Thursday, May 26, 2016


There are events that are very funny unless you are involved in the event, and your involvement is unpleasant.

That is, an observer can watch something and bust a gut, while the person central to the spectacle will not see the humor in the event for years, and maybe forever.  Such is the case with something that took place with my dad maybe a dozen years ago.  When I heard what had happened I thought it was hysterical, but he--a man with an otherwise terrific sense of humor--did not think it was even a tiny bit funny.

Something occurred last week which I'd like to think would have made him think differently about the episode, or at least get him to smile--but he is gone now for two years, so the potential for laughter and joy regarding the incident will never be his.

Here is what happened.  My parents had purchased a sophisticated set of hearing aids for my mother.  I guess she had previously bought some that were not the state of the art, so my folks decided to spring for the expensive ones.  I don't know how much they cost, but it was not chump change.

I'm thinking that my parents had ongoing arguments that, for the most part, they kept hidden from me.  On balance, they were the model for a loving relationship. They could and did argue, but beneath whatever disagreements they had was a solid foundation the likes of which are to be sought and preserved when you have them.  I did notice later in years dad getting steamed about events that must have had precedent or else he--someone who generally did not make a big deal about another's minor transgressions--would not have gotten so steamed. I recall once coming out of a movie theatre when I had to be close to 50. As we emerged my mother said something like she thought she left her pocketbook at the seat.  Smoke started coming from Dad's head, and again, this was not the way he reacted to something UNLESS, this was the umpteenth time it had happened.  Then there was another event when my parents got to the airport for a flight and could not get through security because my mother had not taken her driver's license thinking she did not plan to drive anywhere when they got where they were going. That too was an incident that Dad had trouble discussing without his jaw bones working.  It made matters worse when my mother claimed she saw nothing wrong about leaving the license home.

Getting back to the humorous event that occurred. My folks bought this expensive set of hearing aids for my mother.  Within a week or two she had lost one.  This did not sit well with either of them, but particularly with dad who was the major contributor to the treasury and who, I think, might have had had it with losses borne from carelessness.  I know now that the loss was not really the result of carelessness, but at the time after shelling out some serious shekels for the hoo hah hearing aids, that is what it must have felt like to dad.

The two of them went about unearthing the entire condo trying to find this tiny hearing aid.  There are essentially only three rooms in the place though it seems like there are more. There are two bedrooms, and a large living room that has walls to create space for a kitchen, a den, a patio, and a laundry room.  My folks were tearing every space apart and could not find the hearing aid.

At one point, my mother went into the master bedroom and dad was in the den where there is a couch used typically for watching television. It is a long couch that has in its middle sections a pull out bed.  This bed was rarely used.  I bet in the 25 or so years they were living there, they opened up the bed no more than 10 times.

Nevertheless it was possible that while sitting on the couch watching tv, my mother could have inadvertently knocked one of the aids out and it, then, could have become lodged in the bed portion of the couch. So, while mom was in the master bedroom, dad opened up the couch, crawled on the mattress up to where the mattress met the back of the couch, and bent over to see if he could find the expensive hearing aid.

What happened was that dad must have put weight on the portion of the pullout that allowed for the bed to roll back up. So while bent over looking for the hearing aid, the bed began to, and then did, close on him so that he was stuck head nearly completely covered in the bed portion of the couch.

A humorous sight that must have been, but the thing that made me and my mom laugh about it--while dad could not find the laughter--was that when the bed closed up, dad started shouting for my mother to come help her. Thing is, since she did not have the hearing aid in, she couldn't hear my father yelping from within the couch.

Eventually having given up her own sleuthing in the master bedroom, she came out into the living room and did not see my father right away, since he was essentially inside the couch with whatever bulge was there because of his presence, not especially evident.  His wailing for help was a bit muffled, and without her hearing aid, my mother could not hear much unless it was a roar.  At one point my mother saw the couch move, went to explore, found dad, and tried to help my father out, but (a) she was laughing some (b) she was not the one who typically opened the couch so didn't really know how to open it particularly when it contained a person and (c) she couldn't really hear my father's instructions.

They eventually managed to get him out, but dad was not happy.  Mom was stifling laughter.  Meanwhile they had not found the aid and dad had to fork out the heavy cost of replacing it which compounded the embarrassment of the incident.

Dad was never able to really laugh about what happened. He was typically a good sport, but I think the combination of the money lost, my mother's apparent tendency to misplace things, and having got caught in the couch was a little too much to overcome.

Last week I was down in Florida trying to finally get everything out.  We have, my brother and I, done a very good job of cleaning and excavating.  One thing we had not done is pulled out the bed in the master bedroom to dust and take away whatever has accrued.  I pulled away the heavy ceramic back of the bed, and boy was it dirty.  My mother has been gone for three years and dad, no doubt did not do much housecleaning in the 9 months before he succumbed.  I bet it had been a few years before my mother died before anyone swept behind the bed. It took a long unpleasant while for me to sweep the dust up.

And then I saw it.  Among the thick dirt and dust was the hearing aid. It must have fallen out when my mother was asleep, somehow found a tiny crack in the base of the heavy ceramic headboard, rolled under the headboard, and gotten lodged behind the bed where they never thought to look.  I picked it up, washed it off, and started to laugh.

I thought of my dad and wished he was there so that he might, now many years later, get a laugh at what had transpired.  I think he would have at least smiled.  Now dead, he would have realized that life is when you can laugh and share joy.  Afterwards, even aids, cannot allow you to experience the potential joys available in life.  Must be a message in there for those on this side of the horizon.

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