My name is Patricia Ann Parker
Porreca. I have two hearing sisters Betty and Paulette, and one hearing
brother, Jim. I was raised on a farm ten miles from Grinnell, Iowa. Jim is
oldest. I am second, Betty third, and five years later, Paulette was born.
My mother was Norwegian, and worked both as a housewife and at the telephone
company in Marshalltown, Iowa as a Supervisor. My mother passed away on May
23, 1993 due to cancer of the liver. My dad was Irish and
was a farmer many years. He also worked several other jobs until he
became policeman during the last three years of his life. He passed away
January 3, 1970, due to heart attack.
I was born in Marshalltown, Iowa
in 1943 with a mild spastic condition and nerve
damage to both ears. My mother took me to several doctors because I was sick
many times. She rocked me every night in the rocking chair because I cried
during the night. The doctor told my mother to give me medicine to make me
sleep. She gave it to me once and I slept all night. It looked like I was
dead. She did not like it at all and threw the medicine away. She continuing
rocking me in the rocking chair every night until I was three years old. My
parents took me to a special doctor on Long Island, NY and the doctor tested
me and asked me to put puzzles together. I did it perfectly. The doctor told
my parents that I was very smart and deaf. My mother sent me to Cerebral
Palsy Camp in Des Moines, Iowa for six weeks. I stayed there and my mother
came to visit me every day. The doctor gave me a shot to relax my muscles. I
went to swimming with a life jacket everyday and they gave me high heels on my
shoes to learn how to walk. Once a week, the heel was slightly reduced. The
therapists rubbed my Achilles tendon behind my feet to relax the muscles for
six weeks. Finally I could walk without any help. My mother went to Grinnell
College and met Mrs. Velma Hiser, Associate Professor of Speech. Mrs. Hiser
gave me speech therapy twice a week until I was four years old.
At the age of five years I went
to the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs for one year and I was the
best student in the kindergarten class. At the time of the awards program as
I was walking up to the stage, I fell down on the steps and got up to get an
award for the best student in class. My mother saw all students who used sign
language but couldn’t lip-read and talk. My mother asked Mrs. Velma Hiser
about a special school. Mrs. Hiser recommended a private school, Saint Joseph
Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri.
I was a student at Saint Joseph
Institute for the Deaf for eight years. My first teacher, Mrs. Enid Jones,
was from Australia. She was a very good teacher and I learned how to read,
write and speak. She taught me the sounds for “K” and “G” which were hard for
me. She wrote a letter to my mother and asked permission for me to stay with
her at her home during the weekends once in a while. My mother said yes! I
enjoyed being with her family during the weekends my first year at St.
Joseph. When the school closed in June, Mrs. Jones invited my mother and me
to stay overnight at her house. Then the next morning my mother drove me to
Iowa and I spent the summer on the farm with my family.
My first year at St. Josephs I
received a new hearing aid for the first time. Now I could hear the toilet
running, hear my voice, and hear when I walked. The dining room was very
noisy. Everything was very quiet until I got a new hearing aid. It was an
old fashioned one, large and powerful I enjoyed having it. All my friends
talked and played together, and we had no problem at all. No one made fun of
me! After school we played on the playground, on the swings and we played
baseball. Later, there was Home Cooking class and Sewing class after
school. I really liked to bake cookies, cakes and so forth. Sister Anne
Bernadine taught the girls and she was a very good teacher in home cooking
class. I did not like to sew because it was hard for me to put in the needle
and thread it. I did not like it at all but I sewed a skirt. Also, I
learned how to roller skate and practiced again and again, and felI down for
the first time. I liked to roller skate, but not to fall down. In sixth
and seventh grade I learned ballet dancing after school. There was a big
ballet performance called “The Wizard of Oz.” We practiced and practiced for
the show. I was dressed like Indian, and danced with a group of girls. It
was just perfect and we made no mistakes. My mother and Mrs. Jones came to
see me in the play and they were very proud.
Every summer I went home on the
farm to be with my family. I learned how to feed and water ducks, Canadian
geese, rabbits, chickens and how to collect eggs. I saw my mother cut off a
chicken’s head and the chicken fly away and flop until dead. She put the
chicken into a pail with boiled water and pulled all the feathers off. She
cut it up and cooked it for dinner. It was so good to eat and the chicken was
so fresh! I helped my mother to can corn, peas, green beans and strawberries
from the garden. We had apple trees too. We canned apples, made applesauce,
baked apple pies and apple crisp.
