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Louise Treadwell Tracy
Blessed Among Women
By SuzanneWoods Fisher

In 1924, Mrs. Spencer Tracy bent down to pick up her ten-month-old son, John, to wake him from a nap.  The door accidentally slammed shut, but the baby didn’t startle.  Surprised, Mrs. Tracy called out his name in a loud voice.  She even shouted it.  But baby John slept on.  At that precise moment, she knew that her child was deaf.  Frightened and overwhelmed, at first Mrs. Tracy couldn’t even tell her husband about her discovery until visits to doctors confirmed her suspicion.  The best medical opine of the day recommended that the Tracy’s wait a few years and then send John to a state special education school.  In the medical community of the 1920s, deaf and dumb went together like salt and pepper. 

Except for one doctor. 

There was one specialist who encouraged Mrs. Tracy to keep on talking to John.  And so she did.  Talking, singing, teaching him to listen and to associate sounds to meanings. A year or so later, she was told, “Mrs. Tracy, you are blessed among women.  Yours can be a very interesting life.”

And indeed it was, in a way that had nothing to do with Hollywood’s glamour as her husband racked up two Oscar Awards.  Louise Treadwell Tracy taught her young son to lip read and learn to talk so effectively that he later graduated from the (now named) California Institute of the Arts and has had a successful career at Disney Studios.  In 1942, Louise Tracy took what she had learned and created the John Tracy Clinic, the first preschool program for deaf children.  She provided correspondence courses for families to use to help develop oral communication in their deaf child during those critical years of language acquisition before the age of five.  Since then, the clinic has served more than 60,000 families in 134 countries.

Blessed among women?  Surely, Louise Tracy didn’t feel very blessed on that afternoon when she realized her baby son was deaf.  No doubt she felt alone, scared, disappointed with God, terribly worried about her son’s future.  But blessed?  Not then, not at that moment.  Not when suffering hits home.  Not when it involves our child.  It is too personal. 

And that may be the very reason that God allows suffering, disappointment, affliction and grief to penetrate our four walls and reach into our homes, our hearts.

In 1983, Louise Tracy passed away at the age of 87, and did, indeed, consider herself blessed among women.  She was an enlightened woman, far ahead of her times, gutsy and intuitive.  John’s deafness turned her life upside down, and revealed a path for her to take that changed the lives of thousands and thousands of deaf children. This unexpected circumstance in her child’s life was transformed into a blessing for others. 
 

 

Suzanne Woods Fisher's debut novel, Copper Star, a World War II love story, released in June 2007 and hit the #1 spot on the Publisher's Bestseller List. Fisher is a contributing editor for Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her work has appeared in Today's Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, Marriage Partnership, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Cup of Comfort, and many others. Copper Fire, the sequel to Copper Star, will release in May 2008. Married with four children, Fisher lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Visit her online at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

 

 

 

 

 

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