Safe And Healthy

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Notice I didn’t say safe and ‘sound.’ That was deliberate because, at almost 86, my Dad isn’t quite as sharp as he used to be. He knows it, we all know it – we just don’t put a label on it.

What constitutes being ‘sound’ really?

Ask a person, who has lived a long hard life, how they feel and they’re just as likely to answer, “fine,” as they are to actually attempt to describe how difficult their day was beginning with getting out of bed to completing a few everyday tasks. Or, as my Dad often answers the doctor when asked that question, “how much time do you have?”

Mom, on the other hand, seldom leaves her place at the breakfast table because even the slightest exertion gets her winded. She watches her programs, she reads, she does her crossword puzzles and she organizes my Dad’s meals and meds. Mom (who’s deaf in one ear and has perfected the art of ‘selective hearing’) has a unique way of filtering sound. When she sleeps, it’s on her ‘good’ ear so she doesn’t get bothered by outside noise.

Dad, like myself, not only hears every annoying beep and bang but involuntarily waits for the next one to disturb him. And, with nothing but time on his hands, that’s a lot of disturbance.  As musicians, Dad and I are literally victims of the very sounds that we’ve spent our lives crafting for others’ enjoyment.

Is it healthier to face your demons head on or to ignore them in hopes that they’ll eventually go away? I guess that’s for each of us to discover!

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Card-Carrying Sleuth

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It is becoming yet another full-time job of mine to troubleshoot everything and anything my Dad thinks he hears:

  • Voices outside the door
  • Chairs scraping from the condo above
  • Banging from the garage below 
  • Motorcycles revving up on the street

It’s entirely possible that some of these noises DID occur, at one time, and some I have actually heard myself. But I simply cannot track every sound and motion – even as it becomes his latest obsession. Then, when I tell him to please stop tapping his fingers or grinding his teeth because it’s distracting me while I’m trying to write (this blog post, for example), he gets all bent out of shape because he doesn’t think THOSE noises are annoying.

So, what’s the solution?

The solution is: turn up the volume of his TV (even more, if possible); wait for him to fall asleep in his comfy lounger (oops, he just did) and Voila… Problem solved!*

*at least until next time…

Enough Is Enough

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I remember when my Dad used to drum.  Long after he retired from teaching and playing club dates on the weekends – weddings and Bar Mitzvahs – he continued drumming, almost as if his fingers had a life of their own. I never did that. My oldest son, also a drummer, occasionally does that. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

For years my Dad’s fingers would drum and drum and drum. Every surface had permanent dents or dings; every tabletop was worn of its natural patina of wood; every arm chair’s upholstery was permanently thinned – some worn right down to the material below.

But I haven’t heard that familiar sound in ages. At some point, Dad just gave up. When he finally decided, “enough is enough,” I’ll never know for sure. Was it when the phone stopped ringing for gigs or when the students stopped needing lessons or when time just passed by and all those years of experience and knowledge stopped mattering?

I know he sometimes has dreams about those days of working and teaching. He says they’re quite vivid and he remembers them all. The mind is a funny thing – focusing on some events, no matter how trivial, while fogging over others that seemed so important at one time. So maybe, in hindsight, enough is never really enough! 

I’m All Ears

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In my quest to have a modicum of peace and quiet, I found myself searching online for a pair of headphones. Not just any headphones but ones that will knock out almost all outside sound. I’m not kidding. 

They make these things for people who blow leaves and who work around airplanes. So I figured they’d be the perfect complement to my living in a house where answers are yelled from room to room or even from person to person within the same room because to wear a hearing aid would insinuate that you were hard of hearing. Heaven forbid.

At first, bearing witness (unintentionally) to these verbal sparrings, I found myself peeking out the front door – making sure no one else could hear. But then the strangest thing happened. As I walked down the hallway, I could hear tvs blasting, people shouting at one another and very loud one-sided phone conversations coming from inside every single door.

So now, when I want a reprieve from the loud ‘talking,’ I simply make myself a cup of tea, get out a good book, put on my headphones and enter my own little echo chamber of quiet. The only problem is… now I can hear the steady pounding of my own heartbeat magnified in my ears!