It’s A New Year!

Hello family! First of all I want to thank everyone for their concern about my absence. The outpouring of love this year continues and I am overwhelmed by the many and specific acts of kindness and thoughtful notes I have received.

I am fine.

I am better than I have been in a long while.

I took a little break to work on the book but then this happened…

This beautiful gift is the daughter of my son who we lost to suicide in July.

She arrived and everything else kind of went away for a while.

As I have said in my Rules in various ways no job or task is important enough to require you to abandon your family and the love and support of friends.

Truth be told, the book is only slightly more complete than it was. But my heart has undergone a healing miracle. I have the peace that can only come from looking into the eyes of my granddaughter (not used to that one yet) and realize I need my heart to be whole so she can break it for herself each time she leaves my arms.

She is not my son. She is who she is and who she will be.

She is all attitude and smiles like he was as a baby, but she is also herself.

But I can feel him. Wanting to hold her so I do it for him. It’s been my job for a minute-it took me a minute to overcome my fear, it went away the moment she looked at me-I could make this a full time job.

I am back though. I have a whole crop of new Rules and Notes and Random Thoughts on what you Probably Should Know.

I am starting out with a hard one for me. It makes me a bit nervous because it’s self reflective in a way I am not used to.

But that is for tomorrow. Today I am Grandpa Uncle Dale. Gruncle (Yes I know that is Gravity Falls but I’m retasking it for my own purposes).

Today is for this:

See you tomorrow.

Gruncle Dale.

Random Thoughts From Uncle Dale: 2018 End of the Year Post

Between Christmas and New Years I like to repost the most “popular” posts from the year.

This year that is an odd prospect because, as many of you know, I had some traumatic life events that caused some of my posts to be shared by this wonderful, loving community many more times than others. These posts were shared as much for the emotion as the content.

That gives me pause to think about what I mean when I say “popular.”

That is usually just a calculation of the most views. But, as I said, this year I cannot rely on the most viewed being the most helpful.

So I came to a decision. In this post I will include a few of those more emotionally powerful posts that may have skewed the numbers as far as views and start with the most viewed posts that are more directed at the experience of the interpreter and skill development tomorrow.

Thank you. Thank you all for the love you’ve shown this year for both me and my family.

1. Real Talk With Aunt SuperTam

https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/note-from-aunt-supertam-real-talk-with-supertam/

2. An Open Letter to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/thank-you-and-an-open-letter-to-lin-manuel-miranda/

3. This is Where You Are.

https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/note-from-uncle-dale-this-is-where-you-are/

Love to you all!

UD

Note from Uncle Dale: A Gift For You-This Is Water

I’ve needed to write this Note for a while so it’s about time I did!

In several of my Notes, like Happiness for example, I quote an essay by one of my favorite authors, David Foster Wallace, called This Is Water.

Prior to being an essay Mr. Wallace gave This Is Water as a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. Someone in the audience recorded it and it was traded around like a Grateful Dead bootleg until someone transcribed it and published it.

Now with the magic of YouTube you can find the original recording online.

I cannot begin to explain to you the power of Mr. Wallace’s brief comments on that day in 2005. For me to lack the words to explain is saying something, because words, words I give freely, to both the willing and the resistant. Both intentionally and obliviously I am well known for educating people against their will. But, if I tried to explain why you should take the time to get to know This Is Water any words I chose simply would not match the words already there.

So I will just say this:

It did not change my life, it changed how I chose to understand and interpret the experiences of my life.

Oh, and it made me a better interpreter.

Since I posted my Note called Happiness I have seen that several people reposted just the David Foster Wallace quote on social media. And well they should. That quote is worth sharing.

However…

That is just a few lines from a greater masterwork. There is so much more there!

All that being said, if I haven’t convinced you to read This Is Water, (if you take any number of my classes sooner or later I will make you. Because I’m the teacher and I can) then I will offer you first an appetizer and then the full meal.

