Hearing anew

“Can you tell me, what’s that “tick, tick, tick sound?”

My dad is trying out new hearing aids. Yesterday, he heard the sound of the car turn signal for the first time in many years.

My (step)mom came very close to dying last week and is in skilled nursing now. (“Lockdown,” as she calls it.) I flew in to help them through the crisis. Did the social worker really expect us to decide where mom and dad should go in five minutes, when they suddenly released her from the hospital into skilled nursing? Yes, they did, but since there were several variables, we gave ourselves enough time to work though the delicate questions before we decided. Dad is now preparing to move into an assisted living apartment they both liked before mom became ill. She will join him when she is ready.

Everything is different. They resisted hearing aids. Today I’m enjoying not having to shout at my dad. Mom never would have welcomed my buying her new clothes.Today she looks great in her new duds. We’re getting to know each other – as we each are now – in these new circumstances.

And it’s sweet. So much love. If you could see them hold hands, it would say it all. Yes, we have to contend with resistance at times. Decisions need to be made faster than anyone is ready for. Dad doesn’t like it that the realtor insists he replace the red carpet on the stairs before she lists the house. Mom wants to direct things like she used to, and she isn’t strong enough for it. But we’re easing our way through all that into this new reality.

The ticking sound of a turn signal isn’t the only thing my father now hears that he missed before. And my father isn’t the only one whose hearing is awakening. Hospitals and hearing aids have woken this family up to each other.

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