Growing up, the sign-language symbol for "I love you" was always how we said goodbye. Now it means more, proof of God's love.
Posted in , Feb 28, 2008
Mom grew up with two deaf parents. A lot of people might be frustrated by that situation, but Mom embraced it. She devoted her life to helping the deaf as a sign-language interpreter. From the time we were little, my sister and I picked up all the signs, especially the one for "I love you"—the two middle fingers bent inward, the index finger, pinkie and thumb extended. That's how we always said goodbye.
When she was in her forties, Mom got sick. Cancer. Even so, she cared more about me and my sister than she did about herself, always making sure we were okay. "Don't worry about me; focus on your work," she said about my job at Buffalo Wireworks, making screens and cutting sheet metal. Were they treating me well? she wanted to know. Did my work gloves protect my hands? Mom grew weaker. After a year-long battle, she died.
It was two weeks before I could drag myself back into work. Walking into the metal shop that first day, I tried hard to focus. But I just missed Mom so much. I walked over to my station to grab my gloves and goggles and get ready for the day.
The first thing I noticed were my gloves, on the table, not usually where I left them, lying neatly side by side, as if someone had put them there. That's strange, I thought. Then I noticed something startling. The right glove was crumpled a bit. The two middle fingers were bent inward, the index finger, pinkie and thumb extended. The sign for "I love you."
It was Mom's way of telling me things would be okay.