The Appetizer: Someone made a short film of a heavily portion of the 2005 original recording at Kenyon College. It is heavily edited but still quite amazing.

https://youtu.be/XHefxlDUinE

I hope watching that entices you sit down to The Full Meal: The full 2005 Speech.

The full meal so very much worth the price of twenty minute of your life.

Both links are captioned fairly accurately.

Rule 647

Dear interpreting student who is struggling right now:

I need you to believe in you, because it’s lonely out here believing in you all by myself.

If I thought you were hopeless I would have no compunction about encouraging you to explore exciting careers in the food service industry.

Have we had that discussion?

No?

Then it’s time to get back to work.

Dennis Cokely: My Memory of an Honored Friend and Colleague.

There are moments in time, the significance of which we miss because we are too young or naïve or inexperienced to see them for what they are. Years and experience throw a glaring light on those missed moments as if to highlight what could have been, what you could have done, if only you knew then what you know now.

Dennis Cokley’s passing this week takes me back to one of those, “if only I could turn back the clock,” occurrences. It happened at a lunch that I shared with him my first semester of law school.

Dennis loved teaching and learning moments, so to honor him I will share with you a story that I know would make Dennis chuckle… because that is exactly what he did when, a couple of years ago, he and I remembered together what happened at that lunch.

I first “met” Dennis in the mid-1990’s while I was working for the Utah Community Center for the Deaf. We were introduced when he came to teach some workshops in Utah. Over the years he and I talked and faxed (oh children this was back when email was science trying to prove it was not fiction).  He and I really got to know each other when I was accepted to law school at Northeastern University. I sent him a note and he responded that when I had settled in and found the time to come see him and he would take me to lunch.

A few months into my first semester I happened to have some time open and I wandered across campus to Dennis’ office to see if he was free. As I walked into the Deaf Studies Department he was walking out to go to lunch with a colleague, but he kindly invited me to join them. I told him I didn’t want to disrupt his lunch. Dennis gave me that smile (if you’ve ever met him you know the smile I mean) and signed, “we would welcome you to join us, I would love to introduce you.”

So I went.

Dennis introduced me to his colleague as “my friend from Utah.” Dennis went on to give “a proper Deaf introduction” to this hearing colleague and I realized that he knew things about my history and background that only a person who took an interest would know. His introduction was gracious and complementary in a way that can only be described as, “with the manners Dennis was known for.”

Then we ate. We ate and talked about Deaf culture, interpreting, law, policy, the past and the future. They asked my opinion. They listen to my input (I am cringing as I remember how much I thought I understood that day compared to how little I actually knew).

It was a very enjoyable lunch. But I admit, to my embarrassment, I did even begin to grasp the enviable position I was in that afternoon.

With the benefit of years and experience I now realize that I had a singular experience that day. I relive that afternoon and think of all the things I should have asked if only I had understood that for two and half hours I sat between two of the greatest minds in my field. For those brief two hours he gave me a place at the table, seated between Dennis Cokley and Harlan Lane.

Thank you Dennis. Your kindness equaled your intellect.

That is the greatest complement I think I could pay him.

Note from Aunt SuperTam: Real Talk with SuperTam

If you did not know it by now reading this blog, I married an incredible and profound person.

Many people have asked me to share the talk my wife gave at my son Harrison’s funeral.

PLEASE DON’T STOP READING! This is an uncomfortable topic, but we need to accept this discomfit because it is literally about life and death.

I am sharing only part of her longer remarks because it is vitally important. You can find the full transcript on my Facebook timeline.

I am happy that it touched so many people and hopefully opened up some much needed dialog on the topics of both mental illness and suicide.

Please remember that these are the words she spoke over my son’s coffin, in a room with about 600 people watching and listening. I say that not only as a kind of trigger warning, and as a way of letting you know the power and strength possible in the human spirit, but also to highlight the sacred nature of her words.

Please share this. Share her full remarks. Share them with people you love or people you just met, but share this message.

Excerpts of remarks given on July 28, 2018, at the funeral of Harrison T Boam by his mother Tammis R Boam.

