Phil Eastwood: My memories of having a deaf mother, that returned when she wrote her book

Posted on November 10, 2015

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My mother, Susan Eastwood, has written a book about her deafness, called Isolated World.

She asked me to put my thoughts into words about growing up with a deaf mother, but I wasn’t sure why.

I didn’t have a bad childhood, I don’t feel I was held back by my mother’s disability, I’ve never felt that she was a hindrance to me. I suppose that’s why it is useful to put my thoughts into words, because of what a great job she did with us, especially on her own.

In primary school, I felt that my school mates had a respect for my mother and deafness. I was never taunted or bullied about my mother; in fact, they seemed to treat me better for it. That’s how I felt anyway. On the odd occasion that my friends would be invited round, I would introduce them to my mother and they would try their best to communicate.

My mother has asked me some questions that she wanted to me answer on here, but I found the questions confusing. I will try to explain.

Mam asked me how much of a pain it was that I couldn’t shout her from upstairs, while she was downstairs?

She’s asked how much of a burden it was to have to help her communicate with other people when we were shopping or she needed something.

She also asked me how much it bothered me that my friends’ parents could hear and mine couldn’t?

But I never knew anything other than this way. I had nothing to compare it to. This is why I’ve never felt that I’ve been at a disadvantage in any situation.

Once Mam told me she was writing her book, I reflected on my childhood and a couple of memories came back to me.

For example; when Jamie and I would play with our friends outside, Mam would want us to stay close to the house, but my friends could go and play in other streets. We were never allowed to play outside when it was dark, yet my friends could play on the front.

If we ever wandered off, Mam would come and find us within minutes and send us home. Now I completely understand why this was. Mam couldn’t hear us playing outside, so she needed to be able to see us at all times.

I do have one particular memory that really sticks in my mind about growing up with a single and deaf mother. Jamie and I were about 8-10 years old and a new family moved in over the road. One of their kids was called Peter. He was about 13 and really tall, so Jamie and I looked up to him (pardon the pun).

He made friends with a lot of kids his own age, but my friends and his friends all hung around the same street. One day, Peter and his friends were taking the mick out of me and Jamie. I can’t remember what it was about but we both came home quite upset.

We told Mam what had happened and within seconds, her coat and shoes were on and she was out the door looking for him. I remember looking out of the window and see her standing and shouting at him, which he and his friends thought was really funny.

When Mam came home, she told us that she had told him off. The next day, while we were out playing, Peter decided to have another go at us, again, I can’t remember why. Jamie and I were upset and came home, but we didn’t want to tell Mam, as we knew she would go and find him again.

We eventually told her because she knew something was up. She went out to find him again and she did. This time there were more of Peter’s friends there, all laughing as Mam gave him what for. For Peter, this was a great way to take the mick out of someone and it was obvious that he taunted us so he and his friends could stand and laugh at her.

It’s the most painful memory of my childhood, because we were all powerless to do anything about it because he was surrounded by his friends and we were only small. I look back now and regret not trying to do more, but we were only kids and we were intimidated.

Peter has probably forgotten that all of this happened, for me, it was over 20 years ago but I still think about it now.

Phil Eastwood is married with two children and loves spending time with his family. He is a passionate gamer who loves to make YouTube videos.

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The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.

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