The Language That Kept Calling Me


John: This is John back in the studio with Reet. I just heard about Reet, did I hear right, that you just went back to college, and you have a degree in college? And what is your degree?

Reet: I have a certification in ASL which is American Sign Language.

John: My understanding is I went to college, 17, 18, 19, graduated at 20. Most people go to college when they are 18 to 20 years old. Are you 20 years old?

Reet: No, John, I’m actually 74.

John: So, you’re 74 and you just got a degree from the university. I think that’s a great story. Why did you go to college at that age?

Reet: Well, I’m going to tell you. It’s another true story. Here we go.

I live in a condo with my husband in Brookfield. And one day it was hot, it was in the summer. There was a guy. He was on a ladder, and he was cleaning the debris from the gutters. He is taking the debris, and dropping it, dropping it, dropping it. So, I come outside, I come outside, and I am looking at him, and say “Excuse me, but would you like a basket or a bag or something to put that debris into?” Because I planted flowers here and all this stuff is on my flowers. So, he didn’t answer me.

So, I waited a couple more seconds, and said, “Excuse me, do you need a basket, or a bag, or something to put the debris in?” He didn’t answer me.

Now, I’m getting pissed, because all that stuff is falling on my flowers. I walked over to the ladder, and I shook it. And I shook the ladder, John.

All of a sudden, this man turns around, and he starts signing me. Signing. I had no idea he was deaf. How would I know he is deaf? I felt terrible. I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” I didn’t know what to say. But how do you talk? Signing wha, wha, wha. Never mind, never mind. And that stuck, in my heart.

That had to be about 10 years ago.

Fast forward, I saw him again, this guy. He was at the bank, M&T Bank. It used to be People’s Bank. Well, the cash withdrawal machine was broken. And he was in a truck. I pulled in, and he pulled in right behind me. I didn’t know it was him. So, I’m looking at the machine was broken, so I got out of my car, walked over, and said, “Excuse me,” and there he was again. My God. “Excuse me.” I didn’t know sign language. But I said, “The machine is broken, broken.”

So he was okay about it. But it stuck in me that this man is back in my life again. I don’t know if he quit the job. I don’t know what the story was, but he was no longer there. The 2 times I saw him, I could not communicate with him.

Then I said, “You know, Reet, you’ve got to learn this.” So, I went. They had a class at Naugatuck Valley. So I went there. Then after I finished that class, I said, “No, I need to get a certification in I went to Northwestern Community College. That was a trip and a half, going up there, 3 times a week I would go up there. It’s supposed to take 2 years, but it took me 3 years because I was going part time. So, I got my certification.

Then I got a job as a deaf coach, for the deaf community. So, I have a lot of deaf friends.

John: So, another man and the change he had in your life.

Reet: Yes, another man. A deaf man.

By Reet

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Date Recorded: 
Tuesday, March 19, 2024
Date Posted: 
Tuesday, March 19, 2024
Type of GEM: 
GEM of the Day: 
Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Issues Addressed: 
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