Slice of the Family Reunion

I promised you more. You can have it in slices.

For the past few years my mother and father have been gradually going deaf. My husband lost a good part of his hearing many years ago after spending four years cuddled up to the boiler of a ship in the Navy. My father doesn't think he has a hearing problem, but misses things and my mother has gotten to the point she finally got hearing aids a few months ago. Hubs has been checked and the kind of deafness he has can't be fixed with hearing aids. So, all in all I've learned to deal with the people in my life who are losing their hearing.

My husband is funny with his. He will gradually turn up the television as it gets more exciting or as the movie changes from a loud scene to a soft conversation. I have been known to have to repeat those conversations in a movie theater to him (yes, we're one of those people)… but we rarely go to movies anymore and instead I just listen to him gradually dialing up the volume. One night when he was in the livingroom and I was in the bedroom trying to watch something different, the volume got to be so loud that I turned my TV up as loud as it would go and waited to see how long it would take him to realize it. The dogs were barking and going nuts and finally he came in laughing and admitted it must have been a little loud.  He also is notorious for 'faking' it. I'll say something to him and he's been known to reply, "I love you too". That's all well and nice, honey, but that wasn't what I said.

In living with these people I've learned to project my voice. Not shout, just enunciate and put a little extra push in there to get my words across.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Remember the family reunion? Yeah. 700 miles round-trip. About half-way down there (Missouri, if anyone cares) my mother announces she hasn't put in her hearing aids yet, but she had better before we get there. Mm'kay. Why didn't she put them in at home? I'm so not understanding this.

Then, as we were leaving to come home I told her to call Dad to let him know we were on our way. She popped out one hearing aid saying she can't talk on the phone with them. She made her call, I kept driving. About 50 miles down the road she suddenly realized she hadn't put it back into her ear and now can't find it. She's checking around her body, her seat, the 300-count box of kleenex she brought with, the floor. No luck. Finally I pulled over into a driveway and had her carefully get out of the car while I proceeded to search the whole car, seat, kleenex, etc., again. In one last move, I put the seat all the way forward so I could get a good look underneath. There it was, caught in the seat track. Undamaged – how, I'll never know.

I came home not only exhausted from the trip, but the never-ending words coming out of my mother and the "projected voice" replies I had to make. I don't understand why some people must fill every bit of silence. I am perfectly comfortable traveling for long distances without having to fill the silence with … filler. Stories I've heard before (repeated at least twice during the trip). More stories about people I don't even know. Discussion about my Dad until the topic had been beat to a pulp and run under the bus.

What probably flabbergasted me the most was last week when I went to see my parents and in talking to Dad about the family reunion how much of it my mother missed. I wasn't sure if she just didn't hear or just didn't understand. I'm guess she didn't hear it. She faked her way through it pretty good, though. 

Remind me of this the next time I volunteer for this duty, okay? 

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Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

8 thoughts on “Slice of the Family Reunion”

  1. I once heard a theory that women who chatter on incessantly are actually very insecure and try to cover that up with talking.

    I have found it to be true in my life.

  2. That’s one thing I like about our car rides. After you catch me up on the latest gossip you don’t mind silence. Makes it nice I don’t have to tape your mouth shut.

  3. I tend to be a talker and my fiancee is more into “quiet”, so I can relate to your frustration on the ride home, but from the perspective of the other person. Some people are more introverted in nature and prefer it more silent unless there is something to say. Others – and I tend to fall into that category – like to have ongoing conversation. For me, I talk through things, so conversation helps me process. I know others are like this too and we drive the introverted types a bit nuts!

    OK, I’ll shut up now and give you a little peace! 😉

  4. I am a listener, and I share your husbands hearing dilemma. I find myself pushing the remote volume control only to realize it is maxed out and have gone to adding one of my P.A. systems with a mixer so I can “punch” the levels I have difficulty hearing as opposed to punching the volume.
    And I think “I love you too” is the perfect response to a missed conversation any time.

  5. Well, both of my parents are losing their sight. A while similar but frustratingly different set of problems…my dad is ALWAYS losing his glasses, and accusing my mom of stealing them and hiding them from him! Hours of family fun!

  6. I’m going with you on your next road trip! I had to make a day trip for work today and I *could* have taken someone with me from the office. The only person who was free is a chatterer and I couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck for hours in a car, listening to blather.

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