Since my husband wasn’t going to get home until around 7:15 and the polls are crowded right before they close, I chose to walk to our polling place today. It was a beautiful, crisp, cold morning and required very little encouragement to get Chloe to make the long walk to go vote.
About a block from the school where we vote I stopped to get Chloe’s vest out of my bag and “got her dressed”. She looked at me sort of quizzically for I don’t usually “dress her for work” on a walk. She was immediately “all business” though and stayed in a proper “heel” instead of her “I’m on a walk meandering trot”. I entered the school cafeteria and stopped to remove gloves, scarf and unzip my coat. (Hey! I said it was CRISP!) While waiting in line a nice lady asked if she could pet Chloe. Chloe’s body always wags, “yes, please”, but I have to ask people not to pet her in vest in public places. Days my balance is “off” only requires her reaching for a friendly hand that I’m FLAT ON MY FACE. So I pleasantly explained why I couldn’t allow her to say hello, and continued waiting in line.
I didn’t have to wait long. Mr. “I really need a smoke” was sitting waiting for me and motioned me to come over. In this big cavernous, noisy room with hard floors, walls and high ceilings, I had to struggle to hear. Ever try to speech read someone who was chewing gum like a cow? This poor guy really needed his nicotine fix. I asked for a repeat on the birthday question 3 times. I finally pointed to my mouth and said, “I can’t understand you I’m afraid. Would you repeat that once again?”
I guess it was the hound dog head resting on the table top, bright bling on my CI and the fact that I asked for a repeat 3 times that he finally got that “light bulb” look on his face. He looked up, stared me square in the eye, moved his gum to his cheek, and clearly enunciated, “Birthday month and day?” Well WHEW.
Now I headed to a shorter line waiting for a poll volunteer to show me to a booth. The lady standing there waiting with me seemed friendly. She looked at Chloe, looked at me and said, “Oh wow! I saw you speaking to Earl! I can’t believe you are deaf because you speak so well!”
“Yes, most Americans with hearing loss actually speak very well and do not use sign” I explained.
We stood there waiting silently but I could see a funny look on her face like she was about to bust. The polling folks aren’t really suppose to have a conversation with you. Since I was ‘ready for it’ though I heard her whisper, “My husband can’t hear a thing even with hearing aids. It’s driving me bananas“.
Since she was trying to be unobtrusive I lowered my voice and said towards the floor, “Well I hear voices very well now that I have a cochlear implant. They require a very simple surgery and most folks I know do really well. You should have your husband look into it”.
She looked thoughtful and motioned to another worker to show someone BEHIND me to the next open booth. Again talking to the FLOOR she whispered, “Well I don’t know if he’d go for that”. (pause) “Does the dog come with the implant?”
I looked up to catch the wink so I just grinned and shook my head. “Sadly, but no!” I whispered back. I told the floor, “Well you should check into the Hearing Loss Association of America. They have a terrific website. You both could find out much more”.
Finally she could not delay any longer and showed me to an empty booth. “Push the card all the way in until you hear it click”, she said in a normal tone of voice. She turned to leave me to my voting and whispered, “Thank you!”
I took 15 minutes to vote and Chloe and I both got a sticker. (BIG GRIN)
On the walk home I couldn’t help but send up a quick prayer for this lady and her husband. Remembering how hearing loss once drove my own loved ones “bananas“, I really felt empathy for them. Hopefully she will follow through and find out more information about HLAA. I had to grin to myself as we headed up the last big hill towards my neighborhood. I went out to vote and ended up being pro-active about my hearing loss once again.
Funny how our own circumstances allow us to do that, isn’t it? I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to have a whispered conversation to someone random that obviously had a “need”. It reminded me of one of my favorite “lists” that I periodically put around the house when needed.
Alice Gray‘s “Treasures of the Heart” seminar:
How to Put a Wow in Every Tomorrow:
1) Develop an attitude of gratitude: When you are experiencing tough times, remember the blessings in your life. It’s like sprinkling sunshine on a cloudy day.
2) Encourage others: When someone has a goal, most people point out the obstacles. You be the one to point out the possibilities.
3) Give sincere compliments: We all like to be remembered for our best moments.
4) Keep growing: Walk a different path. Take a class. Read something inspiring.
5) Give the gift of forgiveness: Forgiveness is a blessing for the one who forgives as well as for the one who is forgiven.
6) Take care of yourself: Exercise, eat a healthy diet, sing, and dance a little bit every day.
7) Do random acts of kindness: The most fun is when the other person doesn’t know who did it.
8.) Treasure relationships: Eat meals together, take walks, listen. Share laughter and tears. Make memories.
9) Share your faith: You can wish someone joy and peace and happy things, but when you share your faith–you’ve wished them everything.
Hope you went out to vote today!
© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal