Are You Hard of Hearing?

Did you hear what I heard?  There are many different degrees of hearing loss, from slight to profound. I know I’m lucky that mine, although more than slight, is not profound. The hearing doctor believed it’s a side-effect from having the Measles when I was about eight years old.  I say “about” because my eighth year was the most tragic year of my life. It was the year my dad died, just two months after my eighth birthday.

Until recently, I believed the line between the “before” and “after” periods in my life was caused by the loss of my father. However, I’m now convinced the horror of the time that followed was due to being consciously unaware of my hearing loss, failing to understand. Do we refuse to accept our handicaps in order to cope?

Many years later, in my thirties, I was married with four children when my husband remarked on my hearing. I decided to get tested. Not that I hadn’t been accused of  it before, the crucial difference being “accused”, as though I was willfully refusing to hear. My mother’s most famous line was “You hear when you want to!” Other remarks were more critical “Why don’t you pay attention!” Some remarks were more derogatory.

I’d heard the derogatory remarks aimed at my eldest brother and only sister, the first two children in our family, as both suffered from severe hearing loss. I witnessed people being rude to them and decided I would NOT be hard of hearing. This was more subconscious than not, of course, as I simply incorporated lipreading and close attention in my interactions with others. In fact, the hearing doctor pointed out the soreness in my shoulders, which I thought I’d always had, “Your whole body strains to hear.”

My mother had keen hearing but she thought our dad’s hearing suffered somewhat. If we had a hereditary weakness toward hearing loss it likely came from his side of the family. When the next generation (at least three grandchildren, one deaf in one ear, two others profound) suffered hearing losses, the hereditary factor seemed evident. Of course as children, all of us suffered colds and ear infections, as children tend to do. It appears that for some, they may have led to a degree of deafness. My own son, who as an Air Force Officer, served twenty-some years as a Navigator, near retirement suffered a mild hearing loss. Those planes made a lot of noice!

But, on to the consequences of the hearing loss in my own life, which I can’t claim to be a common occurrence. It’s taken me years to come to these conclusions but I’ll share them as I believe them to be true. Before my bout with the Measles or my dad’s death I was a “straight A” student, afterwards my grades fell drastically. I know that sometimes I didn’t hear the teacher correctly. I also remember somebody talking to me on a phone. I heard a voice but could not understand what it said even though it kept repeating stuff. I was embarrassed and began to withdraw socially.

Think about it, you who are not hard of hearing. You’re embarrassed at having folks around you repeat things to a point that you may pretend to understand (“understanding” wrongly!). They may think you are (gasp!) retarded. Although I worked part-time during high school as a waitress, or in the movie-house as a ticket-taker or usher, and worked in offices later, earning good reviews in all of them, my attention and lip-reading being a big help, I often questioned what I heard. I often repeated myself, not sure if the other person heard what I said.  My hearing loss changed me before I ever knew I suffered from it.

As far as hearing aids go, it’s only been within the past few years that a new one came along which  worked  well for me. I was grateful from the time I began wearing them that they helped but my older siblings were not so lucky.  For years there were no good aids for nerve loss, which is undoubtedly what they also suffered from. They are quite expensive and many lower-income people can’t afford them.

I believe all our life experiences work together to help us become who we really are.  If so, both my love of reading and loss of hearing have led me to express who I really am.

TO YOU FROM ME

Just a quick hello to let you know I’m still working on my novel. It’s slow going but with more than 40,000 words completed I’m now well into the second half. I hope to speed it up a little. I’m leaving the early chapters posted here unchanged even though they’ve been edited in my finished (so far) manuscript. Thanks for your continued interest.

Memory From Good Old Days

Once, when I was a young girl at the age of nine, I dreamed I wrote a book. When I saw the title on the cover with my name beneath it, I was amazed! For days afterwards I would try to remember the title, but couldn’t. Although the dream had planted the idea in my mind I told nobody about it. I believed it was foolish to even think I could do such a thing. Others would shame me if they knew of my conceit, that I even dared to dream I had written a book! Who was I to think I could write something others would want to read?

