The best part of writing Singing Hands was learning amazing information about my own family—stories I never would have discovered if I hadn’t decided to write a book based on my mother’s experiences growing up with Deaf parents.
Combing through old family letters and photographs with my mom, I learned that:
- My mother had a sassy, mischievous streak when she was a kid—just like me!
- My grandparents met as students at Gallaudet University for the Deaf when they both entered a lip-reading contest. My grandmother Estelle won the championship after correctly identifying the final two challenge words—“peas” and “beans.” Supposedly my grandfather always claimed that he let Estelle win “because she was so beautiful.”
- In 1952 my grandfather—the Reverend Robert Fletcher—became the first minister to open the US Senate in prayer using sign language. Until writing Singing Hands, I had never realized that “Pop” had been a leading pioneer in the Deaf community, preaching throughout nine states from the 1930s to the 1970s and helping Deaf people across the South overcome hurdles of isolation and discrimination. The character of Reverend Davis in Singing Hands is my small tribute to my grandfather’s legendary career.