For most folks, January is the start of a new year. All their hopes and plans are neatly lined up, gleaming with promise. The old year is behind them as they plough forth into new ventures and adventures.
It wasn't like that for me in 1965, 1966, and 1967. Unlike most Canadian children, I was sent to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind for months at a stretch. The government only allowed me to go home during summer and Christmas. When I returned each January, I knew that I wouldn't set foot in my beloved home until the end of June.
Six months is a long time to be away from home, especially for children. I soon learned to cope by focusing on whatever difficulty or pleasure engaged me at the moment. Only at night or whenever supervisors allowed me to be alone did the thoughts of home return.
As the days passed, I took note of the changing seasons. Vancouver's sodden winters turned to spring as I busied myself with the demands of school and outings. Even so, homesickness plagued me from time to time.
Then came Easter and the soul-crushing burden of knowing that I couldn't go home like most of the inmates of that institution did. Substitute supervisors took pity on us from time to time but it was cold comfort to me.
The resumption of school took my mind off going home for a few weeks. But the arrival of June started me counting down the days until the night I'd sleep in my own bed again. Three weeks, two, one: each minute seemed slower than the last as that wonderful day approached.
Finally, the long-awaited day came. Having ridden in a bus, plane, and Dad's Volkswagen, I found myself once again in the home that I yearned for with such intensity.
January no longer torments me with the depressing prospect of a six-month exile or even a three-month-long one. After writing Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), memories of those miserable years don't sting like they once did. Additionally, my parents eased my suffering by paying for my train ticket home twice. In 1970, the British Columbia government took pity on us Alberta kids and flew us home.
I've written many more vignettes of my time at that institution in my Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir. It, and When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), are available directly from me. I hope to have How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity in print this year. Check out the information on the left hand side of this page or contact me directly for more information.