Photographers, artists, poets: show us MOVEMENT … in this case, the dance of the wooden horses on the carousel. The winter carousel, with all the riders, of all ages, bundled up against the cold yet going up and down to the sound of the calliope.
A while ago, I had the flu and my ears were blocked. One day, Garry took out his hearing aids and kept turning up the television until we could both hear it. “That,” he said, “Is my world. That’s how much I can hear.” I have never forgotten. Which is good because it’s all too easy to forget when it’s not your problem.
Many people don’t think of hearing loss as a “real” disability. Is it because it’s invisible? I can’t walk much, can’t lift, ride a horse or bend and am usually in some kind of pain ranging from “barely noticeable” to “wow that hurts.” None of which are visible to a naked eye. I once had a woman in the post office lash into me because I had a handicapped pass and she didn’t think I looked handicapped. Years later, I’m still angry. How dare she set herself up to judge?
People make assumptions all the time about Garry. They assume if they call to him and he doesn’t answer, he’s a snob. Rude. Ignoring them. If I’m with him I take them aside, explain Garry cannot hear them. “You need to make sure he sees you and knows you are talking to him,” I tell them. I consider it part of my job as his wife. It’s rough out there in a hearing world. Parties are the worst. When so many people talking at once , it becomes impossible for him to hear a single voice.
The hush of a snowy woods is silence
Mostly I can hear. Most things. Not as well as I did when I was younger. Background noise is more intrusive and annoying than it was. But I hear well enough for most purposes. I depend on my hearing to catch nuances, to interpret underlying meanings of what people say.
Garry used to be able — with hearing aids — to do that too. It was important in courtrooms and while interviewing people and of course, in relationships. It’s not only what someone says, but how he or she says it. Body language, facial expressions … it’s all part of the communications package. But his hearing is worse now and much of this ability to catch the subtler part of speech is gone.
When the hearing part goes, other senses have to compensate — but nothing entirely fills the gap.
I am forever asking Garry if he heard “it.” Sometimes “it” is me. He often behaves as if he heard me though he didn’t — but he thinks he did. Sometimes, he didn’t hear exactly what I said or notice I was speaking. It takes him a while to process sound, to put words in order and make them mean something. It isn’t instant, the way it is for someone with normal hearing. He has to pause and wait for his brain to catch up Sometimes, he puts the puzzle together wrong because he heard only pieces and what he missed was critical.
There’s also the “what?” factor. How many times can anyone say “excuse me, can you repeat that” before he/she feels like an idiot? *
Human speech is not the whole story. There is music, soft and loud. The funny noise coming from the car’s engine, the scratching of a dog locked in the closet. Birds singing or a cry for help from down the hall. Garry can’t hear any of that. Once upon a time, he could and he misses it. He doesn’t hear the beep of a truck backing up. Or the sound of the water in our pipes that means someone’s using the shower. The little grinding noise of a hard drive going bad or an alarm ringing. The hum of the refrigerator. All the little noises are lost to Garry.
What does silence sound like? When you hear only the very loudest noises, but none of the soft sweet sounds? The explosion, but never a murmur? To be in that silence — always — is a different world.
- – - – -
* Answer: Three.You can ask someone to repeat something 3 times. After that you are too embarrassed to try again. This is true for everyone, not just people with hearing problems. We all encounter accents we don’t get, mumblers and people who speak too fast or too softly.
Once upon a time, music was very different. The Beatles hadn’t played yet. We hadn’t heard them. Sure, there was rock and roll … but not like now. Not like it became after the Beatles. They made sounds we’d never heard before, not anywhere. Maybe sounds that had never even existed on earth.
They didn’t only play instruments and sing. They played a recording studio. They literally introduced completely new sounds, mixing guitar, Dobro, drums, vocals, synthesizers to change music forever.
Younger generations … even my son’s generation, the Gen Xers … they were born after it all changed. They don’t get it, that before the Beatles, music was different. The world was very different.
Music was much more important to us … me, my friends, my whole generation … than music is now. We lived and died with the music we loved. Maybe you had to be there.
The Beatles changed our music and music changed our world. And we, my generation — we changed everything.
