For this Sunday’s “Every Picture has a Story”, I chose the one above. It was taken towards the end of 1988. Except for my wife’s death last year, this was the most traumatic year of my life. When this picture was taken we were finishing up our 2nd year of marriage, and were attending a wedding of one of the countless nieces and nephews I inherited as a result of the marriage.
The year began with the final stages of completely losing my hearing. When I would get up in the morning it was anyone’s guess whether I would be hearing or not. I had been hanging on to that last sliver of hearing for a couple of months. Finally, one day in the summer months it was gone. In some ways, I was glad, as I no longer had to face the trauma of not knowing each morning. When I went to my ear doctor he simply said there is nothing he could do for me so, goodbye. There were no referrals for help in coping with the loss, just a goodbye.
I had told my wife when I proposed to her a couple of years earlier that I would likely be deaf within a few years and I would understand if she said no. Luckily, for me, she enthusiastically said “yes”. I thought we were prepared for this event, but I found out that there was really nothing that could have prepared me. There was just a vast difference between being hard-of-hearing vs being totally deaf. It would take several years before I even began to become comfortable with this new malady.
You can see in the picture that a small notepad and pencil always accompanied me whenever I left the house. I asked people to write down what they were saying, but I would be surprised by the number of people who refused to do that. Their solution was to just talk louder, or just walk away.
I remember the first vacation trip we took after my deafness ensued. It was chaotic. There was no GPS in those days, so everything had to be done with a paper map. That meant the co-pilot had to tell the pilot where to turn and such. Needless to say we didn’t take another vacation for a few years. By then we were more accomplished with sign language.
Getting back to the picture, this was the first big social event that occurred after deafness. You can probably see in my face my frustration of having to basically sit in the corner and watch. I wouldn’t have made it through the corresponding years without her constant help. She kept me socially involved in many things, and I eventually found a way to communicate with my fellow employee in order to do my job.
When she died about 14 months ago, I didn’t know if I could live without her help, but with the very capable staff here at them RetCom home, I am managing much better than I expected. I still thank God for all of them.