YOU KNOW HOW IT IS – You go off to school or work sometime in your early life and discover opportunities where you never thought they were and as a result never go home again. Well, that describes my early life. I could cut to the chase and say here I am in a remote corner of America feeling as much at home as I ever did in the land of my birth.

It’s here that an interesting sidebar should be inserted. The pictures I have stored in my mind of my friends and my life in the land of my nativity are all dated and faded. Because I never see those people, I see them as they were not as they are.

For you who have lived your lives close to where you grew up it’s a different feeling and experience. You and your friends have grown up into maturity in a partnership of shared lives or at least a shared place. When you see each other the changes you see are gradual and you see yourself in the lives of others.

When my brother died photographs were posted of people I last saw many years ago. Suddenly, my own age was palpable. For a while there was a website dedicated to news and events of my high school class. They would have a monthly luncheon and I would look at those pictures in amazement. Hardly a one would be recognizable to me in a random encounter.

I have spoken to many natives who say they would love to have lived somewhere else. But the draw of the familiar, of home is powerful and usually overrides most other considerations.

I sometimes envy those of you who grow into old age among your people. I have friends for whom I am grateful beyond words, while my immediate family is gone and old friends are slipping away. But isn’t that the way it goes? Yet, there is an element of life that I missed and do miss. On the other hand, I feel sure I would not change a thing. Our histories are the culmination of countless choices which if only a few or even one were otherwise, none of this might be happening.

We take life as it is. Even if we want to change things – that change must begin where and as it is now. I like it the way it is.

I feel deeply indebted to and grateful for each of you who have a part to play in my life. Thank you.

Carry on.

One of he most difficult parts about having hearing loss is helping friends who have normal hearing to understand what I am experiencing and what I need from them. Without fail, everyone understands, and without fail their behavior briefly changes before reverting to previous patterns. So I had this idea … …

What if at the next dinner party, cookout or celebration where I – a person well known to have serious hearing loss – was invited, I brought a supply of ear plugs and asked everyone to wear them then try to communicate as usual? … . . Well, it was a thought.

I remember hearing perfectly. I remember waking up to birdsong and wind in the trees. I remember the nuances of music – the overtones in every aspect of life that flows on a bed of sound.

I am two days away from the activation of my cochlear implant. Friends have expressed some serious hope and expectations about this. The advise I get from the hearing loss community is, “High hopes and low expectations”. It’s a process, I am told. It gets better, I am told. I’m looking forward to the time when my mind is filled with other thoughts – or perhaps none at all. Sometimes, I think that would be best.