By Chelle George
A friend of ours had a daughter graduate from college last Saturday and we were invited to her party that evening. Since I’m trying to wear my hearing aids more lately, I didn’t bring their case with me because if I can’t put them away, I have to wear them. At first people were gathered in the kitchen which has 1 1/2 walls of window, custom cement floors, high ceilings, marble counters and a two sided fireplace. It’s gorgeous but it’s an acoustic nightmare and I wanted nothing better than to take my hearing aids out but I couldn’t. The reverberation made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up so I migrated out onto the deck where I could sort sound better. Soon most of us were out on the deck and only going inside to get another drink or more food.
It was a perfect evening with some clouds, a light breeze with the temperature in the 70’s somewhere and a great view of the mountains. Patio furniture gave everyone a place to sit and we formed a circle of chairs with a group. I like circles. I can face everyone and hear most of it. Ken even tested me once asking me if I heard and when I nodded my head (wrong answer on my part because that looks like the deaf nod) he asked me what I heard and I repeated it.
I enjoyed the chat about a cheese documentary and what Europeans used to put in cheese and since I started that subject (remembering a chat about feta cheese with someone there last Christmas) it was easy to follow. When the subject changed to a young man who was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan I could follow that too even though his speech was lost to me because I couldn’t see him. The lady who sat next to me turned around to face me and gave me the short version. It’s so nice being in a group like that.
The graduate’s sister started speeches so we all stood up and suddenly I was out of my circle as a new one formed. Now I was behind people but I could see the sister and ‘hear’ her words but when the graduate replied to my left behind others I heard nothing. I turned to my boyfriend and asked for his help. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”
“Just two words to sum it up,” I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders again because he is terrible at this kind of thing. These are the of situations I hate because I want so much to hear to hear and can’t. I don’t blame my boyfriend because it’s not easy for his brain to sum things up, he doesn’t know where to begin or what words to choose. His ADD brain is floating with all the words so he can’t pluck two plus I think he feels it’s rude to talk to me while speeches are being made. Even I was afraid to move and disrupt things so I stayed put trying to contort my body to hear what she was saying.
So frustration with my inability to hear was mounting. Not only was I moving in weird ways for a better view I’m pretty sure my eyebrows were down and I was squinting with concentration. The host, our friend, must have noticed because when I looked her way she motioned me to her side. She didn’t have to motion me twice! I hustled right over and standing next to her I could see everyone’s faces again and I heard most everything again. I could even understand the two charming, young men from Africa with their accents. How nice that was! I’m grateful to her for recognizing my look of frustration.
Once again I was astonished that being able to see made such a big difference. I don’t consider myself the best speech reader but when I get through situations like these, it’s proof that seeing is hearing.