A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

All That A Whisper Is

In Deafness, Hearing Loss on October 22, 2008 at 10:04 am

When talking with a friend that I hadn’t seen since childhood, I told him of my severe and profound hearing loss.  He asked if I had hearing aids, and when I answered that I had tried them extensively, but hadn’t been able to benefit from being aided, he wondered at what I was missing?  “…music, a soft whisper, a bird chirping, spoken poetry, etc.”

Later, in thinking about what a romantic the little boy that I knew had become, I began contemplating what I was missing– music, soft whispers, bird’s chirping, and spoken poetry.  The following is my musings on soft whispers.

“I cannot hear whispers at all.  Someone will try to whisper in my ear and I instinctively take their face in my hands and force them to look at me so that I can read their lips.  Then, of course, they no longer will whisper since they are speaking face to face.  LOL  I don’t want to miss soft whispers, but the only way I can hear them is to watch the whisperer speak.  Pretty hard to do with their lips pressed up against your ear.  LOL

I used to do the same with the kids when they were little, when they would whisper things to me.  I would take their little faces in my hand, in order to see what they were saying, but they would always shake free of my grasp and again, press their little mouths to my ear, holding my head so I couldn’t turn it to look at them.  I did love the feel of their hot breath, and the gentle touch of their soft, little hands as they held my face still, and so sometimes I would just pretend that I heard, in order to ease their frustration with my repeated head turning.  But hearing what they said was the only pretence, for I did delight in every other aspect of their whispers.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give to regain those lost moments, to hear the context of their sweet whisperings, but to think of that makes me sad and so instead I will simply take pleasure in remembering all that a whisper is for me.

It makes people sad to know that you can’t hear them, especially children, and on occasion I fake it.  Something all hearing impaired people do.

Just typing those first two paragraphs has made me cry, because it has brought back the memory of my doing the same thing to my grandma when I was a little girl.  I would try to whisper sweet nothings to her and she would gently take my face and try to see what I was saying, but no matter how many times she would do that, I would shake free from her grasp and again, whisper in her ear, holding her face so she couldn’t turn to see what I was saying.  She would smile and take delight in my attempts, but I could see the lack of understanding on her face, for she was completely deaf.  But when I looked into her eyes we both smiled because her hearing what I was trying to whisper was not necessary for us to feel the love between us.  We both just laughed and hugged.

See, how can I be sad for too long at my lack of hearing?  Without that lack, I would have missed having the ability to delight in all that a whisper is.  It isn’t just the sound, it is so much more.”

Michele

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  1. A couple of my library patrons who visit– a mother and her little boy– are so good about whispering in the library. I can tell it’s like a game for the boy. He’s darling and so well behaved. In this day and age it’s uncommon to see a child so well mannered. I like to encourage his quiet behavior, but feel so bad that I can’t hear anything either of them say. That’s one of the drawbacks of working in a library is occasionally people whisper– thinking they’re doing the right thing when in fact it’s the wrong thing to do with me. hahaha! Yeah– I missed all that stuff with my kids too. But I like to think I gained other things. My kids don’t feel like they missed out at all having a deaf mom. They go away with more back talk, but they gained so much independence and knowledge. It’s a trade off. 🙂

  2. Michele, you are a phenomenal writer. I just love reading whatever u write. the words just come at me and bring all the feelings with it.
    thank u for making me feel differently about whispers. You are so on target.
    pearl

  3. great post… thank you for sharing that.

    It reminded me that when I realized my son couldn’t hear whispers (he was 4 when we found out he had a mild-mod hearing loss)… and it suddenly made sense why when HE whispered something to me, he only moved his lips. He didn’t think you were SUPOSE to say it out loud.. because, he could not hear us.

    When I first realized that… I felt tremendously guilty… both, for not realizing why he only moved his lips… and, because I realized that for 4 years… I was always whispering sweet nothings in his ears… I love you’s… sssshhhhhh sounds when he was crying… and he never heard any of it…

    I felt terrible about that… but, was glad that I could finally direct all my sweet nothings to his face… or in a voice he could hear me… and that somehow.. he seemed to have understood that my soundless whispers were full of love the first 4 years in spite of not hearing them…

    deb

  4. Kim, I imagine working in a library when you cannot hear poses some challenges!

    Pearl, thanks for the praise and I am so please that I could make you feel more about whispers.

    Deb, don’t beat yourself up over not realizing your son could not hear. I can tell you from a child’s perspective (I began losing my hearing in early childhood) that my mother never realized I had a hearing loss and I was always getting trouble for not answering, day dreaming, etc. She too felt bad once she learned I could not hear. I didn’t hold that against her and knew she loved me. I am sure your son feels the same way.

    Your comment was the essence of my post–a whisper is more than sound, especially those endearing whispers between children and adults. The sound is accompanied by tenderness in touch and love expressed through a smile, both from the lips and the eyes. My grandmother whispered with her beautiful blue eyes. I still cry when I think of it.

    Thanks for sharing everyone!!

  5. Hope it’s okay that I mentioned this post on my blog…

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