Winter is long in New England. It snowed yesterday. It stopped for a while. And it is snowing again and this storm, which is pretty big will be followed by a much larger storm a few days from now. There’s no reason to be surprised. Winter is like this and February is often the month when the heaviest snow falls. The Blizzard of ’78 was just about this time in February. Just saying.
Please enjoy the vintage recording of Billie Holiday, one of the all time great blues singers.Maybe the greatest.
posted in Challenges by Pat Gerber-Relf If you were involved in a movie, would you rather be the director, the producer, or the lead performer? (Note: you can’t be the writer!). Photographers, artists, poets: show us CELEBRITY.
Garry’s Emmy — and there are more. Celebrity? Yup.
When it came time for Garry and I to get married, we weren’t thinking about music. Not much, anyway.
I figured we’d do something simple, but of course, Garry’s brother is The Maestro. Dr. Anton Armstrong, internationally renowned conductor of St. Olaf’s Choir. He showed actual horror at my suggestion we go with Mendelssohn. He made it clear this was unacceptable. He was not going to stand by and let us have inferior music.
Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves hiring a bagpiper, searching out music we liked and which would meet with The Professor’s approval. Drafting vocally blessed friends — of whom it turns out I have a surprisingly large number — to sing at our wedding. It got a little complicated since one of them was my maid of honor — okay, matron of honor her being married and all. But we overcame the complexities of bouquets, microphones, speaker systems and acoustical anomalies and came up with what was deemed by all interested parties, an appropriate playbill.
Opening with Amazing Grace, starting with the bagpipe, then a segue to my friend Kit who had to keep from crying, but once she got that under control, it was all good. Fade to a duet, Kit and Anton — a folk arrangement of a bible verse and I dont’ remember the name — but I have the video.
Not the original wedding. Our second vow renewal. In the backyard, by the unfinished teepee. Seven years ago. Taken by somebody — don’t remember who. We should have had a better camera available. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it!
Then, Mary handed off the bouquet and sang “Follow Me”, a lovely version of a favorite — and appropriate — song best known when sung by John Denver who was unable attend the wedding.
Garry and my show business roots began to show. While everyone else seems to concentrate on the reception, we really got into the “show,” that is to say The Wedding. That was our main event. For the reception, we figured if we had a DJ, dinner and a dance floor, everyone could hang out and be happy.
It seemed like a gigantic wedding to me but it was fewer than 100 people. I would have been happy with City Hall. Garry was in his prime and we could have gotten the Mayor to marry us. I would have thrown a bouquet and we’d have been on our way to Ireland. But nope. Garry wanted A Wedding. THE WEDDING. He’d waited a long time and if he was going to get married, he was going to do it right.
Which meant I was going to do it right. He was much too busy to do more than issue marching orders and tell me who I had to invite. Men and weddings. Clueless beings. That was when I realized if I could survive the wedding, the marriage was going to be a piece of cake. Wedding cake. I had to order one of those, too.
We had written vows and Garry memorized his, just like he memorized what he had to say in front of the TV camera every night. Well, he didn’t have to get his hair done, make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, that the food showed up, the piper was piping, the flowers flowering. I forget my vows. Totally. Went completely blank. Stood there with flies coming out of my mouth.
Never mind. We moved on and got married.
Bonnie, our Scottish connection
Yay! Bouquets! Cheers! Confetti (raw rice makes the birds sick)! More music! Bring back the piper!Marching out to “Scotland the Brave” though neither of us is a bit Scottish. We have Bonnie, the Scottish terrier. It should count for something.
I have almost all of it on DVD. It was originally on videotape, but it disintegrated and we barely saved it onto disk. A lot of it wouldn’t play, much less transfer. I was so sorry we lost some of my favorite moments. Most of the soundtrack survived, but the visual part on tape was badly damaged. Time ate it. A reminder for anyone who has important stuff still on tape to move it to a less fragile medium ASAP.
It was a great wedding. Sorry you weren’t there (unless you were, in which case — wasn’t it a cool wedding?). We’ve had a couple more since then, just for fun.
Maybe we’ll have one more, when year 25 years rolls around. Definitely. One more wedding to go. A year and a half from now.