During my last year at St Joseph,
they had a new girl’s basketball team and we got new uniforms. I enjoyed
playing basketball and we were second place in the conference. If our team
had a high score, the coach let me play for the last few minutes.
During my years at St. Josephs,
I learned about the Catholic
religion and went to Mass
every day during my eight years. I decided to become a Catholic and I pray
every day and attend Mass every Sunday. Sister Ann Rose was my favorite
teacher my last year at St. Joseph. She was principal of our school. She was
very kind, happy and a wonderful person. When I graduated from the eighth
grade at St. Joseph, I missed my friends, classmates, and the sisters too.
After graduation from the eighth
grade I went home to the farm with my family. I attended public school in
Newburg, Iowa close to my home. I learned typing, science, math, and
English. I made friends and they were very nice to me. One of my friends,
Diane, invited me to spend the night with her family at the farm. Diane rode
her horse and I rode another horse. The horse ran so fast and I dropped the
rope. I screamed and thought that I would fall down on the muddy road.
Somehow my horse kept running faster than Diane’s horse! However, the horse
did stop by some miracle. I jumped off the horse and was not hurt it all. I
was relieved! Diane hugged me and was glad that I was alright! Diane and I
rode the horse back to her home. We talked and laughed a lot. We had a good
I went to Grinnell High School
for four years where my sister Betty attended. I made friends and everyone
was kind and nice to me. I joined Pep Club and enjoyed going to football and
basketball games during my high school years. I took four years of typing
class. My teacher, Mr. Youngbeck, was funny and a good teacher. We got along
fine. Sometimes I teased him and he enjoyed it. There was no interpreter at
all!! It was pretty hard but I made it okay with my homework, and sometimes
Betty helped. On my senior year Betty got married and moved away, and I
finally made the honor roll all year on my own. On graduation night the
principal called my name while I received my diploma - Many of my classmates
clapped their hands.
In Iowa I took the Iowa driver
license test twice and it was very hard. I was not able to pass it.
After graduation from Grinnell
high school I went to Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. I made new
friends and l learned sign language with 20 new students for the first time.
It took me three months to learn all the sign language and it helped when the
teachers used sign language. I had no problem lip-reading. It was interesting
to make new friends from all over the U.S. Everyone was so nice to me and I
had no problems. I enjoyed staying with my friends at Gallaudet. The girls
asked me to go out sightseeing around Washington. It was fun!! I enjoyed
being at Gallaudet College during the first year.
In 1966 I got a new job at the
Iowa Veterans’ Home in Marshalltown, I worked there for seven and one-half
years. I learned so many things, how to file, type letters, and deliver
messages. I got along just fine with all my employees and friends. On the
last day of work they gave me a big party and potluck supper with all office
workers. I knew I would miss my friends and they were very nice!
In 1973 I got another job at
Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C. I was file clerk and worked very
hard and they asked me to work overtime on Saturday. I made very good money,
better than at the Iowa Veterans’ Home. I lived in an apartment all by myself
which was close to food shopping and bus transportation both to work and
home. I joined CHI club to enjoy meeting new friends and to have some social
time. I really like it but I missed my family in Iowa, too! I came home for
Christmas and summer vacation. I got the “Topper Award” for outstanding file
clerk at the Civil Service Commission in 1974. In 1975 I met Alan at a
deaf club and we dated. We got married in 1976. I was surprised to see
that Alan could drive a car. I wanted to take driving lessons at Gallaudet
College but they told me to take the Maryland driver’s test. I studied very
hard and took the test. I passed it for the first time and they gave me a
driver’s permit license. The Maryland test was easier than the Iowa test. I
took driver’s training with a private teacher at Gallaudet. I drove the car
for the first time and I was too stiff and nervous. The teacher told me to
relax while I drove. I practiced driving every Saturday morning for two hours
of a time for six weeks. On the last day I drove the car with Alan by
myself. I tried to drive Alan’s car but his car was too big for me. I didn’t
drive it at all.