Forward thirteen years to age twenty-two. I had recently married and was also expecting my first child. I confided in my new husband, telling him I’d always wanted to write (the first time I’d ever dared to tell anyone!). “Then why aren’t you writing?” he said, as if what I’d said was not outrageously ridiculous! Duh! Don’t ask me why I didn’t know that if I wanted to write I should be writing! Perhaps it was the result of an inferiority complex. But after that I began taking pen to paper. When I later read what I’d written I blushed with embarrassment. The writing was full of cliches. As much as I had read, and I’d always been an avid reader, I knew too many cliches meant poor writing.

Forward to age thirty-three, the mother of four young children, all in school. I dared to enroll in a writer’s workshop. We had this wonderful teacher who had us put our writing on a large blackboard and the class would critique what we’d written. Thankfully, sharing our writing with the class was not required. Perhaps Mr. Young (bless his heart!) knew I was very insecure about my writing and did not draw attention to me or pressure me. I remember thinking one evening that my writing was just as good as some of the other writings on the board and I began posting mine.

That’s how my first written piece (besides all the ones I’d rejected and thrown away, of course) was written. Mr. Young told me it was publishable and to send the mss to Good Old Days magazine, a nostalgic publication. My piece was called “The Log Train,” a short story about my siblings and I watching for the log train to come out of the hollow where we lived in the Kentucky Mountains, how we played in the meadow beside the old tracks and called “Log Train’s Coming” when we heard the screeching of the iron wheels on the metal tracks. It was during a glorious yet short time in our young lives after our dad had died leaving a widow and eight children, the older children caring for and providing for the younger ones, my baby brother age six and me age eight.

March 1973 Issue

I cannot tell you how that short piece of writing, taking up only one page in the magazine, changed my life. No, I didn’t become a “writer”, so to speak, except for a few pieces here and there and finally a family book in 2006 called “Stories of a Kentucky Mountain Family As Told by Two Sisters and a Brother,” in which I also included many of my eldest brother and only sister’s writings.

Back to the day I received two copies of the March 1973 edition of the magazine: I hadn’t heard back about my submission until the day I received the copies. My little story was on page 11 (my birth path number in numerology). I looked at the printed page in wonder (I later received a check for $9.00). What it did for my self-esteem was unimaginable. As if it confirmed to me that I was still alive. And I still marvel at the change it made in my life, which is too much to go into here. But the latest thing that’s happened regarding the outcome of the story of The Log Train may be hard to believe. Although I saved the magazine for a while, during several moves and interruptions it disappeared. I had lost track and forgotten how important it had once been in my life.

Click image to read the story

This July (2019) 4th my daughter Teresa, her husband and two of my grandchildren went to Des Moines to celebrate the 4th with my son-in-law’s family. On the way home they stopped at a place called Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Altoona, Iowa, and were browsing. They came across some Good Old Days magazines and Teresa called me to find out what year my little story The Log Train was published in the magazine. I can’t believe it took me awhile to remember (I’m getting old so I had to dig deep!) but I finally timed it because I suddenly remembered that when I began studying Astrology I learned I’d had a progressed New Moon that began the very same month the story appeared in the magazine, which was March, 1973.

Teresa learned someone on eBay had the Good Old Days magazines for that year. She bought them for me. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hold the copy with my story in my hands. I hadn’t realized fully until now how such a “small” thing (in many ways) had changed my life for the better. It’s also amazing that Teresa, who was only nine years old that year remembered that pivotal time and that she sensed how important it was to me. I am blessed in so many ways.

Serendipity?

What a shame that you found out your parents had feet of clay – horrors!  They did stupid things when they were young!  How could they!  Didn’t they know that some day they would have children who would be embarrassed by them!  Just a thought for the day.  Think about it.  Give your parents a break.  They were young once too, just like you.  If you’re entitled to do stupid things to be overlooked by the next generation then so are they. 

Sleep On It!

Yesterday evening my 15-year-old grandson and I were having one of our occasional heart-to-heart talks. As it was getting close to bedtime the subject turned to why, as we’d heard, sleep was necessary.  Why couldn’t a person just rest awhile, without sleeping?  Because–we had heard–if unable to sleep or allowed to, one would eventually go mad.  The question which came to us next was:  Why?  Did we “go” somewhere when we slept? 

This morning when I awoke I found myself ruminating about recent experiences. Realizing, for the first time, certain aspects of personal problems I had been unaware of. Even to the point of failing to address them. Answers awaited. Filling in the gaps in my understanding.  As if I had consulted an oracle in my sleep who answered questions lingering in my mind.  I now understand “Sleep on it” for the first time.