For the last many years our family has been coping with a very real kind of loss. We are trying to deal with the extreme hearing loss of our husband and father, my Mordechai. It happened almost overnight. The telephone rang five times in a row. Each time he would answer the phone and tell me that there was no one there. Finally on the sixth ring he put the phone to his other ear and the caller asked why he had constantly been hanging up on him. Within two weeks, total hearing loss, probably from some sort of a virus had robbed him of hearing in his left ear. Of course, we had every kind of test. We checked every possibility for a medical explanation and were left with the profound loss.
As time has passed, he has slowly been losing hearing in his other ear. It is not awful but it is not perfect. When you lose hearing in one ear you are not able to discern where sound is coming from; nor are you able to wear a hearing aid for that ear. When he walks into our home I immediately have to let him know which room I am in as he cannot tell where the sound is coming from. Even more annoying and upsetting have been the many times he is in a situation where a person calls out to him in a busy atmosphere. He knows that he is being called but needs to turn around in a complete circle in order to find the sound and the caller.
As a college professor he immediately informs his students on the first day of class that when they wish to make comments they should please raise their arms so that he can tell where the comment is coming from.
Each day has become more and more of a challenge. Often people meet him and greet him and he does not hear them. The result of such experiences often causes people to feel that he is a snob (he is the furthest thing in the world from that) or that he is a super non-friendly person. A frequent exchange occurs such as when entering a store and being greeted by “Hello sir, how are you?” He does not reply, obviously because he cannot hear them. Another write-off of an unfriendly person. Shul is a natural challenge amidst the noise when people are leaving after davening. Speakers, drashas, as special as they might be, are useless to someone who has difficulty in hearing. Sitting at a table with grandchildren and children that are adored and not being able to follow the conversation is heart breaking. As much as everyone knows that Zaidie needs for everyone to speak loudly it is the natural inclination to speak at a more normal tone. Sitting around the table of friends on Shabbos or Yom Tov is a painful and uncomfortable feeling, as though you are not really present.
We have just ordered the Cadillac model of the latest hearing aid on the market. I am so hoping that it will make a difference in making the best person in my life’s quality of life more palatable.
Next time anyone sees Mordechai Glick in a group, in shul, on the street, in a store, please remember that he cannot hear you and needs you to speak loudly and facing him.
I think that it would be one step forward in making him feel more like he is no longer “New in the Neighborhood.”