Kay Edgeworth (Geddes) and Sharon McKay (Kinnane)
Once upon a time…. it all started at the Pre-School for Deaf Children in May 1957. Our mothers remarked how we just gravitated towards each other like kindred spirits the day we met. We were just two and a half years old when we began our lifelong friendship, now spanning 64 years.
Those were fun years and as far as we can remember, we were assuredly happy being in the deaf circle. We felt free being who we are!
However, when we were nine years old, we were separated when we were mainstreamed to independent schools as part of the Queensland Government's experimental integration program during the 1960s. We had already received oral language training since early childhood. The objective was to better develop our oral language, social interaction with the hearing people, and acquire the necessary skills for social inclusion.
We met our mainstream education experiences with apprehension and bewilderment. It was a massive and unsettling change for us, fraught with obstacles and frustrations. Finding ourselves in a strange environment, we felt like fish out of water.
Over time, feelings of isolation and loneliness set in. Being apart played havoc with our emotions which were like a yo-yo, so many more downs than ups. We were beset with anxieties. We felt like outsiders and public speaking in front of the class and exams (especially oral) were daunting for us. Schooling became more challenging and stressful. We missed our rapport and encouraging support. We both longed for each other's daily company and friendship.
Eventually, we were able to meet up with each other again in our young adolescent years by attending youth activities and annual fetes at the School for the Deaf. We had a deep need to share our strong emotional support as a coping mechanism in dealing with the long absences from each other.
After gleefully finishing school, our lives carried on with dreams, leisure pursuits, employment, marriages, children and grandchildren; the latter three were our top priority.
Throughout all those full years, we stayed in close contact via the old snail mail that kept the postman busy, and then later emails which detailed the happenings of our lives. To our delight, when texting came on the scene, it became our preferred technique. A flurry of text messages ensued.
Then, a decade ago, we made plans to visit each other regularly with bimonthly lunch dates. A few interstate getaways were particular highlights, when we escaped from the daily grind and talked up a storm about anything and everything! Our need to feel a sense of belonging leads us to hanker for interaction with other deaf people, to be among our own kind.
We share similar viewpoints and interests with a few exceptions. Of course, our diverse opinions continue to be candidly aired even though by and large, we are on the same wavelength. A cross word between us has rarely, if ever, been uttered over the decades.
Now, we understand the whys of integration. Yes, education has played a big part, but so did our strict upbringing and religious influence which shaped us into what we are today… each a warm-hearted, resilient and competent womxn.
Our friendship is linked through a special bond that’s unbreakable. Our connection is unique and defies verbal description. We are deeply thankful and blessed to have such an amazing friendship that has endured and is still enduring. Incredible, we say! BFF!
Love this pearl of wisdom…
“Honour the friendships that allow you to pick up from where you last left off, regardless of how long it’s been since you connected. The friendships that survive hiatuses, silences and space, those are the connections that never die.” Billy Chapata
Many of the womxn profiled have articulated the value of the support garnered from their friendships with other womxn. Healthy, high-functioning friendships, help us to flourish and encourage more joy and less drama in our lives.