Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Dad's Sounds Of Silence

A little late for Father's Day, but . . .

One way in which my dad is an unsung hero is that he struggles very quietly with a personal battle. He's more than half deaf, and has had to deal with that all his life.

It'd almost be better if he were totally deaf. He wears a hearing aid, but all it does is magnify every sound, ESPECIALLY BACKGROUND NOISE. As a result, he can't participate much in family get-togethers because he can't hear what any individual one of us says. And it takes an incredible amount of concentration for him to be involved in any conversation.

I'm not sharing about this to victimize my dad, only to say that hearing difficulty is not a disability that one can see. And to his credit, he's never complained about it or used it as any sort of an excuse. I've recently discovered that my older brother has inherited his hearing loss also, and have had to learn to be sensitive to his same difficulties in certain social situations. That's one reason I like playing golf with my dad; by and large, he can hear me on a golf course.

In heaven, my dad will be able to hear clearly. Not that I hope he gets there anytime soon!


Puffy said...

He's lucky to have a son like you!

Seasoned Refinement said...

You sound like my husband talking about his father. His dad is now 78, and his hearing problem has become progressively worse over the years, and, I believe, he is now practically deaf without his hearing appliances.

I cannot tell you how many times we've all been together in a room, and at first, everyone is aware that cross-conversations are an impossibility for my father-in-law. So, we have these group conversations that almost sound unnaturally polite (people waiting their turn, letting other people finish sentences, etc.) But, human nature being what it is, within fifteen minutes, the focus has shifted, and we are all talking at once. There is a look of confusion -- frustration, actually -- on his face, and I realize, we've done it again -- we are all just a lot of maddening background noise to him.

But when you get him alone, you can talk for hours...a volley of conversation with no "what did you say?", "speak up", or "I didn't hear you". I found out that what you said is true, Cygnus -- the background noise causes him to throw his hands up in frustration.

Your dad may be lacking in the auditory department, but your devotion as a son (hey, it's obvious) is probably one of his most precious assets.