special care
Hours and hours, frustration and tears
Overjoyed with anticipation—
A day of hope

Confirmation finally came
No longer a silent world
You turned and smiled
When I called your name

When you call someone’s name
Why don’t they answer?
Think before you repeat
Theirs may be a silent world

Sharla Lee Shults

26 responses to “Personal Reflection: A Silent World

  1. What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing. I hope your first husband has found peace in his tortured soul. He has missed out on such a blessing because he was too blind to see what a treasure he had in his family. He was the one with the imperfection and the true disability.

    • catnipoflife says:

      You hit the nail right square on the head! I actually saw him two years ago at my mother’s funeral. Could not believe he just showed up! He has cancer and is trying to make amends ‘in his final days.’ I never talked bad about him in front of the children. I allowed them to learn for themselves which they did. He will always be their father but will never have the admiration of being their Daddy!

  2. Sharla,
    This is another great blog and it so triggered what our daughter and our family faced from the not so understanding world around us. We adopted our beautiful daughter from VietNam and the many harsh words were ones that went on for years because she was different. A school superintendant told us once he did not want to allow her in school because “Asians were known to be mentally stupid and she would never be able to keep up!” A court order fixed that but I had to go to school and police them so she was not be treated badly. She now is so far ahead of most everyone she went to school with having a degree in Micro-Biology! We are so very proud of her and your story shows us just how narrow minded the world can be.
    Thank you for sharing, as maybe the general population will wake up and raise their own to be accepting of those around them for whatever their differences may be.

    • catnipoflife says:

      Mamie, thank you so much for sharing your own personal experience. If only everyone would take into consideration how special life is for each and every person. That is one of the beauties of blogging – really getting to know people from all over the world even if it is in virtual space. But, who knows what travels and ventures might bring us together face-to-face:>)

  3. Connye says:

    Ms. Hill has posted a message we should all keep close to our hearts to inspire our actions. Your essay enriches our convictions, I hope. Thank you.

    • catnip says:

      Connye, thank you for stopping by catnip and I am glad you felt the posting provided enrichment. I visited your website but could not find reference to Ms. Hill. Perhaps you could provide the connection.

  4. lgyslaine says:

    This testimony does not let me insensile, but demonstrates that when one is deprived of a sense it develops other skills. In her misery, she was fortunate to be well surrounded. I’m happy that she can make her life normally. Disability should not be considered a defect and those affected should not be rejected. Have a nice weekend

  5. What an inspiring story! You have to take some doctors with a grain of salt–my mother’s doctor told her I’d be better off if I died after my birth because I would be both blind and mentally retarded. What a beautiful picture of John and Nicole–they look so happy! Thanks for sharing your family with us!

    • catnip says:

      Whoa, Sandra, doctors can be totally insensitive with the worst bedside manners of all! Blessings to you, dear friend! You definitely proved your mother’s doctor wrong! Just like me, I am sure what he said made your mother even more determined to prove him wrong. Yes, John and Niki are very happy. Niki is just often her own worse enemy – working, going to school and taking care of a family.

  6. pennycoho says:

    For me your post today is intensely personal. I can imagine and know how your daughter must have felt. My heart, love and prayers to her for bravery and endurance also her loving mommy and new daddy – and all the ones who care.

    • catnip says:

      She certainly had a lot of caring and loving people helping her through the troublesome years. My only regret was that I did not learn about a lot that transpired, especially with so-called friends, until much later in life. When she finally opened up, it was like a dam bursting.

  7. Vaishali Jain says:

    All I can say is that I am too happy for you, Sharla. It needs courage to march on without any support but love to give you strength. Difficult times, I know, but isn’t it just too wonderful to see the fruit of your compromises and verve?

    Thank you for sharing this heroic journey with us. Please know that it’s appreciated and the thought behind your poem is BEAUTIFUL…..
    When you call someone’s name
    Why don’t they answer?
    Think before you repeat
    Theirs may be a silent world

    I salute you! Respect!

    • catnipoflife says:

      I have been overwhelmed with the responses to this post, much like I was when I first read the poster on facebook. It is sad how cruel youngsters can truly be:>( Niki called me tonight in tears when she got the message about the post. I know for her the tears were brought on from memories that are both happy and sad. She is such a wonderful lady and I am truly blessed to be her mother!

  8. Micki Peluso says:


    What a wonderful , inspiring post. It made me cry for all those years of torture. Both you and Nicole have proved that such times only make one stronger and more likely to succeed. There are no disabled children –just disabled, biased people . Give Nicole a hug from me!! And thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    Love, Micki

    • catnipoflife says:

      Micki, you are so right about people being disabled and biased. It is so sad because so much of the cruelty comes from those too young to truly understand the damage being inflicted. We will be visiting Niki in September for many overdue hugs! [She lives in south Florida near Miami.] You and your family continue to be in my daily prayers.

  9. linneann says:

    Sharla, I had not idea. Heartwarming story and I’m so happy for your happy ending. Thank you for sharing. No wonder your poetry is so beautiful.

  10. I am blessed and encouraged by your story, your family. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Mondrak says:

    To read that moving story brought me to tears.

    You have done a great job with her which has lead to her to be as good as she is.

  12. […] Today I read the inspiring words at the left posted on facebook by Kathleen Reeser Hill. How true are these words! I read it over and over again thinking of our daughter, Nicole, and the persecutio…  […]

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