I am happy because I joined hundreds of my fellow citizens from
Kent and around to celebrate our annual Heritage Festival. I've
lived in this city since I was a baby. I remember the days when
it was called the Kent Fest. Everyone who went was from Kent. The
vendors were from Kent. The little girls dancing in goofy
costumes were from Kent. The, oh-so-cool high school boys playing
in rock bands were from Kent. Every where you looked, you would
see a friendly face.
I left town for 10 years after I graduated from Kent State
University. My life was much different when I returned to Kent in
2006. Year after year, something happened to take the festival
away from me. Perhaps it was my worsened disabilities and the
difficulty of finding an escort. Or it was my mother's car
accident and her injuries that have made it impossible for us to
attend as a family. One year I was still in pain after elbow
Now I'm there. I'm a part of the festival. I'm one of the many.
My voice blends with the sound of Summer love and laughter. I am
I am at the Heritage Festival because I was able to find an SSP
to take me. SSP means Support Service Provider. This is a person
who acts as the "eyes and ears" for someone who is DeafBlind. My
SSP is pushing my wheelchair. He stops to describe jewelry for
me. Now he's interpreting so I can interact with an old friend
from Roosevelt High School who does not know sign language. I am
Here I stop to make a "kiddie" bracelet. I know it's for kids
because it actually fits my tiny wrists. I have a brown leather
strap and need to pick out three picture buttons that snap onto
it. What do I like best? Cats! It takes forever for my SSP to
describe the different pictures in detail. I can't make up my
mind. Finally I select a black cat, a white cat and a purple cat.
It's meant for children, but I don't care. I like my bracelet. I
At this booth, we look at flat rings. Large stones and designs
are bothersome when I use tactile sign language. I have been
searching for rings for years. Here I find two I like. They are
both tactile. Which should I get?
The person running the booth tells me each ring costs $15, or I
can buy both for $25. I like the sound of that. I like my rings.
I am happy.
I admire the new rings on my fingers. One has footprints embedded
in the silver surface. On the inner side, it reads, "When I
Carried You." This is a reference to a famous poem. Have you
heard it before?
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, "You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in
is when I carried you."
I think of the near future, in just two weeks, when I will begin
graduate school at Ashland University. I consider my love of
poetry. I know this adventure will be rewarding and challenging.
At times, I will need someone to carry me. I buy the ring to
symbolize my feelings about what is soon to happen. I love the
poem. I am happy.
I examine silly candy outside a shope called Off the Wagon. I get
excited when I discover they have Zots. It's a candy from my
childhood days, when my brothers and I used to walk to Convenient
for candy. Tony and I loved Zots. I wish he was still alive to
enjoy them with me now. I buy cherry for me, sour apple for my
son and blue raspberry for us to split. I am happy.
We are strolling down the street with all the food. I devour the
scent of everything. My SSP tells me what the vendors are
selling: corn dogs, fried cheese sticks, Italian sausage, kettle
corn, pulled pork sandwiches, french fries... I am always a few
steps ahead of him. There are too many choices. I want it all! I
settle on a pepperoni and cheese stromboli and a Pepsi. The food
is delicious. I am happy.
We sit and talk at a table near the funnel cakes. I eat dessert
in the form of sniffing the air. I wonder if they would charge me
if they knew what I was up to. Sometimes just the smell of
something is enough. It stimulates one of my senses that actually
works. I am happy.
I'm ready to go, but first we need to stop and buy some Girl
Scout cookies. They have them in a big coolers so the chocolate
won't melt. They are out of Thin Mints. I get a box of Samoas,
Tagalongs and Savannah Smiles. I've never seen Girl Scout cookies
at the Heritage Festival before, but I'm not complaining. I am
The red-brick road is so bumpy under my wheelchair. I find it odd
and sweet that Kent still has a brick road. The day is warm but
not too hot. I feel that my skin has been slightly kissed by
sunburn. I don't mind. My community festival is here, and so am
I. I am happy.
Angela C. Orlando
"I am Happy"
July 5th, 2014
contact me at Angie.C.Orlando@gmail.com