“…Harrison asked me to say it like it is today. So, we are going to have what I’m calling Real Talk with SuperTam, (because that’s my nickname).

Harrison killed himself. Very few people want to say that. People don’t want to talk about it. People do want to talk about it but they don’t know how. It’s an unbearably painful topic. People keep telling Dale and myself that we are so brave to talk openly about what Harrison did. We never considered any other option. It didn’t feel brave to either one of us, just truthful. When a person dies of heart disease or cancer or pneumonia, we all grieve, but we don’t fear talking about why they died. Mental illness carries a heavy stigma in our society and I believe we share an obligation to have more productive and proactive conversations about a really scary and difficult topic. Mental illness is physical illness. It happens in the brain. Just like MS or Parkinson’s disease; it can be a chemical imbalance, a failure of synapses to connect properly, or an underdeveloped portion of the brain that limits its proper function. It is not different than any other illness. But it is sooo taboo. When the term ‘Mental Illness’ is mentioned, people think in extremes; severe debilitation, psychosis, the inability to work or leave the house, erratic behavior, frightening delusions – scary, scary words, yet mental illness usually doesn’t look like that. It’s depression – from mild to severe, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, Anorexia, Post Partum Depression, Autism Spectrum – it can be an illness or a disorder or a dysfunction. Everyone in this room knows someone who deals with a mental illness every single day. It is often silent and very subversive, and people can feel isolated or hopeless.

Nearly every single person that I talked to, or Dale, or my parents or in-laws or our friends knows someone who has had suicide effect their family. The heartbreaking thing is that suicide is on the rise amongst our youth. Our children are dying and we are afraid to talk about it because it is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable for me to stand here today and talk about it.

But I am willing to open the conversation. I am willing to answer questions. I will listen to fears and pains, and I will try to offer comfort. I know I’m not the only one willing to do this, but I think one of the problems we collectively suffer from is fear.

Dale and I always try to teach our kids that the devil dwells in darkness and the gospel spreads light. So they should base their decisions on whether or not they have to hide what they do in darkness or if they can do it openly in the light. This is a good foundation for teaching decision-making. However, people often hide in darkness. Not because they are dark themselves, but because they are afraid. We need to learn how to recognize people who are hiding. We must practice seeing what people in pain look like. We need to commit to ourselves that we will be the person. The one who offers succor, in whatever form that takes. We need to ask questions and develop relationships that allow people to open up and be unafraid… The Lord is asking us to be is hands and help his children. We need to seek the one, and we also need to be the one. Be the one who looks. Be the one who asks. Be the one who sees. We have the power to heal.

Our family has been terribly, irrevocably wounded and changed. We are in agony. But we are being ministered to, every second of every day. Because of that, we are already beginning to heal. We have a long road ahead and we accept that, because we do not walk that road alone. The Savior walks that road with us. And so do every single one of you every time you do something that is motivated by love. The road that we walk, the same road you walk, is the path of the gospel. It guides us towards our Father in Heaven…

He did kill himself, but he also died because he suffered from an illness. We do not need to be ashamed of that or hide that fact. Harrison made a choice I wish he had not. He took an action he can’t take back. I know he would if he could. I know he didn’t mean to do this. But we are the ones who are left with the results of his actions. What do we do with that? Do we live within the atonement of Christ? Do we refuse to let fear keep us from speaking when speaking is necessary? Do we reach out, see a person, offer love and provide acceptance? Do we hide in the darkness, or do we shine in the light? I know what Harrison would have us do, and I know what the Lord would have us do.

Harrison, I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

Thank You, and An Open Letter to Lin-Manuel Miranda

People keep coming to my door and telling me, “I don’t know what to say.” That is because there are no words. There is only love. It is only you that we needed. We needed you, and here you are.

