I’ve been wanting to write this post for six years. Seriously. This is the day that I get to start telling the world about one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met.
His name is Kenny Tedford. And he’s the subject of my new book that’s being published today, called Four Days with Kenny Tedford. And despite the title, it’s one I’ve been working on for over six years. So, I’m incredibly pleased to tell you that it’s finally on shelves today.
I can also confidently say that it’s the most meaningful book I’ve ever written, or ever will. And once I explain to you a little about Kenny Tedford, you’ll understand why.
Now, I’m going to have a lot more to say about Kenny and this book in other posts. In fact, I’ll probably bring him on my podcast and let you get to know him personally. But I think what I should do here is let you meet Kenny Tedford the way I met Kenny Tedford, which I explain on the first few pages of the book.
So, if you’ll indulge me, I’m just going to share those first two and a half pages to you so you can see how we met, and get to know a little about Kenny.
Excerpt from the Four Days with Kenny Tedford, page i.
I was sitting in the front row waiting for the next performance to start when I saw him. He was a large man. Sixty-ish. With grey hair encircling a bald head, and glasses thick enough to start a fire on a sunny day.
He walked slowly and deliberately, with a slight list to one side. He made his way down the aisle and sat in the chair next to me.
Following quickly behind him was a twenty-something man with dark hair. The young man pulled one of the empty chairs out of the row, turned it around backwards, placed it directly in front of the older man, and sat down with his back to the stage.
I was intrigued, to say the least.
A few minutes later, the next speaker walked on stage and started her performance. The young man, who’d been staring at the older man, silent and motionless since sitting down, suddenly sprang into action. He lifted his hands in front of his chest and began a flurry of cryptic motions that identified him immediately as a sign language interpreter, and the older man as deaf.
I thought that was pretty ballsy, a deaf guy at a three-day storytelling festival.
I knew immediately I wanted to meet him. So at the next break, I introduced myself. We exchanged a few pleasantries, enough to know that he was an affable sort of guy. But we both had to go to our next set of workshops.
An hour later, I was walking with a tray of food, looking for an empty table, and that same affable fellow walked up to me and asked if I wanted to have lunch with him. I quickly accepted.
We sat at a table by ourselves, his interpreter having been given time off for lunch.
For the next hour, I listened to Kenny Tedford tell his story.
I listened while he spoke with impressive diction, but with the muted tones of a deaf person. And he read my lips, seemingly, as easily as I spoke with them.
But, underneath the telltale tone of his voice, I noticed something else telling. His vocabulary and sentence structure were both charmingly juvenile. As his story unfolded, I started to understand why. His deafness turned out to be only one of many challenges life dealt Kenny Tedford. He was almost blind in one eye, and had poor vision in the other, partially paralyzed on his left side, unable to speak well until the age of ten, and had somewhat limited cognitive abilities,