Maybe it's just me, but ever since my hearing loss was diagnosed, I've become aware of references to communication and hearing loss in all sorts of reading material. Kind of like how once I became pregnant, my eyes were opened to seeing pregnant women everywhere I went. Once that experience passed, I became oblivious to them again. Heh.
Today I'd like to share two examples from books I have recently read. These titles are not included on my reading challenge list, since I didn't check them out from a library. But one was purchased at a library book sale and the other was a prize from a Friends of the Library group. To my thinking I ought to get some credit for them even if it's only a mention of them here.
Consider these words from a short story called "Hands" that has nothing to do with deafness. But because of my exposure to ASL and deaf culture, they just seemed to leap off the page for me.
Wing Biddlebaum talked much with his hands. The slender expressive fingers, forever active, forever striving to conceal themselves in his pockets or behind his back, came forth and became the piston rods of his machinery of expression.
"You must try to forget all you have learned," said the old man. "You must begin to dream. From this time on you must shut your ears to the roaring of the voices."
This next passage comes from the book Tuesdays with Morrie and is part of an interview Morrie Schwartz had with Ted Koppel for Nightline. In this passage, he is describing his fears of what will happen as his ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) advances. Unlike the previous quote, this one is definitely related to communication and deafness. It's a short, sweet passage I might have completely overlooked if not for my own experience of hearing loss.
"But my voice? My hands? They're such an essential part of me. I talk with my voice. I gesture with my hands. This is how I give to people." "How will you give when you can no longer speak?" Koppel asked. Morrie shrugged. "Maybe I'll have everyone ask me yes or no questions." It was such a simple answer that Koppel had to smile. He asked Morrie about silence. He mentioned a dear friend Morrie had, Maurie Stein, who had first sent Morrie's aphorisms to the Boston Globe. They had been together at Brandeis since the early sixties. Now Stein was going deaf. Koppel imagined the two men together one day, one unable to speak, the other unable to hear. What would that be like? "We will hold hands," Morrie said. "And there'll be a lot of love passing between us. Ted, we've had thirty-five years of friendship. You don't need speech or hearing to feel that."
If you'd like to read more from these books:
"Hands" is one of the short stories that comprises Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Tuesdays with Morrie is written by Mitch Albom and is highly recommended to you by me.
If you are late deafened or growing hard of hearing as an adult, let me know if certain words JUMP OUT for you as well.