I think if Rose hadn’t been deafblind, she would have been an architect or engineer. Now in her mid-fifties, she spent so long in isolation in a day centre that she is seeing for the first time many things we take for granted.
For instance, Stratford is big on regeneration in the wake of the Olympics. Rose loves the Olympic Park but she is also amazingly interested in the construction of the new apartments in the area. I have had to invent signs for diggers, cranes and those astonishing machines that seem to jump about and flatten the ground. Rose loves them all. Profoundly deaf, the loud machinery is lost to her senses but she likes to see how they work and what they do.
On one occasion when we went to the Science Museum in London, I thought an interactive event might be something that Rose would enjoy, so we went up to the second floor to join the queue. The event, I have to say, started without us. Rose took one look at the aeroplanes and I knew we would be there for the afternoon. I never thought I would be required to find a sign for “crankshaft”.
St Katharine’s Dock, near London’s Limehouse, had in dock some wonderful ships with tall interesting masts and intricate rigging. Rose was fascinated. She signed to me how the sailors might climb the rigging, how the various cogs worked in steering the ship and how the sails might be winched into place. Rose keeps me on my toes by having an excellent eye for detail. She has been able to see the Queen’s gold coach and then draw it from memory. So it wasn’t surprising that Rose spent the tube journey home hoisting the sails and tugging at the ropes using very imaginative sign language.
Richmond-upon-Thames has an extremely good museum where you can press the button on a screen and see the historic buildings in Richmond being designed and constructed. Rose wasn’t content to leave until we had discovered every building we saw displayed in the museum. I feel sure that if Rose had not been born partially-sighted and profoundly deaf then her life would have taken a different path and she would have been designing and creating some of these wonderful buildings she so much admires.
Sister Chris CSF
London Senior Support Worker, About Me