Heart of hearing

This will be a short post. All the cool kids are sick these days, and far be it for Team Vitone to buck trends. Dylan’s got a textbook case of severe sinusitis; I’m going the sore-throat route. Guess we deserve to feel this crummy, given that last weekend we put in a ton of hard labor, ignoring the beginnings of our sniffles (check out the latest demolition photos here). 

Today I’m thinking about health and longevity. In this era when we pitch and replace things without a thought, it’s odd owning something that was intended to last for generations. Dylan and I are working ourselves ragged on a house that outlived its previous owners, and which might well outlive us (many, many years from now, God willing).

I’m the child of two medical professionals, so I’m programmed to let my thoughts wander to a not-so-fun place sometimes (I’m peeing a lot–I MUST HAVE CANCER!). But other times–like now–I just feel lucky: to have a body that gets a bug, fights it off, then heals; to have knees that can schlep up and down the stairs of a three-story house all afternoon; to have hands that can type for hours without a dose of aspirin. All those dinner-table conversations about the failings of our bodies gave me a well-developed sense of how we don’t know what we have until it’s gone.

And today, I’m also thinking about our resilience and its price: Sometimes we don’t know what we’ve lost until we get it back.

My mom did a brave thing last week. After years of saying “Huh?” more than she wanted to admit, she finally went in for a test. She registered at “moderate severe” hearing loss. Mom is in her early 60s–too young to have to be saddled with hearing aids–but it had to be done, so she did it. And I’m so proud of her.

Mom has regained a thousand things she didn’t know she’d been missing: the rustling of paper around her desk; the buzz of the dryer; the clicking of the turn signal; the richness of tones in the choir at Mass. When she visits us this summer, she’ll be able to hear us over the noise of a crowded restaurant. And in the fall, when my brother and his wife are expecting a baby boy, she won’t miss any of his little squeaks and cries.

My late grandmother–Mom’s mom–was hearing-impaired for most of her life. She had headphones that were wired to an audio-sensor gadget that she wore on her chest. I remember how years ago, when she couldn’t decipher my high-pitched, little-girl voice, she pointed to it and leaned in. 

“Talk to my heart,” she said.

Right now, Grandma is getting all of this, and she is smiling.

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