We were staying somewhere North or East of Wales and when flipping through the television stations came upon a Welsh station. We watched for a bit in fascination and admiration as we are aware of the Welsh determination to reclaim their language. I once joked in front of an audience in Wales that I desperately want to kiss one of them before I die, I figure if they can get their tongues around all those letters in those words, they may just be the best kissers on earth. Sadly, I've never been able to test this theory.
The same is true here in Scotland, we were watching the Eggheads on BBC2 Scotland and as soon as it was over a pair of youngsters came on air speaking in Gaelic (pronounced Gay Lick, and, of course, there will be no comment made). Again, I was impressed with the way the two kids were injecting fun into the program and, I knew, thereby teaching the language to others.
I thought about this the other day when Joe and I stopped on the Motorway to have a cup of tea and a bite to eat. As we were eating a young man with Down Syndrome, wearing the uniform of the restaurant, was busing dishes and wiping tables. He seemed a bit nervous in his job. He nodded, friendly like to all the diners who nodded, friendly like back at him. He came to us and noticed that we'd done eating. Like a thousand busboys before him, he asked if he could clear the plates. We leaned back and let him take the large plates. Joe said, smiling, 'This will give us more room to relax and have our tea.'
Out of no-where the bus boy advanced upon us with a small pot of hot water and he proceeded to refresh our tea. Very cool. We thanked him. After returning the water he was on at the next table, I asked him how long he had worked there, he said that he'd only started a couple of days ago. It was his first job. His face lit up when he said 'job'. It was like he never imagined it would happen, now here he was working.
'You must be proud of yourself,' I said. He now turned bright red and I could see he was embarrassed. His smile let me know that it was OK that I'd said it. Joe and I began to finish up our tea and get ready to get back on the road. He saw our empty cups and came and took Joe's and as he was picking up mine he said, 'Yes, I am proud.'
Disabled people are reclaiming language too ... the language of pride, the language of employment, the language of relationships. It still sounds foreign to the ear, but, aye, it's a beautiful way of speaking.