Dad commented to me that he thought he ought to visit the audiologist, to retune his hearing aids and turn up the volume. I asked Mom tentatively if she thought she might like to have her hearing checked. I was relieved with her positive answer, because I had noticed some reduction in her ability to hear. We have been saying “What?” a little too frequently, and sometimes a little too testily. Mom drove them to the doctor’s office in her little Subaru. (I stayed behind, feverish and chilled from the shingles vaccine.) I chuckled to think of Dad folding himself, grunting, into the low passenger seat. He managed, apparently. He generally prefers the faithful Suburban, despite needing to climb up into it, because he can easily slide out. After returning home, Mom came up to my room with a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup, and reported to me about her visit to the audiologist. The hearing test showed that she still hears quite well, but is missing out on “the edges of conversations,” making it hard to follow what is being discussed. Dad got his tune up, and Mom ordered her hearing aids. “I will have to learn something new,” she sighed, resigned but not defeated. Learning from life never stops. I am just glad she will be able to hear better, and in time for the family Thanksgiving gathering. I think she will find life significantly improved. Most important, her hearing aids will have rechargeable batteries. I think Dad might be a little envious.
I have been shouting a lot lately. Not because I am a brute or a bully or an offended narcissist, but because the hearing aid batteries seem to go dead every day. Or the hearing aids are not being worn. A person cannot wear hearing aids comfortably, of course, when mowing the lawn—such amplified sound would rattle their teeth and ruin what’s left of their hearing. And there is the surgical mask, which, when removed, catches on the hearing aid and flings it across the church parking lot. What an indignity to continually be shouted at, to have to ask “What?” and “Hmm?” all the time, to miss the happy songs of finches at sunset.