Fingers, Ears, and Heart Wide Open
Fingers, Ears, and Heart Wide Open
By Monette Benoit
Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
Court reporters and court reporting instructors are fascinating!
Court reporting students have wonderful stories to share with detailed triumphs and challenges each has overcome. And I believe this is what makes this profession so wonderful.
During the NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) Teachers’ Workshop, I was enjoying dinner in a fine restaurant. My companions shared thoughts and ideas. While Cecilee Wilson spoke, Gayl Hardeman, Laura Taylor and I listened intently.
As we dined and I listened to Cecilee, I knew court reporting students and working court reporters, CART providers and broadcast captioners would want to know this true story.
Each day as I tutor experienced court reporters and court reporting students, I affirm that we are each talented in our unique way. Cecilee Wilson expanded my world and now here I share with you.
Cecilee Wilson, RMR, CRR, is a captioner and CART provider. She is inspirational. Cecilee finished school in Bountiful, Utah, and married her high school sweetheart. Her husband told her about co-workers attending reporting school. They were going to work a little and retire early because of the money.
“Then he said, ‘Bet you can’t do that,’” recalls Cecilee.
Cecilee enrolled. “I didn’t do well; others were better. I’d rather go to the dentist and get teeth drilled without Novocain than go to (court reporting) class.”
She and her husband joined the Air Force. They were stationed in New Jersey. She enrolled in Harris School of Business. Cecilee discharged after her daughter’s birth. They were transferred to England, then Salt Lake. She transferred to Abilene and enrolled in the Stenograph Institute of Texas.
She worked hard, passing a test each week until December, took time off to have her third baby girl, returned in January and passed the RPR in May 1977. Cecilee moved back to Salt Lake City and continued reporting.
She split with her husband after 14 years and five children, including a four-month-old son. On her baby’s six-month birthday, Cecilee’s neighbor asked if she wanted a ride on his Harley.
A car pulled out. “I heard the boom and blacked out.” She remembers saying, “Well, I’m not dead, that’s good.”
She gave herself a physical. “I needed a Band-Aid on my hand. If my feet would get the feeling back, I’d go to work tomorrow.” It was dark. She couldn’t see the bones sticking out of her hand and didn’t know both feet were broken.
Her right hand was pinned and casts were put on both legs. The pins were removed and “my divorce was final the same week. A friend offered to line me up with some guy.”
Cecilee was readmitted with an infection in her arm. “MY friend wanted me to meet him. My blind date consisted of her and her husband bringing him to the hospital. He joked I was a cheap date. We got married in three months.”
Within two years, they had a baby. “Eight kids: five mine, two his and one ours,” she says.
She was out of work nine months with three surgeries and physical therapy. Cecilee recovered “almost all of my hand. I was a reporter again.”
She wanted to caption in 1989 but hit dead ends.
“When my mother died in ’92, I used my inheritance for everything—captioning software, encoder,” she explains.
“I called a station and told them I’d caption pro bono the governor’s state of the state address. The station decided to caption a script, but kept my card. In March, Easter Seals was looking to caption their telethon. The station gave them my card. I captioned 14 hours in two days. Soon I captioned the University of Utah’s football games, which led to Utah Jazz and University of Utah basketball. And I was still working in court.”
During her second Jazz season, the Utah Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing phoned.
“They had seen my blurb at the end of games.”
She met with the council. They took her to meet the TV station general managers. Nobody was interested then. Later she was contacted by a general manager who wanted to caption—the next week.
“I was walking out the door for a trip to Hawaii.” She negotiated from her hotel and started the next week. Six months later she took on another station.
She worked all day in court, wrote the 5:30 news from her office, drove home and wrote the 9 and 10 p.m. news or a three-hour game. She finished at 11:45 p.m. one night with a game in overtime and trial the next morning.
“Clearly this was killing me,” says Cecilee. “I had to quit court; the rest is history.”
Cecilee now has six grandchildren, three girls, three boys.
She spends her free time knitting, crocheting, spinning, and quilting.
They raise sheep. “As lawn mowers for pasture; in the spring we shear them. I spin the wool, as time allows. We put some in the freezer. When my kids want to know what the name is of the new lamb, we say, ‘Dinner’. It keeps the in-laws from visiting, especially when they know the Thanksgiving turkey is grown in our yard.”
Her husband, Leroy, has a degree in ceramic art and currently is earning a degree in education. He wants to teach. “He does all the cooking,” she says. “Sometimes he brings me food while I’m captioning.” During a Salt Lake City tornado, she was on-air four hours with no commercials. He brought sodas with a straw and held them for her.
One year, she “thought it would be cool to make an NCRA centennial quilt and donate it to the NCRF auction.” NCRF sent past logos.
“That became the main design. I have quilt frames behind my chair. During commercials, I have a hard time doing nothing for two minutes. I turn around, quilt, drop the needle and caption again.”
As she recounted these details, my Pittsburgh dining companions and I listened. You could’ve heard a pin drop at our table. I slowly sipped my glass of wine, wide-eyed as she spoke.
I asked Cecilee what motivates her.
“The only thing remarkable about me is that I am very unremarkable. People have supported and helped me. I am continually thankful.”
What keeps her smiling?
“I think my life is a reflection of love of God and Jesus Christ—God for allowing me trials and giving me strength to overcome them; Jesus Christ for giving me His example and being my savior. That’s really the truth.”
I’ll always remember her gracious big smile and gentle laugh.
Cecilee Wilson is way beyond any comfort zone. Ears, fingers, heart and wise soul, wide open, sharing truly and purely.
Monette Benoit may be reached at: Tutoring@CRRbooks.com
Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com
Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal
Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist
Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com
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About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.
Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.
She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.
Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.
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