Future Reflections Fall 2000, Vol. 19 No. 4

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Dreams Can Be Realized

for the Deaf-Blind, Too

by Patrick Cave

Reprinted from Impact, Vol. 12, Number 2, Summer 1999; A Feature Issue on Supporting Transition-Age Young People with Deaf-blindness. Patrick Cave lives in Seattle, Washington. The original title of the article is ďDreams Can Be Realized.Ē

I grew up on a Wisconsin farm with my four brothers and sister. When I was four, my mother died, and my father was left to raise six kids. At age five I started attending St. Johnís School for the Deaf in Milwaukee and was there through 8th grade. I then went to high school at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan. My older brother and I both had Usherís syndrome. Attending the same schools as well as sharing a common language, the two of us were very close. He was killed in a motorcycle accident at age 21; I was 19 at the time.

After several years of finding out where I belonged, I found my home in the Seattle area in 1985 within the deaf-blind community. I teach deaf-blind interpreting class every year in the fall. I team-teach with a hearing instructor, focusing on deaf-blind interpreting strategies and techniques, and on deaf-blind culture. During the course, the students experience a lab we administer in which they are put through a simulation of being deaf-blind. They have commented that itís a real eye-opener.

In addition, since moving here Iíve worked at the Deaf-Blind Service Center and the Lighthouse for the Blind. Iíve now retired from all but the teaching, so my time is mostly my own. During the week I am up by 5:30 a.m. to catch up on the stock market news before the trading starts at 6:30. I have always been interested in the financial world, and now in the computer era I have access. And in the summer I am likely to head out to the lake later in the day to drive a jet-ski, with the help of a backseat driver to guide me around obstacles.

And, of course, there is my main hobby; old classic cars. At the age of 16, I purchased a used 1958 Chevy for $200. The cars I currently own are a 1933 red Chevy coupe, a 1934 green Chevy four-door sedan, and a 1935 Chevy sport coupe. I belong to a Chevy club that focuses on keeping the cars in their original state, or restoring them. On weekends we go out on tours much like a Sunday drive with all old cars. Diane Black, my long-time girlfriend, now does the driving. With the club we plan tours and car shows, share car problems related to restoring, and attend monthly meetings. In May 1997, I won first place for the unrestored class in the Moses Lake, Washington, annual car show. In 1998, I took an engine rebuilding class at South Seattle Central Community College and received a certificate as one of two top students for that quarter.

Compared with how I worked on cars in my earlier years, I now use my hands far more, feeling the car, whereas before I used my sight. And, I sense through touch things others might listen for. An example would be tuning up an engine; often I feel the vibration and know there is something wrong such as the distributor timing needing an adjustment. This can be a positive because I am comfortable working in the wee hours of the night, as I do not require light to work.

On sunny days Diane and I can be seen tooling down the highway in the 34 Chevy. If you are unable to picture what a 34 Chevy looks like you may have seen one in the Bonnie and Clyde movies. Some people might think with a 34 that would mean sticking close to home. A few of the places we go have been Lincoln City, Oregon, to a deaf-blind camp; Vancouver, British Columbia; and often weekend excursions east of the Cascade Mountains to visit Dianeís parents. There have been times we have put 700-800 miles on the old girl in one weekend trip. Of course, driving a 34 one does carry along spare gas, toolbox, oil, water, and an extra carburetor as you never know what adventures one will be faced with.

While I have realized many of my dreams, I still have one moreóto compete in the Great American Race. It is a race of old cars that happens every spring. It is cross-country, coast-to-coast, and takes about two weeks. My 34 would be my choice as you not only need a driver, but a navigator (me), and I would like to take a deaf friend to help Diane with the driving.

In closing, I would like to say that dreams can be realized. We may only need to make some adaptations in life, and we all can be happy, be healthy in mind, and strive for our goals.

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