Whales and Tales

 

 

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Illustrations by Chris E. Hammond
On a sunny August day, a young boy gets a chance to ride through the ocean on the back of a wise old whale. As told by a local, Louie assumes his journey from his home in New York City to a beach community is just part of an ordinary day. It is only when he learns the secret of bala, mala, whala that he realizes how important it is for us to join hands and celebrate the diversity and richness of our human existence with compassion and love.

I am pleased to announce that my very first children’s book, The Legend of Eddie the Whale has now launched!  This has been a very exciting week for me with my very first school visit to my grandson’s kindergarten class on lauch day.

While my book is not specifically about any group, it is important for me to show positive examples of diversity in my books. Examples that allow the reader to SEE that we are ALL part of the mainstream and not invisible in literature. It’s about the story, not the difference. We are here. The person first before the identifying factors.

My book includes an example of a man who is homeless.A man with a cochlear implant. A woman in a beach wheelchair. Culturally Deaf individuals using ASL. People of color sharing in a common experience. Positive examples of an aging population. Pictures of diverse populations. Just showing that we all exist rather than making any population invisible—that is what inclusion is all about. Kids need to see themselves and the people they love in books.

The Legend of Eddie the Whale, now available on Amazon by using the following link:

https://www.amazon.com/Legend-Eddie-Whale-Grace-Whalen/dp/0578526298/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=the+legend+of+eddie+the+whale&qid=1562285672&s=gateway&sr=8-2

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Mary Grace Whalen is a freelance writer, former adjunct professor and a happy grandma. Her favorite things are family, the ocean, painting, Asian cuisine, being around nature, chocolate, warm puppies and of course whale watching. She was a contributing author for the book, Journeys With Grief, A Collection of Articles about Love, Life and Loss published by the Hospice Foundation of America. Her memoir, Living in the Color Magenta, is expected to be available in late 2019. In the meantime, she is working on another children’s book.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter of Thanks to Dan Rather for Bringing Hearing Loss to the Forefront of a Discussion

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Dear Dan Rather,

In late January you were a guest speaker at my local Barnes & Noble store to discuss What Unites Us, a book authored by you & Elliot Kirschner (https://www.amazon.com/What-Unites-Us-Reflections-Patriotism).   The crowds arrived early, and people began to line up well before starting time.

I am a late-deafened baby boomer, but I am a bilateral cochlear implant recipient, so I can function pretty well while wearing my devices.  Due to my less-than-perfect hearing, I arrive at these events well in advance to ensure good seating.  On this particular evening, I was able to get a second-row seat in the center of the event area.  Eager and ready, I pulled out a small microphone that serves as an assistive device to supplement my cochlear devices.  Needless to say, staying connected to our world is a priority those of us who suffer from profound hearing loss need to keep up with.

As the program began, the crowds clapped and you were seated.  It took a few small adjustments to make sure the store’s microphone for the event was working optimally.  I sat in my seat feeling somewhat conspicuous pointing my personal microphone in your direction.  As you looked straight ahead, I did my best to hear the program and get the full benefit from assistive technology. But wait.  Did I spot at least one hearing aid when you turned your head?  Perhaps then, you would understand why I was pointing this tiny device in your direction.  I was trying to get the full benefit of your words.

Right before the questions from the audience began, you stated you had a confession to make.  You informed the audience that your hearing is not what it used to be, preparing them for the possibility of not hearing a question or even answering it inappropriately through no fault of your own.  Then you went on to tell the audience about Walter Cronkite who suffered from hearing loss in his lifetime.  You added a humorous story that so many of us whose hearing is not what it used to be can relate to.

But it didn’t end there.  A young man in the audience with a small child opened a discussion about race.  He said that he looked around the room and there were few people in the audience that looked like people “where he comes from.”  It was so important that the young child with him could witness your insightful response.  It was also important to me that this young child heard you speak openly about your own hearing loss, sometimes with the humor we all need to keep things in perspective.

Finally, often on social media I see young people with hearing loss or culturally Deaf individuals ask what kind of job someone with hearing loss can do.  You validated the point that persons with hearing loss can be whatever they want to be just by being present and speaking candidly.  Hearing loss is a disability, and unfortunately issues concerning persons with disabilities is an often forgotten part of discussions about diversity.

Getting back to that small child, through your words, the next generation was reminded that although change often comes slowly, an open discussion gives a voice to those of us who have felt on the outskirts of society for whatever reason.  Mr. Rather, that is something that unites us, and I thank you.

With gratitude,

Mary Grace Whalen

Dan Rather’s website is www.danrather.com  

Here is a link to a humorous story Dan Rather has posted on hearing loss and aging: