January 9, 2009
I'm reading the new novel by David Lodge, titled Deaf Sentence. I'm only about a third through but I find it really enjoyable if that is the proper word to use.
The principle character has retired and is losing his hearing. He wears hearing aids, but it is getting worse. He has a father who is a widower whom he visits once a week and has terrible guilt feelings about it because he feels great relief when the visit is over. There is much more story to go, and even though I like the book thus far, I must tell you I empathize with this character far too closely.
I have traveled down that same road watching four parents age and die suffering through the same feelings of this character. Adding to the mix, I too am wearing hearing devices as we modern folks now call them.
Lodge I think must also have a problem hearing unaided, because his scenes though sometimes funny are also right on correct and uncomfortable to read. I don't know where the story will take me and even though I am sometimes a reluctant reader because of the content, I am anxious to continue.
A portion of one page that is in a way humorous, but not really:
I got up this morning before Fred (short for Winifred) and was having my breakfast when she came into the kitchen in her dressing gown. She said 'Good morning, darling', and then, going over to the stove, said something else which I didn't catch because I wasn't wearing my hearing aid; I took it out last night in the family bathroom, which is my bathroom when there are no family or other guests in the house, before going to bed, and it was still there. I said 'What?' and she repeated the utterance, but I still didn't get it. She was opening and shutting drawers and cupboards as she spoke, which didn't help. 'Sorry', I said, 'I haven't got my hearing aid in - it's upstairs.' she turned to face me and said more loudly what sounded like 'long stick'. I said, 'What do you want a long stick for?' My mind was already considering the possibilites - to recover something that had rolled under the bed? Or fallen down the back of a chest of drawers? She came closer and said, 'Saucepan. Long-stick saucepan.' 'What's a long-stick saucepan?' I said. 'You mean a long-handled saucepan?' She raised her eyes to the heavens in despair, and went back to the stove. I thought about it for a minute or two, and then the penny dropped. 'Oh, you mean non-stick saucepan! It's in the top right-hand cupboard.' But I was too late: she was already making her porridge in a stainless steel saucepan which would be much more trouble to clean afterwards. And it was my fault for putting the non-stick one away yesterday in the wrong place.