The Secret to Happiness During Adversity

By Joan Janzen

A genie would grant one wish, so the man said “I just want to be happy”. He instantly found himself living in a cottage with six dwarves and working in a mine.

Happiness can be challenging for people of all ages. There’s plenty to be unhappy about, with rising inflation, increased taxes, and so much more. The story of a deaf girl’s life reveals how it takes a supportive community and perseverance to overcome challenges and ensure happiness.

Over a decade ago Sue Thomas was interviewed by Moira Brown. Sue passed away at the age of 72 in December, 2022. She became profoundly deaf at the age of 18 months, and her parents were advised to place her in an institution, but refused.

“I had to learn how to speak,” Sue explained. “I sat in front of the mirror with my therapist, forming my mouth as she formed her mouth. I had seven years of speech therapy.” That’s how she learned lip reading.

Her parents enrolled her in a public school; she was the only deaf child in her school district. “No one knew how to work with me. I was just passed from class to class,” she recalled. Finally one of her teachers saw her true potential and Sue’s education improved. That teacher was one of many people who were instrumental in changing Sue’s life.

At the age of 7, the little deaf girl became Ohio’s figure skating champion. Sue couldn’t hear the music, but she said, “My coach took it upon himself to skate hand in hand with me over and over until I had it memorized.” When it came time for her final performance, he would stand perfectly still on the outside of the rink. All of a sudden he’d be jumping up and down waving his hands, letting her know it was time for her to begin.

During her adult years, Sue encouraged parents who had a child with an adversity, telling them that with perseverance there’s nothing your child can’t do. And Sue’s mother proved that to be true.

“At the age of 5 they brought a piano in. My mom was persistent that I was going to have the love of music,” she said. “Over and over she’d practice with me, and she’d say some day you’re going to thank me for this. I had never experienced those vibrations before. I studied classical piano; I love it!”

As a young girl, she had many accomplishments under her belt, but she had only just begun! She got her first service dog, named Levi, and went on to college where she studied political science, and international relations.

At the age of 30, she panicked when she heard the FBI was looking for her, but it turned out they hired her because of her lip reading ability. “I would watch the bad guys talk and I would tell the good guys what they were saying,” Sue explained. “I became their secret weapon.”

In 2002 Hollywood produced an award-winning TV series, based on Sue’s work with the FBI. The series was shown in 64 nations around the world, and brought Sue international recognition. She was sought after as a public speaker all over the world and spoke to audiences of up to 45,000 people where she encouraged her audience with her life story.

Sue’s best friend was her Mom, and she missed her so much when she passed away. “My first Christmas without her I told my travelling companion I didn’t want to celebrate,” she said. Instead she took her companion to a play. When they arrived at their motel, Sue saw two homeless people on the street. That was the beginning of “Operation Silent Night”, when Sue would help the homeless, every year on Christmas Eve.

“My story is not my own,” she said. “There were so many people who believed in me, and gave a part of their life to me, to help make me into what I am today.” And in return, Sue reached out to thousands and believed in them. It’s the secret to happiness in the midst of adversity.

For the latest information and for more updates on everything Kindersley,
‘Like’ the Kindersley Social Facebook page!

Related Articles

Back to top button