Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Ronald S. Opatich

Happy Saturday, my Messy friends  Today I have the privilege of having Ronald S. Opatich visiting with us today.  We met on Twitter through a mutual friend and it's been a pleasure getting to know him and I know you're going to enjoy it as well.  I'll allow him to tell you about himself.

My name is Ronald S. Opatich who happens to have parents who are both deaf.  I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and started out working in one of the steel mills dotted throughout the Youngstown/ Warren, Ohio area.

After most of the steel mills closed in 1980, I was fortunate enough because of my sign language skills to begin a new career as a professional sign language interpreter in Columbus, Ohio.  I have been in the field of deafness and/or in the interpreting profession for 33 years now and have been blessed to have a career that has changed people’s lives or made them better.  It has been very fulfilling indeed.

In addition to my profession, I have a passion for travel, photography and writing about my experiences.  Hence I created a new travel blog, ( to satisfy all three!
Currently I am a video relay sign language interpreter for Sorenson Communications in Portland, OR.

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Thanks, Ronald for joining us and being a part of the Mess.  We're glad to have you with us.

Now, settle back with that morning cup of coffee and enjoy Ronald's piece, Toddler.


It is an early morning summer day in 1953 and a woman in her late 30s is in her kitchen preparing bacon and eggs for breakfast.  In those days women wore dresses and she was making sure bacon grease did not splatter on her fairly new pink & white flower print dress so she also had an apron draped around her. 

After frying the bacon to a crispy golden brown, she would skillfully crack an egg on the edge of the skillet and with one hand and separate the shell so the egg yolk would fall helplessly into the hot buttered laden pan. 

Suddenly on her left side she felt a tug on the lower part of her dress and apron. She looked down to see her toddler son pulling on the bottom of her dress and at the same time sucking his thumb.  

He continued to pull on her dress as if he was a passenger on a train pulling on a cord string.

This is a perfect scene that was probably played out by millions of moms & toddlers that morning on that early summer day. 

However this scene is slightly different because this mom did not hear her son come waddling up to her asking in that 4 year old voice of his if he could have some milk.

The reason she didn't hear him waddle up to her is because she was profoundly deaf. Deaf since she was 18 months old probably due to a combination of getting whooping cough and the lack of medical knowledge to know how to treat it. 

She has wanted a baby for a long time and the fact that she was deaf did not stop her.  She and her husband were having the pure joy of finally having a child of their own. I could also well imagine for her and her husband who was also deaf, that this was a scary and daunting time to figure out how to raise a hearing child in a hearing world where deaf people really were not a part of. 

In those days there were no professional certified sign language interpreters, no closed caption TVs, no one having any idea what deaf people go through in their daily lives or what deaf culture is all about.

That toddler was me and all I wanted at this point was a Glass of milk and I knew I had to get her attention.  To do that I knew I needed to tug on her dress and in sign language say "milk!"

My parents are gone now but they would be truly amazed at the advances we have come with technologies I mention above along with video phones, video relay interpreting and more and more people learning sign language.  

However I bet to this day, there is a little boy or girl somewhere pulling on their mommy or daddy's pant leg, asking of milk and cookies in sign language. Some things never change. 

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Did you enjoy what you read?  Leave me a comment and then join me at The Mess that Is Me on Facebook!

Other posts you might enjoy ~ The Mess Welcomes Matt Best 
                                                 The Mess Welcomes Matthew Krause 
                                                 The Mess Welcomes Sherry Rentschler 

Thanks for visiting The Mess! Keep chasing your dreams!


  1. Great article! I think it is even more special when someone shares a part of their life. Thank you Ron for this inspiring and educational post. and thank you Robbie for spotting a great guest blogger!

    1. Always a pleasure to have great people visit the Mess, Margie. And I agree, some of the best stories are those derived from people's lives. Thanks for visiting!