Of Baseball and Beebe
By Paul Sommer
It was a quarter of a century ago when I had my first lesson with Beebe in her makeshift garage/office, the very same place where my parents gained their first glimmer of hope in my being able to thrive independently in the mainstream. Back then, especially before such incredible advancements in technology, legislation and public awareness, it was deemed impossible to learn how to hear and speak. But those fortunate people who got to know Beebe quickly learned that the word “impossible” should not exist in the dictionary.
Many of us grew up dreaming of becoming professional baseball players, engineers, doctors, teachers, etc. Although I didn’t make it as a professional baseball player, I played all four years on my college varsity baseball team as the catcher. I was responsible for verbally communicating with my team where the ball should be thrown after it is hit. Had it not been for my verbal skills, which Beebe played a vital role in developing, I would have been riding the bench all four years or not even made the team in the first place.
I fondly recall the last time I saw Beebe, which was at her 80th birthday party attended by many children, parents and teachers and therapists whose lives she had a major impact on. I approached Beebe and said “Happy Birthday, Beebe.” Beebe’s response was, “That was good speech. Now are you going to give me a kiss?” I heard her the first time, but being only 12 years old, I was caught off-guard and naturally said, “What?” Beebe responded sternly as always, “You heard me.” Of course, Beebe, I heard you – thanks to you! I quickly regained my composure and gave Beebe a big kiss in appreciation for all she had done for me.