Julianne Marguerite was one of many children born to her parents, Gerard and Edith. Unlike her other siblings who were always active and engaged in living their lives, Julianne Marguerite was a child who preferred the atmosphere around her to be silent…and rightly so for many reasons. One, she did not hear like her other brothers and sisters, and two, she liked being alone…it was quiet…and there was moments of contentment that came with being able to think while she observed the world around her.
Born into a bi-lingual family, hearing impairment made it difficult for Julianne Marguerite to make either language one she could call own. Although she was able to master her languages, it was done at great cost to her image as Edith would often punish her for not being able to repeat her lessons as quickly as her siblings leaving her to struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of shame.
With the aid of a hearing aid and being a visual person , as Julianne Marguerite grew, did master a language of her own, one that involved the words she did hear , body language and facial expressions and most importantly…the other person’s lips. She learned early on in life that even the eyes have a language all of their own.
When she became a teenager, Julianne Marguerite was given a guitar. At first, she had no idea how to make the strings work together to produce the music as she could hear it on the radio. Just twangs and more twangs. The guitar was a burden for her at first because it was another something she did not understand, and any sounds made were heard differently than when her siblings were hearing the same sounds.
It took a while, but with the aid of a music book with chords illustrations for guitars, Julianne Marguerite was able to learn where her fingers should be placed, how the strings should be strummed and eventually the miracle of these newly found sounds made their way to her heart. Finally, she had something that would allow her to express her feelings, good or bad. Even better was the fact that the guitar did not ridicule her because she played a wrong note or chord.
Julianne Marguerite was now also able to put music to words she had written and created her own songs. When she sang these for others she reaped a sense of joy and pride that comes from knowing you have something to offer to others…she had a “gift.” In time her sisters Chloe and Aude and eventually her mother Edith joined her when singing these songs together. It was the only thing they ever did that made them “look” or “feel” as if they were a family. It was the “strings” that allowed them to break down the barriers that prevented them to bond when they were younger…music.
The quite times Julianne Marguerite once enjoyed were now spent with her best “friend,” her guitar. Placing her ear on the body of the guitar when she played allowed her to feel the notes and when she learned to sing along with these, there was a kind of peace that only could be had when a person found something that they could connect with.
It would be thirty more years before Julianne Marguerite was able to understand her hearing impairment. With reconstructive ear surgery and the support of her doctor, she came to realize that she was not “deaf,” as she was often made to think. She was also not “stupid,” she had to learn differently. She was hard of hearing and simply did not hear as the rest of the people in the world around her. This knowledge had a profound impact on her future. More importantly there was the liberation from the chains of the lack of self-esteem and shame that encased her like a pea in a pod for most of the earlier part of her life. Music allowed Julianne Marguerite the strength and courage to eventually find the “real” person she was meant to be. The truth and her bond with music had set Julianne Marguerite free.
Jeanne Claire Probst
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