But living examples don’t always come in the form of famous figures like Gandhi. Instead, many times, they are people who are close to us; sometimes they are even ourselves. I learned about the power of indomitable will from my mother.
My mother was born profoundly deaf (meaning she has no hearing at all), but it wasn’t until she was 5 years old that her deafness was discovered; my grandparents merely thought she was difficult. At that point, they decided that she would not be raised differently than a hearing child, and she was enrolled in public school. While growing up, she was forced into difficult situations that were almost impossible for her to perform, but she was expected to do just that. People didn’t understand her handicap, and instead thought her to be stubborn, rude or thoughtless.
By the time she was an adult, she had will and determination that could be matched by few. She could speak as well as a hearing person, lip-read with an astonishing degree of accuracy, play the piano, dance and sing. She then raised three children, put herself through law school, became editor-in-chief of the law review, graduated at the top of her class, clerked for a Court of Appeals judge, became a successful litigation partner in a prestigious Arizona law firm, and became a tenured professor at the Arizona State University Law School and a nationally recognized scholar and expert on matters of disability law.
None of her life’s accomplishments have come without a great deal of heartache, hardship and humility. But, throughout life, she has…