I cannot express how completely my family and I have felt your love. Emails, texts, cards, calls, flowers, visits and food (so much food). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So many people have shared with me their own stories of grief. I could never have anticipated how deeply comforting it is to hear these stories and to realize the teller is still breathing in and out, getting out of bed, going to work and the store each day. It will be possible to do the mundane and everyday tasks of life, I know that because others who have walked where I am walking are doing it. They told me their stories and so I know it’s possible.

I know I am just at the door of grieving and that it will sneak up on me in months and years ahead and take me out at the knees when I least expect it. But I also know I have a community around me ready to raise me up when I stumble.

Now.

I promise I will return this blog to the purpose for which it was intended, but you may have noticed I write when I am sad or angry or confused or happy or… you get it.

I wrote the following letter a couple of days after my son died and I have been asked to share it here. At the time I was sitting in the darkness and just felt compelled to write. After I sent it to Mr. Miranda’s Facebook page I wondered why I did it. Looking back I remember an episode of M*A*S*H where Dr. Sidney Freedman is writing letters to Sigmund Freud to help himself to understand his own feelings.

I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m a writer and a sometime actor. I don’t write to Dr. Freud. It appears I write to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Dear Mr. Miranda,

I find myself writing to you in this strange public forum because it is the only place I can imagine right now to reach out to you. I could not find an address to send a letter or email.

I have no actual expectation that you will ever read these words, but, gratitude, like forgiveness, is much more for the giver than the receiver. Even if this never reaches you it is still vital for me to say it.

My 13-year-old daughter is a fan of your work, specifically Hamilton, to a point that can only be adequately described as “with the love and obsession possessed by a 13-year-old girl for a piece of art that speaks to her soul.” Thus I have had the opportunity to not only see your masterwork live when it toured through Salt Lake City, but before and after that inspiring performance to hear the soundtrack on an almost daily loop playing in my home and car.

I therefore became a fan as well.

I am compelled now to write you, to thank you for all your work, but specifically for the song It’s Quiet Uptown. That song has played, not in my home or car, but in my head since Tuesday of this week when my eldest son took his own life.

This was not an act which followed a long struggle with depression or crippling mental illness. It happened in a moment when all the ingredients for such a terrible event were present: anger, an argument and a gun. In a moment that he could not take back he let those three elements take him away from his wife, family, brothers, sister and his mother and I.

I was not there when it happened but that does not prevent me from screaming into the past and begging him to stop and breathe and think for just one more moment. That breath and thought will never happen and all I am left with when the screaming grief and tears of his mother and siblings and I fade, is quiet. Quiet in desperate search of peace.

Though it is quiet outside, in my mind I still beg to hold him. I beg to trade his life for mine. But I am left in the end with quiet-where I try to push away the unimaginable. Where I try to live with the unimaginable.

I am searching Mr. Miranda. Next to me is my wife, we are together walking through the unimaginable.

My gratitude to you is for giving me the words, your words, the ones you gave to Alexander Hamilton and to Eliza Hamilton, that you unknowingly gave to my wife and I as well. Those same words you gave to all who are pushing through the unimaginable.

Now I must find my quiet place, my uptown, where I can do the unimaginable and find that grace too powerful to name.

I know it’s there. Because you told a tale that is rooted in truth. Somewhere there is peace. Somewhere there is grace. But right now it seems unimaginable.

I know it is not impossible. I feel the grace of eternity fighting to find a place in my heart. The faith I learned in church from my childhood tells me there is a place of peace beyond this, though I can’t see it now.

The lyrics that, I can tell you, were whispered into your heart by a loving father in heaven, speak to so many people, too many people, who must find a quiet place to look into the void and learn to live with the unimaginable.

Thank you for listening to that still small voice Mr. Miranda. Thank you for following where that voice inside led you. Thank you for giving those words to all of us pushing through the unimaginable. I know it can’t just be me that needs them.

I felt such a great need to tell you that, to express my thanks knowing that you may never hear it. That you may not know I wrote this does not matter when it comes to gratitude. Gratitude must be expressed.

Our great love to you,

Dale H Boam and family

(Thank you for reading this. I’ll get back to the whole interpreting thing now.)