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Susan Laycock is the eldest of Bill and Peggy Dixon’s five children. Both Bill and Peggy were profoundly deaf. Of their five children, which included two sets of twins, only their son Philip was deaf. Susan and her other siblings were hearing. Sadly both Bill and Peggy have now passed away along with Philip. Here we share Susan’s eulogy to her father Bill (William), because of the insight it gives into a hearing child growing up in the deaf community.
We said goodbye to our dear dad William Ernest Dixon, on the 12th June which would have been my mum and dads 69th Wedding Anniversary and was my sister Sally Putt and Steve’s 36th Anniversary.
He was 96 years young and although he had dementia he still managed to engage with people with his cheeky bubbly loving personality.
I was brought up in a deaf household, being the eldest of five children. My siblings were two sets of twins, Philip and John were followed by Michael and Sally. Philip was the only one that inherited the deaf gene.
Throughout my life people have said to me Oh! It must have been difficult for you growing up in a deaf family…No!
Do your parents talk to you?….Yes!
Do your parents understand you? ….Yes!
Can your parents tell jokes?….Yes!
Do you get told off?….Yes! and I can remember getting sent to bed with the threat of the cane above the lounge door!
Can your dad drive?….Well actually not until he was 52 and then he passed second time!
Oh! I feel sorry for you life must have been hard…….No! No! I have to say it was the best family environment that I could have ever wished for!
We always had love, laughter, praise, support, kindness, direction and fun in our lives.
Especially at the Romford Deaf Club – how I loved that place. We went there most Saturdays and sometimes on a Wednesday.
To this day I can remember the building, the outings, the parties , the dancing, the laughter, the different types of voices not always intelligible to hearing people.
Most of all mum and dad’s lovely friends and their children. It was a great place and best of all nobody ever told us off if we made too much noise.
The long drawn out goodbyes that could go on until the early hours. Such fun! My children also loved the deaf club as my parents used to take them there when they stayed with them. They too have lovely memories of their grandparents.
We were taught right from wrong, to have moral values and to respect and love not only ourselves but each other.
We were also taught that you had to work hard to get the best out of life. We always had a lovely home and I know we have all followed his example.
He taught me so much, how to decorate, he always listened , gave advice when I needed it and never ever criticised me when I made silly mistakes. He was always there when I needed him especially when I needed a shoulder to cry on.
Him and mum were very supportive when I felt lost, whilst going through a dark lonely and difficult period of my life. They were there to hold my hand and they helped me with love, comfort, guidance and encouragement to become strong again so I could move on and make a new life for myself.
I know that he was proud not only of me but of all my dear brothers and sister. He was proud of all his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He has left behind a great legacy!
Best of all he taught me how important it is to be part of a loving family and how how to try and and bring up my children with his strong family values, principles and most of all give them deep love, praise and always let them know how proud I am of them and I do!
So to all of you that don’t understand what it’s like to grow up in a deaf family I want you to know that it was an honour and a privilege to be part of the deaf community. I am proud that sign language is my first language and that I am a CODA!
I am happy because I know that dad is with our mum again and will be having quality time with our brother Philip who was his shadow for the first six years of his life.
I was so lucky to have him for my dad, I loved every moment of being with him and my mum.
He was my hero and my rock and I will love him always.
Till we meet again
Love you dad.
With thanks to Matt Dixon for suggesting this article.
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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