In 1980 I miscarried my first
girl. Then in 1982 I got pregnant and my second child was born on April 18,
1982. Holly Roth, nurse assistant, helped me to breath during childbirth. I
wanted natural childbirth. The doctor said that I must have shot in my back,
and two nurses held me very tight while giving me the shot perfectly! My
beautiful baby girl was born and her name is Priscilla Inga. I breast fed her
for one year and one-half years. At first, it was hard for me to carry her.
My mother helped me a lot and stayed with us for five weeks. I enjoyed being
a mother to Priscilla and took one year and two months off from my work. Then
I went back to work.
In July 1985, I got another job
at Export-Import Bank of the United States as a file clerk for three months.
Then in November, 1985 I got a permanent job as Clerk. Later my boss was
trying to encourage me to take the typing test. I took the typing test twice
and finally passed with 40 words per minute with two errors. My position
changed to a secretary. I got promoted twice and got an outstanding rating
award in 1991. I enjoyed typing and filing and I learned to do payroll on the
computer. Everyone is very nice and professional at work. I’m still working
In 1995 I bought a nice condo in
Gaithersburg, Maryland. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, living and
dining rooms, washer and dryer, and a kitchen. It has a large swimming pool
and community house. It is close to the Giant Grocery Store, bus
transportation at Shady Grove Metro (2 miles), and
it is one half mile to the Lake Forest Mall. It is a perfect place for me.
In 1997 I had a surprise retirement party for my friends Richard and Frances
at the community house all afternoon with 100 guests and 13 hostesses. We
enjoyed it so much and it was a lot of fun!
Priscilla is now 19 years old and
graduated from Magruder High School last June 4, 2000 and she got three
scholarship awards. She became a member of the National Honor Society in her
Junior and Senior year. I am very proud of her. She is planning to be an
elementary teacher in the future. On June 17, 2000 Priscilla got married to
Ben Hicks. The wedding was small and so beautiful in Virginia. I enjoyed
raising her all through the years.
I am happy, enjoy cooking,
traveling, drawing, painting with oil a little bit, and also, I like to do
needle embroidery on plastic frames. Most of the time I like to play games on
the computers at home. I enjoy it and the E-mail at home and work are very
nice. I enjoy meeting new and old friends, too! Janet Noyes and I talked
about Cerebral Palsy & Deaf Organization meeting and I told her about my home
the first time in 1998. I am still active on Cerebral Palsy and Deaf
Organization, socials and meetings. I am still working at Export-Import Bank
of the U.S. and hope to continue working there for nine more years and then I
I thank my
mother and sisters who helped me through all the years when I was growing up.
I thank God for the blessings that He gave me.
Written by Patty
Luwilda Parker was interested in
me writing this dramatic story of love, hope, prayers, superhuman courage,
faith, tears and sorrow. She also wanted me to relate my education and
adjustment to a hearing world of four children. It was her life goal to give
to the world her knowledge of a handicapped child and how to deal with her
skill of success after thirty years of hardship and prayers.
Love, courage, superhuman
courage, not failure but triumph with gift from God Almighty.
Patty was victim of cerebral palsy which had to do with muscular
coordination. Hers was a physical damage, one that controlled her balance,
her left arm and nerve damage to both ears. At the age of three, Patty could
not hold her head up, sit alone, walk and had no speech. We later found that
Patty was deaf. Eight years of private school at St. Joseph Institute for
the Deaf shaped Patty into a most beautiful well poised daughter, now able to
dance, play basketball, hold a job, marry, and be a productive member of
Most important of all was for
Patty to be included in the family as normally as possible. Patience,
understanding, teaching, school, but most of all love. Love reaching to the
depth of her soul; to know someone cares and you are important. Praise for
each accomplishment, encouragement you are okay, look what you can
accomplish! Push ahead always to higher learning. Never give up,
disappointments will come but they come to everyone. Don’t stop, keep on,
there will be a glorious day of accomplishment. Unless each one of us work at
it we never accomplish anything in life. But you have love, radiance, beauty,
a good brain and knowledge. Push ahead there is a trade and a job for
everyone. You will get one. Patty has top art ability.
by Patty’s mother, Luwilda Parker