“Mrs. Mac,” Grace asked, her smile slightly less bright than a 1000 watt bulb. Do you think Jenny can have that piece of paper? She’s so excited!”
It was a seemingly blank piece of white paper that contained nothing other than a UBS logo in the corner. That is, until more closely examined by eager fingertips.
The card stock was covered with tiny bumps of Braille.
Jenny was from an outreach program for the blind. When Grace handed her the piece of paper, you would’ve thought Jenny had won the grand prize on a game show.
She giggled as her finger tips danced across the small bumps, saying each English letter she recognized. “K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E”.
“Knowledge,” Grace said, in language learner slow, before repeating in Chinese. “Zhīshi.”
And then two more words, “A-N-D….D-I-R-E-C-T-I-O-N.”
As Jenny decoded the advertisement, my mind thought of Raphie in the Christmas Story, his disappointment of deciphering the DRINK YOUR OVALTINE message. I crossed my fingers, hoping Jenny be asking Grace to explain the meaning of “C-A-L-L 1- 8-0-0- T-O-D-A-Y”.
I looked at Jenny, her smile, her changed world. I wondered if she could sense my glossy eyes.
All because of a seemingly blank sheet of paper.
I thought of how the Braille ended up in China. It was from my former life in advertising, when I had been working on a pro-bono project for the National Blind Society. For some reason, this Braille sample wasn’t thrown out with my laminated coupon ads and Pulitzer prize winning cereal box writing. The thick sheet of paper went unnoticed for years in a Scooby-Doo folder. But Scooby was something I did rescue from my storage unit as school folders are as hard to come by in China as size nine women shoes, (which are ten times easier to find than English Braille samples).
The Scooby folder also contained another “how did this end up in China?” piece of paper.
One that was crinkled and with a coffee stain in one corner, the Illinois Department of Revenue logo in the other.
The document was one my lawyer would also request that same day, saving me from a “Rut-row” situation of calling Springfield, Illinois at three in the morning from China, trying to explain why I needed a form filed in 2011 faxed to a number in Wisconsin.
Just as I forgot about that piece of paper and that coffee stained document, I’m sure that I’ll forget about the magic of today, the coincidences that were anything but, which coincidentally happened on the anniversary of my father’s passing. He also had a magic touch with paper,too.
The day ended with my youngest student reading his first sentence: “Dad is Sad”. His pronunciation sounded a bit like Scooby-doo, the S’s sneaking through a gap of a few missing teeth. But those three words gave me goose bumps the size of Braille dots.
Rank Rou, Scooby-Doo. Thank you Shaggy, Velma, Veronica and Freddy, too.